zondag 30 juni 2019

When I'm Alone: The Piano Retrospective. Lissie


Lissie schoof steeds meer op richting pop, maar kiest nu voor haar piano, haar stem en een fraaie collectie songs en het pakt geweldig uit

Ik hou erg van de albums van Lissie. De Amerikaanse singer-songwriter schoof de afgelopen jaren op van roots naar pop, maar bleef imponeren met goede songs en een geweldige stem. Hoe goed de songs en de stem van Lissie zijn hoor je nog net wat beter op het nu verschenen When I'm Alone: The Piano Retrospective, waarop Lissie de grootse instrumentatie en productie verruilt voor de intieme klanken van haar piano. Het zorgt ervoor dat haar krachtige stem nog wat meer indruk maakt en dat haar songs op fraaie wijze een tweede leven krijgen. Het is misschien maar een tussendoortje, maar wel een bijzonder fraai tussendoortje.

Ik ben tot dusver erg gecharmeerd van de albums van de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter Lissie.
 
Lissie Maurus groeide op in Rock Island, Illinois, maar verruilde deze kleine provinciestad voor het bruisende Los Angeles toen ze haar carrière in de muziek een boost wilde geven (later liet ze LA. overigens gedesillusioneerd achter zich).
 
Die carrière kreeg in 2010 een vliegende start met Lissie’s debuut Catching A Tiger, waarop de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter de perfecte balans vond tussen in artistiek opzicht verantwoorde Amerikaanse rootsmuziek en in commercieel opzicht succesvolle popmuziek.
 
Sindsdien is Lissie flink opgeschoven richting pop. Back To Forever uit 2013 flirtte met een grootse en meeslepende productie, waarna Lissie op het twee jaar geleden verschenen en opvallend donker klinkende My Wild West klonk als het tweelingzusje van Lana Del Rey, waar wat mij betreft overigens helemaal niets mis mee is. Ook op het vorig jaar verschenen Castles waren associaties met Lana Del Rey nauwelijks te onderdrukken, maar het meer door haar piano gedomineerde album maakte ook geen geheim van Lissie’s liefde voor de perfecte popliedjes van Fleetwood Mac, wiens Go Your Own Way ze een paar jaar geleden vertolkte op de soundtrack bij de film Safe Haven.
 
Na Castles liep de relatie van Lissie op de klippen en vond ze tijdelijk een thuis in Berlijn, waar ze When I'm Alone: The Piano Retrospective opnam. Zoals de titel al doet vermoeden horen we op het nieuwe album van Lissie alleen haar piano en haar stem en komen een aantal songs van haar eerdere albums voorbij.
 
De selectie uit Lissie’s eigen oeuvre is aangevuld met het van de Dixie Chicks bekende Cowboy Take Me Away en voor de tweede keer vertolkt Lissie een song van Fleetwood Mac; dit keer Dreams van million-seller Rumours uit 1977.
 
Ik gaf hierboven al aan dat ik tot dusver zeer gecharmeerd ben van de albums van Lissie. Dat is niet zozeer vanwege haar flirts met pop, maar vooral vanwege haar kwaliteiten als songwriter en haar even krachtige als emotievolle stem. Het zijn kwaliteiten die nog wat beter dan in het verleden worden belicht op When I'm Alone: The Piano Retrospective.
 
Lissie kan zich dit keer niet verschuilen achter een blinkende instrumentatie en productie. De songs op haar nieuwe album klinken naakt. Alles komt aan op de pianoklanken, op de zang en natuurlijk op de kwaliteit van de songs van Lissie. When I'm Alone: The Piano Retrospective laat op indrukwekkende wijze horen dat het met alle drie wel goed zit.
 
De piano klinkt op When I'm Alone: The Piano Retrospective warm en melancholisch, de stem van Lissie maakt diepe indruk met krachtige uithalen, maar ook intieme en emotionele passages en de songs van de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter komen op indrukwekkende wijze tot leven.
 
Op When I'm Alone: The Piano Retrospective horen we niet de popprinses Lissie maar de singer-songwriter Lissie en dat bevalt me zeer. Haar eigen songs klinken stuk voor stuk geweldig, maar ook het stukgedraaide Dreams zet Lissie makkelijk naar haar hand in een even intieme als gloedvolle versie.
 
Ik heb zelf nooit getwijfeld aan de kwaliteiten van Lissie, maar een deel van de fans van het eerste uur haakte af toen de Amerikaanse muzikante koos voor de pop. Hopelijk luisteren deze fans van het eerste uur wel weer naar When I'm Alone: The Piano Retrospective, want Lissie heeft een intieme en ingetogen singer-songwriter album gemaakt die overloopt van lef, maar die ook nog eens flink boven het maaiveld uitsteekt. Het is een album dat gepresenteerd wordt als een tussendoortje, maar ik vind het het meest indrukwekkende werk van Lissie tot dusver.

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 29 juni 2019

Even The Bad Times Are Good. The Tremeloes

Years ago I wrote a post on just a single song, 'Outside Chance' by The Turtles. Today I do so again, simply because this song is so much fun.

What happened? Recently I went into my former principal record shop in Leiden. When I'm in Leiden owadays I always stop by if possible, to check out the second hand singles and LP section. Yes, nobody wanted 'Tell Me' by The Rolling Stones and also The Golden Earrings are nearer to completion. One of the songs also there was Even The Bad Times Are Good by The Tremeloes. Another band that scored several hits in the second half of the 60s into the 70s. The band was a part of that pop segment of the 60s, where also bands like Dave Dee c.s., Bee Gees, yes, even The Hollies, etc. belonged. Bands that scored true pop hits, so mostly safe despite being very infectuous. Bands that do not belong to my top favourites of the era because of that extreme pop.

So, how long do I know Even The Bad Times Are Good? I am simply not sure. As I have written somewhere before, there are holes in my 60s pop knowledge and they have to do with the fact that my parents did not have a radio in the house for many years, but as I went to stay with a friendly family regularly at that time, even for longer periods of time, I know a lot of the music of the day, because of listening along with what the two elder daughters of this family played on their little transistor radio's. The result is that I know one single by a band very well and may never have heard another one. E.g., having bought a best of Dave Dee, etc. I know 'The Legend of Xanadu' by heart but as far as I'm aware had never heard 'The Wreck Of The Antoinette'. Both were hits in 1968. The previous single of The Tremeloes, 'Silence Is Golden' is definitely 1967 for me. Just like 'Here Comes My Baby'. 'Helule Helule' is a total blank.

Thus I have the idea that Even The Bad Times Are Good falls into one of these gaps. I do remember vividly having it on a tape in the mid 80s and introducing it as a great party track on our dorm parties. I never owned a copy though, until this week.

What I notice is this song is one of the brightest, sunniest, funniest and plain simply good songs in existence. The best remedy to blueness possible. It makes me smile and sing-a-long to instantly. The melody is so upbeat and strong that it is undefeatable. It truly brightens up my day. even when I'm in an extremely good mood already. This effect the song has always had on me. It's one of those songs that I can play ten times in a row and still sing it like I'm playing it for the first time.

So who are The Tremeloes?, as I have no clue really. This is the first song I own by the band (and probably the last). According to Wikipedia the band formed in 1958 as Brian Poole and The Tremoloes. The really good times started when Poole left to go solo, to no success, and the four other members all became lead vocalists, with loads of harmonies. The hits were all penned by others. Often a b-side of another group or an Italian song set to English lyrics. Even The Bad Times Are Good is an original written for The Tremeloes, by Peter Callander and Mitch Murray. It climbed to #4 in the U.K. charts and has a gold certification.

For me this remains extreme fun. It starts out a bit wacky as if a huge party is going on and loads of alcohol consumed. The "la la la la" part announces something special. There's a little The Small Faces in there. In fact they may have nicked this part and the small disturbances all through the song in 'Itchycoo Park' and 'Lazy Sunday'. Listen to the driving drums, the enormously prominent bass guitar and the piano pounding away, the organ laying down a warm foundation. Guitars? If there are any they certainly playing at least third fiddle here. Together they exude such an enormous level of positive energy. Over it either Len 'Chip' Hawkes or Dave Munden sings solo, I don't know. (A clip on You Tube tells all, it's the drummer singing, so it's Munden.) The vocal are what makes the song perfect. "And all I've got to do is run to you", is sung and this goes for the song as much as the girlfriend that is sung about on this hit single. How have I managed to live this long without this great song in my house?

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 28 juni 2019

Holy Moly. Chris Staples

There are albums that do not need a lot of words. Simply because the album is soft-toned yet solid as brick. Holy Moly is such an album.

It starts with a song called 'World On Fire'. The tempo, the urgency, the attack, all suggest all but a world on fire. Chris Staples is everything but in a hurry. The song sounds more as if he is totally in sync with the world as it is and resigned to his fate.

What does catch the ear, is the fact 'World On Fire' is not your run of the mill singer-songwriter song. Staples plays more and more with electronics and throws his voice through some kind of autotune or vocoder to disrupt; not to please.

It this element that puts Chris Staples apart and what to my ears makes Holy Moly a charming if different album. In the title song, the second on this album, again Staples throws in some disruption in the form of the very present drums(machine?). It gives the somewhat dreamy way Chris Staples sings a directness anyway.

Promo photo
Holy Moly is the result of a new period in Chris Staples' life. The period after he stopped drinking and returned to that well of inspiration he knew as a teenager. A well that had been covered over with alcohol. This does not make Holy Moly a joyous album. Well, in the sense that this is a good album to listen to, yes, just don't expect any song and dance routines or jokes. Holy Moly is a soft, contemplative album, of which there are many and just as many that have the quality Holy Moly has as well. This album does not stick out, but sure holds its ground. Dreamy, with a great undertone and a strong feel for the little melodies in between. Add the pleasant voices of Chris Staples and you must be getting my soft side of Elliot Smith drift.

These are really all the words I need to point you towards Holy Moly. Go on, I'm sure you'll be fine.

Wo.

https://chrisstaples.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

donderdag 27 juni 2019

The Hackensaw Boys Live. Paradiso Amsterdam Monday 24 June 2019 with The Po' Ramblin' Boys

Photo: Wo.
How many times have The Hackensaw Boys featured on these pages? First the magazine and now the blog? They could well be the front runner. In 2019 the band toured the country again and I just had to be there of course.

As I already wrote recently in my review of the new EP, 'A Fireproof House Of Sunshine', there is a totally new The Hackensaw Boys with only one founding member left, David Sickmen. On stage they were joined by Thomas Olivier, who is a bandmember when the band is in Europe since the 00s, who plays banjo, mandoline and guitar. Whatever a song takes. As there is no use crying over spilled milk, I will not compare with past line ups, except state that Jimmy Stelling is my absolute hero where banjo's are concerned and always will be.

What was easy to note was that this band was at ease on stage together. The energy that is captured in many songs of The Hackensaw Boys was released in combination with a certain reticence. No full abandon here. It brought out more subtle parts of the music, aimed just a little more at the head and a little less to the feet. That said, the speed of playing in some songs makes my arm hurt from just looking at it. And I'm a guitar player. The players were having fun obviously with bringing their music to an enthusiastic audience. Fiddle player Caleb Powers, who told me he really is a mandolin player -he could have fooled me!, brings the melodies into the songs and sings Ferd Moyse's songs. They are still played, where songs by older ex-members no longer come by. Beau Dodson sings great harmonies to great smiles and by mixing the charismo with a drum kit gives the music an extra oomph in the deep end of songs.

The new songs stood their ground, especially 'Factory Blues' and 'Late Night Kitchen' stood out. (Read my review here: https://wonomagazine.blogspot.com/2019/06/a-fireproof-house-of-sunshine-hackensaw.html.) A cover of a Blaze Foley song about Ronald Reagan could have been written recently as the lyrics totally apply. In short, a great evening well spent.

Photo: Wo.
The Po' Ramblin' Boys followed The Hackensaw Boys and the other way around would have been best, except that now I wasn't home so late. This is a very traditional bluegrass band, hats for all, except the lady. In the first songs I listened to I could hear only the sort of country music that I do not like, the traditional kind. But to its credit, the band did capture me. It plays really well, extremely tight and in various styles. Regularly they had me confounded on where they returned to singing after an instrumental interlude. Where is the one or whatever with these guys, as to me it seemed sometimes just random where they started singing again. That said, this still is not my kind of music, but respect is paid where respect is due. This is some tight outfit.

Wo.

You can buy A Fireproof House Of Sunshine here:

https://hackensawboys.bandcamp.com/album/a-fireproof-house-of-sunshine


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 26 juni 2019

Midnight Oil live, Stadtpark Freilichtbühne Hamburg 17 juni 2019

Foto: HareD
Na een stop van vijftien jaar, waarin zanger Peter Garrett een politieke carrière had inclusief ministerspost, gingen de heren van Midnight Oil in 2017 weer touren. De Great Circle Tour voerde langs 73 steden op 5 continenten en was zo goed als geheel uitverkocht. Dat smaakte naar meer, dus de heren doen het dit jaar dunnetjes over met 20 shows, vooral in Europa. Naar eigen zeggen om de steden aan te doen die er verleden keer niet meer bij konden. Toen stonden ze ook in Paradiso en gaven een fantastisch concert. Deze keer slaan ze Nederland over en spelen vooral in Duitsland. Dus vandaar de reis naar Hamburg, overigens een prima bestemming voor een stedentripje om het concert heen.
Het concert was in de buitenlucht, en dan verwacht je iets groots, met veel hekwerk enzo. Maar de Stadtpark Freilichtbühne bleek een prachtig openluchttheater. Geheel omringd door heggen en ander groen, plek voor zo’n 4000 mensen, ruimte genoeg voor iedereen, perfect aflopend, dus goed zicht voor iedereen, en het geluid viel ook niet tegen. Heerlijke locatie dus, en goed weer, dat hielp natuurlijk ook. Het enige nadeel was dat het stipt om 22.00 uur afgelopen moest zijn in verband met geluidsoverlast voor de omwonenden, dus de toegift was dit keer beperkt.


Peter Garrett, Martin Rotsey (gitaar), Rob Hirst (slagwerk, zang), Jim Moginie (gitaar, keyboard, zang)  en Bones Hillman (bas, zang) liepen daarom al om 20.00 uur het podium op en hadden er zin in.  Ze begonnen met ‘The Dead Heart’, dat de stemming er goed inbracht. Het concert van twee uur zat vol met tal van hoogtepunten.  Van de lichtere nummers ‘Golden Age’ en ‘Truganini’, naar de drieslag van het bekendste album ‘Diesel and Dust’: ‘Whoah’, ‘Dreamworld’ en ‘Put Down That Weapon’. Ik was zeer onder de indruk van de pianoversie van „My Country“, dat met een koortje van de overige bandleden werd gebracht.
Natuurlijk was Garett, ondanks zijn 66 jaar, in de up-tempo nummers weer zijn fenomenale, explosieve en onnavolgbare zelf, met de hoekige dansbewegingen, de grote handgebaren en niet te stuiten sprongen en sprintjes.

Foto: HareD
Het laatste uur van het concert was één groot hoogtepunt. Onder andere ‘Only The Strong’, ‘Warakurna’, ‘Now Or Never Land’ en een fantastische uitgerekte versie van ‘Power and the Passion’, inclusief drum- en vooral trompetsolo. Het ging door met ‘Blue Sky Mining’, de klassieker ‘Beds are Burning’ en eindigde met ‘Forgotten Years’. Zoals gezegd restte er nog vier minuten voor de toegift, die werd gevuld met ‘King of the Mountain'.

Kortom: Midnight Oil rockten net zo goed als twee jaar geleden, wat op zijn beurt net zo goed, of zelfs beter was dan in hoogtijdagen in de jaren tachtig en negentig. Wat een passie, wat een fenomenale band.

HareD


Je kunt hier beluisteren waar we over schrijven



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

dinsdag 25 juni 2019

Shoals. Veecaten

This five song mini album was long in the making and releasing. Lukas Dikker and Johan Kooi decided late in 2014 to start a joint musical project. By bouncing ideas and songs to each other via the email slowly (ideas for) songs came together that culminated in Shoals. An album released in June of 2019.

Together they played all the instruments between them, with one notable exception. The saxophone is by jazz player Eddie Visser, who puts his quite remarkable and, yes, very jazzy stamp on Shoals.

Working for so long on an album, quite often results in an album that is sterile and worked over until all spontaneity has been squeezed out of it. Does Shoals sound like that has happened? In a way, yes. This music does sounds studied and slick at times. There are, at least, two reasons why I'm not concerned about the music on Shoals. The first is that Veecaten is not in the music business to please as a primary reason for its existence. This has everything to do with the second reason I bring up, the elements of estrangement on the verge of derailment of the smoothness that lurks underneath and even up front as in 'Koresand'.

Now I know Lukas Dikker primarily through his (former?) band Luik. 'Owls' is in my opinion the ultimate Snowstar Records record. The blue print for a lot of albums following it. Dikker on that album avoids all confrontation with notes that could even remotely create a hint at upsetting the apple cart of tranquillity. In the title song this serene smoothness is apparent straight away. The link with a current Snowstar Records act like I Am Oak is evident. The long held notes, the soft, modest singing.

The song morphs into 'Coral Express' when the serenity is upset, by sounds, a keyboard playing harsh played notes and Visser's saxophone. The saxophone continues in 'Tide Over' a jazzy song, not unlike I have heard on 'Kairos' by a Polish jazz band. The soft emptiness is discontinued further into the song. When all instruments are allowed to escape their cosiness. 'Tide Over' becomes more experimental where the organ plays fast chords, somehow not exactly falling into the jazz sound. The rest matches alright.

Veecaten, named after a village largely swallowed up by the IJssel over the ages, surprises me in a few ways on Shoals. The mix between the dream pop and the more experimental jazz compositions as well as the estranging elements works truly well. Like in 'Koresand' where, as I already mentioned, more and more elements are introduced creating havoc on the tranquillity it starts out with. The result is a song that is so interesting to follow. Slowly these elements drop away again and a hint of the outset is restored into the song.

With the final song 'How To Drown Without Being Found' the experimental outlook wins in the form of a six minutes plus song containing sound loops, soundscapes, hints at Pink Floyd until the 80 year old Eddie Visser returns to make the most concrete notes of this composition. I expect it to be played on 'Kairos' soon as it fulfils all criteria of the show.

Wo.

You can buy Shoals here:

https://veecaten.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

maandag 24 juni 2019

Experiments In The Dark. Where We Sleep

Today we look at three albums deserving full attention but were almost left hanging in the balance. This is the final one for which we turn, after L.A. and Groningen to London.

This is the kind of artwork that I see something different first every time I look at it. Then the lips, the whole mouth, the thumb but mostly the beautiful ornament wrapped around the thumb. Sometimes even the faded lettering. Intriguing artwork makes for an interest to learn more.

Hence I delved into Where We Sleep's EP and found a world of tough alternative rock that opens itself that through the way of playing that seems to keep notes floating around endlessly. Guitars are all over Experiments In The Dark but in front of it all is the dark-toned voice of Beth Rettig. She's all over Where We Sleep's sound; and rightly so. She is this albums queen bee alright.

Where We Sleep is Rettig's project. After her band Blindness folded in 2017, she was at a crossroad in her life. Creativity had to come out of her it seems. The result is a dark-toned, high on energy EP with five songs, that bring the songs of A Fugitive to mind immediately. There's a layer of electronics underneath the surface of all the songs. The drums? Could be real or programmed. Next up are the guitars that are very dominant in most songs. Long held notes or on the verge of exploding into uncontrollable feedback. The result is five songs full of energy with strong melodies. Beth Rettig knows where to find melodies, harmonies and counter melodies. At the same time she can be without compromise. A song like 'Control' is so loud and rough, without losing control for a second. 'Control' is like a steer bucking away, but being worn out by Where We Sleep without a chance to eject the rider as is the natural order of things in rodeo shows. Not here. The EP slips into 'Into The Light' without a second's hesitation handing the reigns to an amazed rodeo assistant after steering the mighty beast back to its cage where it collapses totally spent.

Promo photo: Nando Carniel Machado
She asked a few friends to help out on lead guitar in three of the songs. All the rest is by her own making. Including the more experimental final and title song. 'Experiments In The Dark' comes close to a non-song. Mostly it is the voice of Beth Rettig that determines what is the song. If anything it shows what a powerful voice she has. In the others she stands her ground firmly, here it is only her voice that determines the result.

When I turn the album on again, the long guitar notes and the shredding guitar bounce of the pattern played by the bass guitar and I know this EP is a formidable one. "I lose myself and I get what I deserve", she sings in 'What I Deserve'. Let's hope that she does on the basis of this great EP.

Wo.

You can buy Experiments In The Dark here:

https://wherewesleep.bandcamp.com/album/experiments-in-the-dark-ep


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

Nosk. Swinder

Vandaag doen we opnieuw drie albums in kortere bijdragen omdat ze dreigden over het randje van dit blog te kieperen, maar wel een plekje verdienen. Hier is de tweede. Van L.A. zwerven we naar Groningen.

Nosk begint alsof een onbekend nummer van The Beatles mijn kant op gestuurd is. Zo een waarin ze 'Penny Lane' aan het uitproberen waren, maar besloten een andere kant op te gaan, waarna deze pre-versie op de studiovloer achter bleef.

Zodra er gezongen wordt, in het Gronings, neem ik aan, valt die illusie weg, maar hij is wel gewekt en dat is op zich al knap. Mijn interesse is gewekt, ondanks dat zingen in een sterk dialect mij doorgaans direct iets anders laat doen. Door dit intro ben ik over mijn vooroordeel heen geholpen.

Dit is ook terecht, want Swinder presenteert op Nosk gewoon lekkere muziek en verschillende invalshoeken tot hun muziek. Licht jachtige up tempo of een ballad die met een iets ander arrangement bij Acda en De Munnik ondergebracht had kunnen worden. Door de zang moet ik steeds aan Skik denken, maar dat is even niet anders.

Promo photo
Nosk is geproduceerd door Tim Knol en opgenomen in zijn studio in Hoorn. Wie goed luistert hoort hem ook zingen in een aantal nummers. De countrytinten die af en toe opduiken zullen hier niet vreemd aan zijn. Swinder weet regelmatig een fraaie atmosfeer te bespelen. Zoals in 'Meerlam'. "Later als ik groot ben, wacht op meer" zingt Bas Schröder (denk ik althans). Nou, ik heb nieuws, wie een nummer als dit kan schrijven hoeft niet meer te wachten. Dat later is er al. Mooi, subtiel en melancholiek. Gewoon een pareltje dat wacht op ontdekking. En zo staan er meer op Nosk, een plaat om heerlijk naar te luisteren.

Wo.

Je kunt Nosk hier kopen:

https://www.platomania.nl/search/results/?searchartiest=swinder&searchtitel=


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

Rise. Hollywood Vampires

Today we do three records again that were released recently and in fear of being skipped, were it not that our Wo. is writing a little on the threesome anyway. We start in L.A. on the U.S.'s west coast.

The cover art of this album is almost as preposterous as the music on the new album by Hollywood Vampires. The music is as outdated as I am starting to become, were it not that the music is so much fun to listen to. It is simply so well made, that "a splendid time is guaranteed for all", to quote a lyric from another band that is totally outdated, yet still so enormously popular and quoted the text from a 19th century circus poster. Speaking of out of time, baby.

Hollywood Vampires is an all star band consisting of Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry and an alternating line up behind them of more or of less fame. So what I expect is what I hear: loud guitars and a rough way of singing. This is classic hard rock with loads of melodies. There's no doubt that the gentlemen are having loads of fun. Why otherwise go through all the bother. Each has proven in his own way to be a star.

Promo photo: Ross Halfin
The result sounds just like it should. A truckload of hardrock that is as totally predictable as it is good. Better. Best. Yes, this word is applicable to the music on Rise. Rockstars do not age if they do not want to. Listening to Rise I almost believe it to be true. Alice Cooper almost sounds as he did when I heard him sing for the first time on 1972's 'School's Out', his first hitsingle in NL. Johnny Depp's voice is much thinner, but he stands his ground. The guitar work by Joe Perry and Depp is simply great. The men playing behind them are very competent. The result is Rise and rise Hollywood Vampires do.

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


zondag 23 juni 2019

Titanic Rising. Weyes Blood

Weyes Blood pakt op Titanic Rising flink of zelfs overdadig uit en levert een buitengewoon fascinerend album op dat je op verschillende manieren kunt beluisteren

Weyes Blood, het alter ego van Natalie Mering, had al een drietal fascinerende albums op haar naam staan, maar zet een volgende stap met het bijzondere en wat mij betreft wonderschone Titanic Rising. Het is een album dat je heen en weer slingert tussen Joni Mitchell, Aimee Mann, ABBA, The Beatles, Kraftwerk, John Barry, Laura Nyro, Enya, Depeche Mode, Jenny Hval en nog veel meer, maar dat uiteindelijk vooral klinkt als Weyes Blood. Het is een album vol tijdloze popliedjes, maar ondertussen gebeurt er zoveel dat het je soms duizelt en bouwt Natalie Mering bijna stiekem aan een uniek geluid.

Het is een intrigerend rijtje albums dat de Amerikaanse band Weyes Blood op haar naam heeft staan. The Outside Room, het in 2011 verschenen en slechts in kleine kring opgepikte debuut van de band rond of feitelijk het alter ego van Natalie Mering, maakte het de luisteraar nog niet makkelijk met lange tracks en muziek die in het hokje freak-folk paste.
 
Op het in 2014 uitgebrachte The Innocents vermengde Natalie Mering, die voor Weyes Blood deel uitmaakte van de band Jackie-O Motherfucker, folk en psychedelica met zowel zweverige als donkere klanken en werden haar songs net iets toegankelijker. Deze lijn werd doorgetrokken op het uit 2016 stammende Front Row Seat To Earth, dat ook nog eens invloeden van de grote vrouwelijke singer-songwriters uit de jaren 70 verwerkte en nog wat toegankelijker en bij vlagen zelfs zoet klonk.
 
En nu is er dan Titanic Rising dat op het eerste gehoor een volgende reuzenstap zet richting de singer-songwriter pop uit de jaren 70. Op het geweldige Front Row Seat To Earth koos Weyes Blood zo nu en dan voor zoete klanken en deze zijn nu zo nu en dan verruild voor honingzoete klanken. De rijkelijk met strijkers versierde instrumentatie doet zeker bij eerste beluistering wat pompeus aan en wanneer Natalie Mering op haar mooist zingt heb ik zelfs wat associaties met The Carpenters (en dat is wat mij betreft niet iets om je voor te schamen).
 
Titanic Rising bevat een aantal tijdloze popliedjes die onmiddellijk herinneren aan de muziek die door de grote singer-songwriters uit de jaren 70 werden gemaakt. Het is bij Weyes Blood meestal echter niet zo simpel als het lijkt en dat is ook dit keer het geval. De instrumentatie op Titanic Rising zit volgestopt met bijzondere klanken en is experimenteler of in ieder geval avontuurlijker dan je bij oppervlakkige beluistering hoort.
 
Bij oppervlakkige beluistering hoor je natuurlijk de prachtige stem van Natalie Mering en de stevig aangezette pianoklanken en strijkers, maar wanneer je het album met de koptelefoon beluistert hoor je ook nog een eigenzinnige elektronische onderlaag, die het geluid van Weyes Blood toch weer iets unieks geeft. Het is een elektronische onderlaag die net zo makkelijk flirt met New Age als met 80s kitsch of juist 70s elektronica pioniers, waardoor de muziek van Weyes Blood je met grote regelmaat op het verkeerde been zet.
 
Titanic Rising kun je hierdoor op twee manieren beluisteren. Je kunt jezelf compleet verliezen in de rijk georkestreerde en volstrekt tijdloze popliedjes of je kunt op zoek gaan naar alle bijzondere details die Weyes Blood heeft verstopt op haar nieuwe album. In beide gevallen valt er veel te genieten.
 
Natalie Mering zingt op Titanic Rising met nog wat meer overtuiging en is niet bang voor een suikerlaagje meer of minder. Het doet me af en toe wel wat denken aan Aimee Mann en laat dat nu net een van mijn favoriete singer-songwriters zijn. De tijdloze songs staan soms met één been in de hoogtijdagen van de Laurel Canyon Scene, maar het is wel “Joni Mitchel geproduceerd door Brian Eno”, aldus AllMusic.com.
 
Titanic Rising zit vol echo’s uit het verleden (en sleept er ook nog eens Beatlesque of Abbaesque klanken en refreinen bij), maar iedere keer wanneer Weyes Blood het avontuur opzoekt ben je onmiddellijk weer in het heden. Ik kan me voorstellen dat er muziekliefhebbers zijn die het net wat te veel of zelfs flink “over the top” vinden, maar ik ben zelf steeds meer onder de indruk van het grootse en meeslepende album dat Weyes Blood heeft afgeleverd en dat ook bij de zoveelste beluistering weer nieuwe dingen laat horen.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Titanic Rising hier kopen:

https://weyesblood.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 22 juni 2019

Can't Stop The Bleeding. Mono in Stereo

It is not a pretty sight to the left of these words. The last drops have been wrong out of the beer cans and out of Mono in Stereo it seems. If the band has gone all the way in writing and recording these five songs they ought to be great, right?

Fact is that Mono in Stereo provides its listeners with a lot of energy. There may only be five songs but they are totally fulfilling if not satisfying.

It all starts off with 'The Conversation'. A song that almost sounds familiar. It took me a few sessions to realise what I was reminded of; Foo Fighters of course. With minor differences in the details. The sound is more down to earth. This is not an overblown production but a song made by mere humans with a talent for alternative and garage rock. A song I could imagine (in a wild dream, true) playing and making myself. The faint traces to Gin Blossoms' hits of the early 90s are also pleasing.

The surprise comes in song 2. After a strong guitar riffing intro a warm organ joins the whole and immediately changes the texture of the album. 'Different Kind Of Man' scores immediately with me because of this. Mono in Stereo shows it is able to look behind the wall of guitars and provide the world this little extra. Sometimes a small thing like that is enough to make my moments of enjoying new music.

Promo photo
Mono in Stereo is a band from Rockford, Illinois. Billy Maynard, Kevin Kalen, Tim Spinler and Mike Melenas are responsible for capturing all this energy on record. Men that have been active in punkrock music for over twenty years and now play together in a new band. After releasing 'Long For Yesterday' in 2015, Can't Stop The Bleeding is the band's second effort. As long as it keeps haemorrhaging songs like the ones on this EP, my advice is not to staunch that stream of inspiration too much. It is, unfortunately, the title song that I like less, but then four out of five is a great score in my book.

No, Mono in Stereo is not a band that plays original music. For that there are too many references to bands like the ones already mentioned and e.g. The Hold Steady. The fact that the music is good and I am enjoying myself here, is far more important. I listen to music primarily to be entertained and let that feature obviously be one of the strongest traits of Mono in Stereo.

Wo.

You can buy Can't Stop The Bleeding here:

https://rumbarrecords.bandcamp.com/album/cant-stop-the-bleeding


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 21 juni 2019

The Sparkling Black. Aura Blaze

Can a band surprise? Oh, yes. Can a band give me a fright? Sure it can. Can a band land on its feet any way? Hell, yes. That is about the process I went through listening to Aura Blaze's new album The Sparkling Black a few times.

My first listening session with The Sparkling Black was plainly disappointing. I was not hearing what I was expecting to hear. Where did that enormous, huge sound go? Where was the psychedelic hardrock I liked so much? What I was hearing could not be further removed from 'Aura Blaze'. What I was hearing instead was sixties pop with a weird little edge here and there.

So it took me a while before I put on The Sparkling Black once again. It was on route to the gym and I remember thinking this is actually quite fun and so I delved into the album some more. Slowly it opened itself to me, showing all the different layers Rhode Rachel put into his new album. The 60s are all over it for sure, but not the most obvious part of the 60s. Yes, there are loads of harmonies, in fact so many fine ones, but don't expect The Beatles or The Beach Boys. What I hear is more in line with a band like The Move, the little weirdness in the details, but with much better songs. Listen to how free flowing 'Good While It Lasted' is. There seem enough ideas in this single song to fill a whole record by a more average band. 'Good While It lasted' is a pop gem with so many details (and a classic 60s fast fade out), it is almost impossible to keep up with all of them.

Listening to the song I am reminded of how my mind works, its expectations, its longing for familiarity and more of the same. Not being complacent nor satisfied with my first impression is what gets me to my second or even third thoughts, to lend a little something from Terry Pratchett, a writer I've spent many a pleasant hour with through the year. The result often is the discovery of fine aspects in songs I did not hear before. And thus The Sparkling Black opened itself to me by the song and by the spin.

With 'Eyes Of The Rising Sun' a little early Pink Floyd enters the album. Again the song has this little extra and totally unexpectedly Aura Blaze's rock guitar erupts for a few bars, escaped and kicked back into the cupboard where it was locked up. The song does not need it, but it was nice while it lasted. The song in general reminds me of The Hague band The Stangs and its mini album 'Parable'. (Where are they now?)

The Sparkling Dark does not let itself be caught in one single hole. The album is diverse and ever stronger. Also less subtle by the song. With 'Manipulation' another and louder song is presented. Still there is this flavour of the 60s but more in a way Electric Light Orchestra was 60s or even the loudest side of The Moody Blues in the 70s was 60s. The guitar is let loose for the first time for real so we do move into 70s rock for sure, just listen to the harmonies at the end. The Sparkling Dark scores another point here with an extremely strong song. Notice I haven't even mentioned the strong voice of Björn Strid here, who adds some extra pepper to 'Manipulation'.

By then I'm totally convinced that The Sparkling Dark is one of the great releases of 2019 so far. This album is so diverse, ever surprising and not just because of how I opened this post, to the contrary. Listening to it presents the listener with so much different sides to hippie music, etched with more modern influences, that there are new details to discover with each spin. This makes The Sparkling Dark an intriguing album as well.

All the songs on this album show that Rhode Rachel is not just a good songwriter, but also a great arranger, singer and producer. And an art lover, as the artwork in itself shows. The Bosch figures in there are too cute in a cover that is simply intriguing. This is an album very much worth while to get acquainted with, deeply. So let me leave you today with giving the advice to start doing so here:

https://aurablaze.bandcamp.com/album/the-sparkling-black-2

and buy the album while you're there anyway.

Wo.


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 20 juni 2019

A Fireproof House Of Sunshine. The Hackensaw Boys

With A Fireproof House Of Sunshine The Hackensaw Boys return to these pages with its new five song EP. The first release since 'Charismo' in 2016. Since then the band has had an almost complete overhaul. Ever since I have ran into the band in 2004 band members have come and gone and sometimes return and leave again. Never as radically as in 2019 though. Only David Sickmen remains of the 2016 (and original) line up. The other members now are Caleb Powers (fiddle), Beau Dodson (drums/charismo) and Chris Stevens (upright bass).

There is another change as well, as all the songs in 2019 come from one person, instead of the many as in 2004's 'Keep It Simple'. David Sickmen is responsible for all five songs. That makes A Fireproof House Of Sunshine a far more one dimensional album than ever before. Gone are the fiddle powered country songs of Ferd Moyse. That fact makes The Hackensaw Boys a totally different band. Is that a bad thing?

No, it is not. In fact I hold David Sickmen in high esteem as a songwriter. The five songs on the new EP are heartfelt songs, where Sickmen soothes the person he is singing to and tries to make life easier all around. In 'Factory Blues' it is he himself who needs help. Personally and as a community member. 'Factory Blues' is a great song and an example how Sickmen is able to diversify his songwriting. Where the first three songs are classic David Sickmen balladry, 'Factory Blues' delves into country a little deeper, while working on the blues in an uptempo kind of way. Caleb Powers' fiddle sounds very traditional. The punky attack of the strings that Ferd Moyse brought to the band is certainly gone.

How this works out live, I can not tell as I missed the band last year when it played here for the first time in the new line up. A first hand account was extremely enthusiastic though. On record I can only say that I'm happy with The Hackensaw Boys' new record. David Sickmen has written five songs that are all interesting in their own right. The power comes into 'Late Night Kitchen' slowly giving the song a spark that makes it a song by this particular band.

It was only after listening to A Fireproof House Of Sunshine once again it dawned on me that I would not call the music on this album bluegrass, let alone the punk element that was an integral element in this band's universe. The Hackensaw Boys have become a more traditional band with this EP. Yes, there's a fiddle, but gone are the banjo, the mandolin and the three, four, five, six voiced harmonies. It is only in the final song that the memory of things gone are touched upon in 'You Act Like My Friend', with a great slide guitar solo as a bonus. A nice ending to the EP.

So wrapping up, yes, this is a totally different band with five new, interesting and good songs. I'm not complaining. Time to see the band live once more.

Wo.

You can buy A Fireproof House Of Sunshine here:

https://hackensawboys.bandcamp.com/album/a-fireproof-house-of-sunshine


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 19 juni 2019

Artists' fees in 1969. A conversation

Today another conversation between Gary, Mark and Wout. It started with a photocopy of a document that does make one wonder what happened to prices in the past 50 years and whether price correction has kept up for us ordinary citizens.... 

Gary, 7-5:
Had this photo of a document sent to me by a friend….. 

Wout, 7-5:
This is quite a price, Gary. Would love to put that on the blog. Can you ask your friend? It would be nice to know what the same bands (that still exist) cost today.

Mark, 7-5:
Interesting to see the relative state of play of some of the top bands shown by the fees they could command. At the top end, The Small Faces had had the most pop profile on British TV during 1968 following their string of hits culminating in Lazy Sunday. Fleetwood Mac were riding high with chart-topping Albatross in November/December. The Pink Floyd, however, were on a par with now largely forgotten Love Sculpture and at this juncture in their career were still trying to find their new direction following the departure of Syd Barrett after the second lp Saucerful of Secrets and singles such as Let There be More Light and Point me at the Sky that had fizzled in the latter part of 1968. After reaching the dizzy heights of psychedelia under Syd's charismatic but doomed leadership the band were now mainly playing the college circuit and were about to give up the pop market altogether under Roger Waters' more earnest leadership.

What else of note? The Moody Blues and Joe Cocker were now established big names but a more modest fee for Deep Purple who were just starting out really at this time and still with their original vocalist before Ian Gillan was recruited later that year to steer them in a heavier direction. Alvin Lee's Ten Years After were about the heaviest band going at this time boosted by a phenomenal performance at Woodstock later that year - so a fair price I think. Fairport Convention had just recruited their second lead vocalist, Sandy Denny, who with Richard Thompson would later that year turn them into the biggest folk-rock band of all time. Rory Gallagher was like the Fairports a stalwart of the European concert circuit for many years and here is making an early appearance in the guise of his first real blues outfit (The) Taste. Marmalade had had an enormous hit with Ob-la-di off the White Album so could command a high price but they soon fizzled out without much to offer in terms of original material. I have to confess The Bakerloo Line and Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera passed me by completely: you got me on them!

I am in Tokyo by the way - about to hit Shibuya to check out some of the best record shops in the world!

Mark, 7-5:
Info about Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera here John Peel liked them and there were links to The Strawbs after lead members shed their psychedelic colours. Timebox (sic) were another second division psychedelic singles outfit who would evolve into progressive band Patto whose l.p. Roll'em Smoke'em Put Another Line Out is highly sought after - and must hold the record for the number of explicit drug references you can cram into an album title. My brother had a copy which I regrettably sold when I was broke.

The agent is rather careless with the names of the artists he's supposed to be promoting! The father of British blues and mentor for the early Stones is Alexis Korner with a 'K' (I used to listen to his blues programmes on the BBC) and 'Easy Beat' is presumably The Easybeats - an Australian beat combo who had had a huge hit with Friday on My Mind. I see from a bit of online digging that 'Baker Loo Line' must be The Bakerloo Blues Line who according to  The Audiophile Man supported Led Zep at gigs and members jumped around various bands of that ilk like Humble Pie. The Gun led by two brothers named Gurvitz  had a hit the previous October with Race with the Devil and they later joined up with Ginger Baker after Cream split as The Baker-Gurvitz Army. Chicken Shack were another British blues staple but with a  female lead singer with the wonderful name Christine Perfect who would become more famous as Christine McVie after marrying the Fleetwood Mac member. Traffic's history is also complicated - Dave Mason, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood must have lost the rights to keep the band name after Steve Winwood left around this time to join Clapton in Blind Faith.

Early 1969 was a fascinating time in the history of British rock as out and out blues gave way to 'progressive music' as the dust settled on an uncertain phase of post-psychedelic experimentation. Some great music to come therefore but some of the fun, wit and colour went out the window in the process.

Mark, 8-5:
And if you are curious about late addition to the roster Carley Hill - another blues band but really close to the edge of obscurity! -  I found some info here  

And crikey Wikipedia tells me Eire Apparent featured Henry McCullough who was the Wings guitarist on My Love and the Red Rose Speedway album - and also that none other than Jimi Hendrix played on their l.p. Sunrise recorded and produced by him in LA after they had supported him on a US tour. One for me to look out for in Shibuya!

Alan Whitehead family photo
Gary, 8-5:
Yes of course, Wout, although I don’t think it is her property… I believe that she got this from another friend. I don’t think it will be an issue putting it on your blog, so please do!

Yes a lot of these names bring back many memories including my band Monolith once supported Chicken Shack at the Tramshed in Woolwich ( https://www.glypt.co.uk/tramshedhistory/ ) around 1980… although Christine Perfect/McVie had long left it had become a male only outfit. Also my first drum tutor was Alan Whitehead of Marmalade who used to give me lessons in 1966/67 (see photo that his Mum gave me a few years later!).

Wout, 4-6:
To return to this conversation. Coming weekend the Pinkpop festival has its 50th edition. Still under the management of the same guy, Jan Smeets. Oor Magazine, my Dutch music magazine, had an overview of all the festivals of the past years. The first festival charged 2,5 Dutch guilders as an entrance fee. Now the prices mentioned in the overview we started our conversation with are put in perspective. The same goes for some of the ticket stubs I saw from one of you a while back from early 70s shows. In the same line I was able to enter a football match between NAC Breda en Feijenoord for 1,25 guilders in 1971.

The Pinkpop festival for years is a multi million dollar affair and sometimes no money in the world can seduce a band to come. The entrance fee now is something in the order of €225. For three days, where the original festival was 6 acts on one stage. Traditionally there was one Dutch band, always the opener. That changed but only quite late on in the editions.

Were shows at the time a way to sell more units, where everyone profited more from than the artists. Sure they got rich, at least the top segment was, but most of the money of one album goes to everybody except the artist. So low entry prices were a double setback. Nowadays the album is an excuse to tour, where older big bands even tour without them as people will show up. New songs are seen as a nuisance stopping them from hearing their old favourites. Something stopping me from going sometimes truth be told. How many times do I need to hear 'Satisfaction' live?, just to mention an example. Yes, I did go two years ago. My girlfriend had never seen them and I shared the experience. In quality there's no comparing to Rotterdam 1990. Band and audience were ablaze that evening in May.

I have never been to Pinkpop by the way. Somehow festivals are not really my thing. Although I have been to a few through the decades. Always one day affairs. That's more than enough. Highlights from Pinkpop are shown on television. That's enough for me.

Mark, 4-6:
I remember Pinkpop from my time working in Rotterdam in the mid-seventies. I went to one festival near Amsterdam but can't remember anything about it other than sitting in the sun - not even who played - so I must have had a good time!  I may have a note somewhere in my ramshackle archives.

I remember by the way Boudewijn de Groot from that time as a Dutch Dylan. As Trump overwhelms us with his visit to the UK this week, perhaps we can dig out  Welterusten Meneer de President . Did he sing in English at all?

Times have indeed changed. Concert tours and festivals used to be loss-makers for the artists but were crucial in helping to sell records in those days of very few media channels. Now the situation seems to be reversed: artists make more money out of performing live including festivals which have proliferated and become big business while sales of physical recordings have collapsed in the digital age.

Are you following the Morrissey saga at all? He seems now to be supporting right wing politics and his once fond twists in English nostalgia have evolved into unhealthy nationalistic arrogance. Bona drag indeed. Very strange it's turned out this way but we can still enjoy The Smiths and his early solo albums with a clear conscience though. 

Wout, 4-6:
Boudewijn de Groot's famous 1966 protest song may be very relevant indeed. I'll refrain from further comment. Let's suffice with noting there seems to be no end to how a politician can surprise me nearly every day. Probably because he isn't a politician.

De Groot always kept to his native language, with one exception. Late in 1968 he recorded the song 'In Your Life' under the name Tower. I am proud to say that I have the single in my possession since somewhere in the very early 70s. It was only a mild chart success. Years later I found out that there was a second single, but I never heard it. De Groot remained silent for over three years to return with a fabulous single called 'Jimmy' named after one of his sons. Although he scored two minor hits in between because of lp tracks turned single at a later date.

Looking it up, 'In Your Life' is on Spotify and the name of the second single is 'Captain Decker' and yes I did know that. 'In Your Life' is dated, but still has some great features in the music that I can still appreciate. It is one of those songs from the months that I truly started to discover music and not as something that came by or not because others played it for me. My all time favourite De Groot song is 'Prikkebeen'. Perhaps the best Dutch language song ever.

Last Friday a Dutch band called The Kik released a double live album. A recreation of Boudewijn de Groot's two most famous albums of the 60s. See my review last week and certainly worth a listen.

Morrissey is someone who is not so well known here as in the U.K.. The Smiths never were big here and Morrissey solo certainly not. They both have fans for sure. I am not one of them. I like some songs but that is it. So his "messages" do not reach these climes.

Wout, 12-6:
As an annex. First The Marmalade. The band actually scored a few hits here after the 'Ob-la-di - Ob-la-da' cover hit. They scored a hit first, late 1968, perhaps inspiring The Beatles to release a single from the White Album any way, entering the Dutch charts early in 1969. In 1970 and 1971 the band scored hits with 'Reflections Of My Life', a song I rather liked at the time but for the life of me can't get into my head without a prompt, 'Rainbow', 'My Little One' and 'Cousin Norman'. Of the original band singer Dean Ford (Thomas McAleese) is not around any more. Alan Whitehead turns 72 next month.

Pinkpop was last weekend. According to my newspaper it was The Cure who was the real big star of the festival. The band played for 2,5 hours with a long list of hits and seemed to have surprised the reporter of duty in a major way. There is a lot more of Robert Smith these days I noticed, but then, so is there of me.

Gary
Mark
Wout