dinsdag 19 november 2019

Ode To Joy. Wilco

Yes, well, what to make of the artwork of the latest Wilco album? I truly do not know, except that I do not care for it. The same was true for the music; at first listening that is. The album had sort of gone by without me noticing anything, really. As first listenings sometimes go.

Not much later I had the LP in the home and at first listening I truly wondered 'did I make a mistake after all'? It had the same effect on me as the first Spotify session. And then I listened with a headset on and the world changed for good. Ode To Joy is a totally justified title. There's no looking back once the latest Wilco world opened itself to me.

It is in the details Ode To Joy comes alive. It is where Ode To Joy lives. Let me explain below.

Wilco is a band that grew on me by the album. Ever so slowly. I did not much care for most of its 90s output. The albums of the first half of the 00s I found challenging, but could understand why people raved about them. When the 90s and the experiments blended into the output since say 2007, the band has me on board. So hence the unpleasant surprise on listening to Ode To Joy for the first time.

In an interview I read that front man Jeff Tweedy went into the studio first with Drummer Glenn Kotche and only when they had finished the basic tracks called in the rest. So Kotche must have been doing all sort of stuff, except play drums it seems. Not that I'm complaining (any more), but it is surprising isn't it to have a sort of drumless album when co-made by a drummer?!

But the album starts with just Kotche drumming???, I hear you say. True and still Ode To Joy is in many ways a drumless album. That impression or conclusion you might say, has to do with the overall atmosphere that is fleeting, brittle. The songs are nearly all subdued, soft. This results in a mellow mood, holding inner tensions within that at times come out to the front. The same goes for master guitarist Nels Cline. He makes some crackling noise that seem to creep out from behind a screen, only to immediately be put back into the box and sealed just to be sure. What remains are soft details. Sleigh bells, a peddle steel, soft tinkering piano notes, a rambling keyboard. Listen to 'Before Us' and you have the blueprint of Ode To Joy in 3 minutes and 22 seconds.

So I am to listen to a sad song?, you might ask. Yes, in this case you should, as 'Before Us' contains the essence of Wilco's musical beauty. It holds it all.

Ode To Joy is an album that can be seen as a lesson in constraint. Wilco holds back for most of the time. Songs are not so much empty, yet the band clearly has not been on the look out for adding as much as possible to them. What is added is sounds heightening the atmosphere, allow Jeff Tweedy to sing in his softest voice, keeping him in his strength, sounding vulnerable but true. And this is what Glenn Kotche has done in his drumming. It all is down to bare essence. Like in 'Quite Amplefier' it is just the bass drum (or floor tom?) we hear and nothing else.

Together it all adds up to another great Wilco album. No, it is not an earth-shattering masterpiece, what it is, is more than enough. The little hints at The Beatles here and there are welcomed for what they are, little embellishments to a beautiful Wilco song.


You can listen to and buy Ode To Joy here:


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


maandag 18 november 2019

Stef Kamil Carlens live. Amsterdam 16 November 2019, Paradiso Noord

Photo: Wo.
Stef Kamil Carlens presented himself as an old-time jazz artist playing a dark, old jazz haunt somewhere on this or another globe. Soft-voiced he introduced his songs with little stories about how they came about or what inspired him, while standing on the stage of a modern looking, middle-sized venue just across the river IJ in Amsterdam North.

With his new album 'Making Sense Of ', recently enthusiastically reviewed on this blog, under his belt, Carlens played a confident show. Surrounded by a (standing) bass, keyboards, drum, a harp and four other voices, the band produced a jazz setting to an alternative rock show.

Stef Kamil Carlens first claim to fame was being the bass player in dEUS, Tom Barman's band that put the focus on a vibrant Antwerp and Flanders alternative rock scene. A scene where many people played with many others, forming an seemingly endless string of bands. Thus Carlens played guitar and sang in his own band Moondog Jr., soon demanding more time than, so I imagine, dEUS would allow. Moondag Jr. became Zita Swoon and the rest is history. Soon I found I liked Zita Swoon much better than the original mothership. Zita Swoon was the band I started to buy records of and going to shows. Counting from memory this show was my fifth in circa 20 years, although Zita Swoon appears to be no more. Never say never though in Belgium.

Photo: Wo.
In the superb show in Paradiso Noord, Carlens and band played almost all the songs of the last album and made them come totally alive. The rocking songs rocked just this little bit more on stage, while the ballads received that glow that make them shine. The interaction between the harp and the guitar worked really, really well, giving the music a totally different perspective. The percussion woven into the drumkit led to a host of different sounds, adding a special air to several songs. The drums were far from a traditional kit. Percussive instruments, electronics combined with a snare drum and some cymbals. Together they produced an amalgam of sounds setting the rhythm.

Carlens played several different guitars. The dobro providing the most distinctive sound of all. Nice slides, dirty howls and percussive snare stomping gave the songs a dry desert, haunted vibe, setting the show alight with emotions to which the audience responded immediately.

I already knew 'Making Sense Of' is a good album. It just went up one more notch having heard the songs live. Hearing how many of his new songs Carlens played, it is obvious he is quite content with them. Hearing his fans responding, it was also clear how happy they were to hear them, open up to them, while receiving some of the classic Zita Swoon and Moondog Jr. songs with veneration. Just like they should be received. Stef Kamil Carlens lives in the present and that is the best place to be for an artist. In other words, a great and inspired show.


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


zondag 17 november 2019

Perfection? Yes! Half Moon Run live, Amsterdam Wednesday 13 November 2019, Paradiso

Photo: Wo.
Two weeks ago I ended my review of Half Moon Run's latest album A Blemish In The Great Light with the comment can these guys ever be this good on stage? An answer came from the gentleman promoting the band in The Netherlands: "believe me, they are". The answer came from the band itself. There were moments that all I could do was just watch in disbelieve to all that was going on on stage.

While watching Leif Vollebeck playing the support slot, there were all these stacks of instruments covered in behind sheets. What can it all be? Well, all sorts of keyboards, two drumkits, surrounded by more keyboards. And not a guitar insight yet.

For the fans of the band no surprise of course but for a firsttimer like me it is quite a surprise to see a drummer, play drums, two keyboards and sing at the same time, while the second drummer drums, or plays, keyboards or a bass guitar. Dylan Phillips and Isaac Symonds are human automatons, it seems. It is singer Devon Portielje who has an easy time. Just sing and play guitar and a floor tom in one song. The other three keep changing and switching, even during songs. Yes, lead guitarist Connor Molander plays keyboards and harmonica as well and does not mind switching guitar or keyboards during a song as well. On top of that all there are these heavenly harmonies, two, three or four voices strong. So yes, this band is as good as on record. If not better.

If Half Moon Run is one thing, it is in control. Even when the band goes full out, it is never with total abandon to see what happens when they make some noise, no, it is fully to support the song. The result being a perfectly mixed sound, totally balanced, while I was not in need of ear plugs at any moment.

Photo: Wo.
The audience of Half Moon Run is young with many girls. Definitely a show where I brought up the average age some and then more. A show where many were able to sing along songs word for word. What I have with albums from 40 years and a little ago. Nowadays it simply seems an impossibility to remember lyrics (or names of band members and songs titles for that matter). It comes with the years, so they say. I loved seeing the devotion on the faces of some people around me and am sure my own will have shown the same. Half Moon Run is a band to be devoted to.

The only complaint I can possibly have is that the band did not play a few of my favourite songs from the new album. When all is said and done I can live with that for sure. This was a show that touched upon perfection. I am sure if we asked each member individually they will own up to having made a mistake, forgetting a line e.g. in the acoustic song, as a whole this show was perfect, magical. One to cherish for a long time.

Photo: Wo.
Leif Vollebekk is another matter. At least as far as I'm concerned. What I saw was the total devotion of the man to his songs and the way he completely, as it were, disappears into them when performing. For me I could certainly listen to his music. It is not a punishment, so to say, yet I miss something in his songs. There's seldom a melody to cling to, a chorus to sing along to, or something up beat. The music all is of a certain tempo, with percussion missing, until we were asked to finger-klick along. As a whole it sort of drags itself along. Vollebekk's certainly pleasant song does not save him here. The 'country' song was the big change in the show. A harmonica Neil Young style made the show come alive. For me, unfortunately only for one song. Leif Vollebekk's music is not for me, but I certainly admire his musicality and ability to play with his music.


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


zaterdag 16 november 2019

Vie Future. La Féline

La Féline maakt een bijzonder en intiem klinkend album dat steeds meer aan schoonheid, avontuur en bezweringskracht wint.

Vie Future is mijn eerste kennismaking met de muziek van La Féline en het is een kennismaking die diepe indruk heeft gemaakt. Het alter ego van Agnès Gayraud heeft een zich langzaam voortslepend album gemaakt dat wordt gedragen door bijzondere elektronische klanken en fluisterzachte vocalen. Het lijkt een sober en atmosferisch klinkend album, maar ondertussen gebeurt er van alles in de muziek van La Féline en duiken steeds weer accenten van een bijzondere schoonheid op. Ik ben niet vies van de lichtvoetige popmuziek die normaal gesproken uit Frankrijk komt, maar dit intense en avontuurlijke album is toch een paar klassen beter. 

Ondanks mijn matige beheersing van de Franse taal heb ik al heel wat jaren een zwak voor Franse popmuziek en voor muziek van Franse zangeressen in het bijzonder.
Dit jaar is de spoeling vooralsnog dun. Lou Doillon leverde een prachtalbum af maar zingt in het Engels, L’Épée maakt muziek die nauwelijks aansluit bij de tradities van de Franse popmuziek en hetzelfde geldt voor de muziek van de in Frankrijk geboren Claude Fontaine, die op haar uitstekende debuut vooral aan de haal ging met reggae en bossanova.
Mijn favoriete Franse zangeressen en hun soortgenoten laten het dit jaar kennelijk afweten, maar gelukkig is La Féline er nog. Ik moet eerlijk toegeven dat ik de vorige twee albums van het alter ego van de Française Agnès Gayraud niet of nauwelijks ken, maar haar nieuwe album Vie Future is van een bijzondere schoonheid.
Agnès Gayraud is niet alleen muzikant, maar ook schrijver en filosoof. Haar filosofische interesses werden geprikkeld toen haar stiefvader stervende was en ze zelf op het punt stond om een kind te baren. Vie Future is een album over de relatie tussen geboorte en de dood of over ons bestaan in meer algemene zin.
Dat is geen licht thema en ook in muzikaal opzicht is Vie Future geen makkelijk album. Samen met producer Xavier Thiry heeft La Féline gekozen voor een zich langzaam voortslepend en opvallend ruimtelijk, of zelfs kosmisch, geluid. Het is een geluid dat subtiel is ingekleurd met elektronica en incidenteel strijkers.
Het is een geluid dat voor een belangrijk deel sferisch is, maar bijzondere accenten geven het geluid van La Féline iets eigenzinnigs en mysterieus. Het past prachtig bij de fluisterzachte stem van Agnès Gayraud, die zeker niet het zoveelste zuchtmeisje is, maar absoluut iets verleidelijks of dromerigs toevoegt aan de songs op Vie Future.
Het nieuwe album van La Féline is wonderschoon, sprookjesachtig en rustgevend, tot je door hebt hoeveel er gebeurt op het album en hoe knap het allemaal in elkaar steekt. Het is muziek die zich niet makkelijk laat vergelijken met de muziek van anderen, wat wel blijkt uit het feit dat ik iedere poging die ik tegen kwam geen moment treffend vond. Vie Future sluit zeker aan bij de tradities van de Franse popmuziek, maar klinkt ook anders.
La Féline verbindt zachte en bijna lieflijke popliedjes met flink wat avontuur. Zeker wanneer de details in de instrumentatie uiterst subtiel zijn en de zang van Agnès Gayraud fluisterzacht, is Vie Future een album dat je naar binnen zuigt en het bijzondere muzikale universum van de singer-songwriter uit Parijs in trekt. Het is een muzikaal universum waarin van alles gebeurt en dat geen grenzen kent. Wanneer voorzichtige ritmes veranderen in opzwepende ritmes sluipen invloeden uit de wereldmuziek of de synthpop het album in en zo gebeurt er in iedere track wel iets dat je niet verwacht.
Agnès Gayraud knutselde Vie Future in elkaar met haar gitaar, wat pedalen en een iPad, wat haar songs voorziet van een intiem en aards karakter. Het contrasteert prachtig met het rijke kosmische elektronische klankentapijt op het album. De oogst in Frankrijk mag dit jaar misschien tegenvallen wanneer het gaat om interessante popmuziek, maar het nieuwe album van La Féline is er een om te koesteren.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Vie Future hier beluisteren en kopen:


of luister naar onze Spotify Playlist en ontdek waar we over schrijven:


vrijdag 15 november 2019

Bloom Innocent. Fink

Time flies when you're having fun or in the case of this blogger, listening to new music. Fink's two previous albums are already over two years old. The blues based album and 'Resurgam' both were received favourably on these pages and now there's Bloom Innocent.

Just recently I wrote about Nick Cave's latest album and how Cave seems to be drawn into his own musical black hole, to disappear into his own music. Fink has never been the outgoing type in his music, but the analogy with Nick Cave's 'Ghosteen' is not so far behind the mark.

Bloom Innocent is Fink's 9th album since 2000. At 47 he has become a seasoned artist, who knows his ropes. It shows on Bloom Innocent. In a way it is an album that shows routine. What I hear is familiar and welcome. As a whole it seems like a blanket lies over the album, the atmosphere is so subdued, muffled, like sounds in the snow or fog. An instrument can creep up to me, only to disappear again, at best a shadow in that mist.

Another impression that keeps getting back to me is that song from the U.K. triphop band Massive Attack, 'Teardrop'. Bloom Innocent presents fragmentary music. A song can "explode" because the drums kick in full force, the other instruments and sounds/samples remain fragmented, something that makes 'We Watch The Stars' such an exciting song. A million little things happen in between the returning notes and chords.

It is in these activities on the album where Fink leaves the 'Ghosteen' analogy. For that there is too much going on, notwithstanding the fact that Bloom Innocent is a withdrawn album. Part of the attraction is the variation in instruments, a banjo in 'Once You Get A Taste' and the pretty aahhs in the same song. Those moments where the blanket is taken away to reveal the beauty underneath in its full glory. When I'm in the right mood, like I am right now, the beauty of this song is a bright shining light, moving me deeply. 'Once You Get A Taste' has this extremely lazy beat, with a recurring dirty Jimi Hendrix mixed with Mark Knopfler like guitar lick at the end.

It is easy to overlook Bloom Innocent. Superficially it may seem not a lot is going on, a conclusion selling the album short. Bloom Innocent is an album to spend time alone with. Only then it will open itself to you fully. This is not a rare thing for Fink albums, like e.g. 'Resurgam', but this one has this dark streak and the blanket at times. These are details in need of conquering. Whether you are able to do so, dear reader, is solely up to your taste and mood. Bloom Innocent is not an easy album. Still I found it worth my while to invest in. Several beautiful moments have revealed themselves to me, moments I would never have noticed if I had only played the album in the background. Perhaps a hint would have presented itself, never the full glory. So happy listening.


You can listen to and buy Bloom Innocent here:


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


donderdag 14 november 2019

Three Chords & The Truth. Van Morrison

Yes, Van Morrison returns once more to these pages. To my surprise his new album landed on my doormat, from an undisclosed source. Thank you, however you are. So I put Three Chords & The Truth into my player and, as somehow often happens, Van Morrison tickled my good side in music.

Arguably Van Morrison makes the same record for say 40 years. I know, this is somewhat overstated, but it can't be denied that I do not need to have all of his records, let's say from 1987 onwards. 'No Method, No Guru, No Teacher' is the last one I bought.

Every once in a while an album comes by that seems just a little more alive and inspired and Three Chords & The Truth certainly counts here. 'March Winds In February' has this little edge in which the acoustic guitar plays a large role. The song made me interested to listen further and I was not disappointed.

Van Morrison started for me with the Them single 'Gloria' somewhere in the 70s and the Them track 'How Long, Baby' that I taped from some radio show. A great, bluesy song with its high sounding organ. The tape disintegrated years ago I suppose. Solo, my first album was 'Beautiful Vision', that got some airplay at the time with 'Cleaning Windows'. My favourite became 'Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart', with its soft Celtic influences. The live show in Rotterdam led to nothing but confusion on stage, a highly irritated Morrison trying to get the sound or the mix right, then seemed to give up, to return for a messy 'Gloria' in the encore, only to storm off and stop the show within an hour. On record for me it never got better. And no, I do not much care for his masterpieces 'Astral Weeks' and 'Moondance'. Too jazzy for me.

On Three Chords & The Truth Morrison mixes his jazzy sound with soft rock and blues. With some skating on the edge of the abyss of plagiarism where singing melodies are concerned. The organ soothes things in the background, soft drumming and an intricate play between piano, guitars and organ that alternate for a few notes up front. All fits intricately while remaining very delicate. Over it the, always, stained sounding voice of Van Morrison sounds; despite the fact it is evident he is singing with ease. Together it simply makes for some very fine listening. 14 Songs long Morrison shares his musicality with his audience at the best of his abilities and simply guarantees a certain level of musicianship. The band he has gathered around him simply plays fantastic. It all seems so easy to do. As if I only needed to join in and it would still sound this good. Knowing Van Morrison's obsession with perfection, it will be quite the opposite.

So, summing up, yes, I was surprised by Three Chords & The Truth. The album has a certain sense of urgency hidden in that laidback jazzy music, an urgency that made me pay attention. This is simply a fine album.


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


woensdag 13 november 2019

Performance. Stone Irr

Stone Irr debuteerde twee jaar geleden met het bijzonder fraaie Sinner en vervolmaakt het geluid van dit bijzondere debuut nu met wonderschone arrangementen.

De inmiddels in Los Angeles woonachtige Stone Irr dook twee jaar geleden op met de jaarlijstjesplaat Sinner. Het album werd helaas niet in brede kring opgepikt, maar heeft de lat hoog gelegd voor het nieuwe album van de Amerikaanse muzikant. Performance overtuigt desondanks makkelijk. Stone Irr heeft het recept van Sinner behouden, maar ook verrijkt met wat uitbundigere arrangementen, die met name putten uit de Westcoast pop, maar die ook eigentijds klinken. Het vollere geluid is gelukkig niet ten koste gegaan van de intimiteit van de muziek van Stone Irr, die ook dit keer indruk maakt met songs vol weemoed. Alle reden dus om Performance vol liefde te omarmen.

In de herfst van 2017 kreeg ik, overeigens naar aanleiding van mijn zeer lovende woorden over het debuut van Phoebe Bridgers, bij toeval Sinner van de Amerikaanse muzikant Stone Irr in handen.
Het officiële debuut van de muzikant uit Bloomington, Indiana, beviel me zo goed dat ik het album onmiddellijk uitriep tot een van de grote verrassingen van 2017, maar toen ik een paar maanden later mijn jaarlijstje samenstelde was ik het album kennelijk alweer vergeten. Zonde, want Sinner is een album dat absoluut jaarlijstjeswaardig was. Vorig jaar kreeg Sinner alsnog een Nederlandse release, maar echt opvallen deed het album in Nederland helaas niet.
Sinner, dat ik in de herfst van 2017 vergeleek met de muziek van Sufjan Stevens en Jeff Buckley overgoten met een Beach Boys sausje en dat opviel door bijzondere teksten waarin het opgroeien in de Amerikaanse Bible Belt centraal stond, komt hier nog altijd met enige regelmaat uit de speakers en daarom was ik verheugd toen ik de naam van Stone Irr deze week zag opduiken in de lijst met nieuwe releases.
Performance gaat verder waar Sinner twee jaar geleden ophield en laat een deels bekend geluid horen. Stone Irr heeft Indiana inmiddels verruild voor Los Angeles en kiest op zijn tweede album voor een wat voller geluid. Het is een geluid waarin nog altijd flink wat echo’s uit de muziek van The Beach Boys opduiken, maar in de melodieën zijn dit keer ook invloeden van The Beatles te horen.
Stone Irr koppelt de mooie melodieën en Beach Boys achtige vocalen aan intieme folksongs met een vaak wat weemoedig karakter. Het is een combinatie van invloeden die Sinner twee jaar geleden een uniek geluid gaf en dat geluid is vervolmaakt op Performance. Op het nieuwe album heeft Stone Irr meer aandacht besteed aan de instrumentatie en productie, waarvoor de mij onbekende Ben Lumsdaine heeft getekend. Performance heeft de intimiteit van zijn voorganger behouden, maar klinkt rijker. In de openingstrack duiken opeens gruizige gitaren op, maar ook blazers en strijkers duiken met enige regelmaat op in de arrangementen die met name bij beluistering met de koptelefoon van een bijzondere schoonheid blijken.
De muziek van Stone Irr herinnerde twee jaar geleden al aan de jaren 60 en 70, maar doet dat op Performance nog wat nadrukkelijker. Zeker wanneer de melodieën honingzoet zijn duiken flarden Westcoast pop op, maar de muzikant uit Los Angeles sluit ook aan bij de melancholische singer-songwriters uit het heden.
Waar melancholie op Sinner domineerde laat Performance ook met enige regelmaat een groots en wat zonniger klinkend geluid horen, maar de muziek van Stone Irr blijft ingetogen en intiem en heeft zeker wanneer de weemoed het wint ook wel wat raakvlakken met de albums van Elliott Smith.
Het debuut van de Amerikaanse muzikant maakte op mij een onuitwisbare indruk en dat heeft de lat hoog gelegd voor het toch altijd al lastige tweede album. Performance heeft mij desondanks vrij makkelijk overtuigd. Stone Irr heeft de kracht en schoonheid van zijn intieme debuut behouden, maar zet op zijn nieuwe album ook stappen. Sinner deed ondanks herhaalde pogingen niet zo heel veel, maar het bijzonder fraaie Performance verdient echt een veel beter lot.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Performance hier beluisteren en kopen:


of luister naar onze Spotify Playlist en ontdek waar we over schrijven:


dinsdag 12 november 2019

Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band. Madison Square Garden, New York City, woensdag 30 oktober 2019

Foto: HareD
Met eerst Midnight Oil in Hamburg, daarna Muse in Keulen lijkt een trend op WoNoBlog gezet: het bezoeken van concerten in het buitenland. HareD brengt het allemaal nog een stap verder. Berichtte hij al eerder over Bob Seger's cd 'I Knew You When',ditmaal toog hij naar The Big Apple om getuige te zijn van de afscheidstour van een van zijn helden. Hieronder volgt zijn relaas.

Een wens, droom zo je wilt, die na meer dan 30 jaar uitkomt. Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band live zien. En dan ook nog in een van de meest gerenommeerde zalen ter wereld: Madison Square Garden, New York City. Alles kwam bij elkaar om te besluiten speciaal voor het concert naar New York te gaan. Bob Seger was bezig aan zijn afscheidstournee, dat wist ik al langer, maar tot nu toe had ik de aandrang weten te weerstaan. Maar toen kondigde hij vijf extra shows aan, de vliegtickets waren betaalbaar en de vrije dagen konden makkelijk worden opgenomen. En een lang weekend New York is natuurlijk nooit weg.

Was het de moeite waard? Zeker weten!

Foto: HareD
Bob Seger was in topvorm en zijn 14-koppige (want inclusief drie zangeressen en vier man blazers) Silver Bullet Band ook. De recensent van Rolling Stone vroeg zich dan ook volkomen terecht af: waarom moet die man met pensioen?  Tja, hij is natuurlijk wel 74 en moest zijn afscheidstournee (rond de 60 shows, meer dan een miljoen kaartjes verkocht) een keer onderbreken voor een operatie aan zijn rug. Dus helemaal gek is het niet. Maar Bob Seger lijkt te vitaal om nooit meer een podium te betreden. Nu ja, we wachten het af…

Foto: HareD
Het mooie van een afscheidstournee is dat alle hits nog een keer langskomen, en dit concert was geen uitzondering. Wat een heerlijk feest. Van ‘Still the Same’ tot ‘Old Time Rock ‘Roll’, via ‘Mainsteet’ naar ‘Like A Rock’. En meer, twee toegiften, 27 nummers in totaal. Persoonlijke hoogtepunten waren ‘Famous Final Scene’, ‘We’ve Got Tonight’, ‘Beautiful Loser’ en 'Turn The Page'. Dit laatste nummer was een van zijn eerste hits in Amerika, aan het begin van de jaren zeventig. Het publiek reageerde dan ook zeer enthousiast, ook op de mooie saxofoon-solo’s en begon en masse mee te zingen. Dat was een moment voor ‘Madison Square Garden-Magic’, want de zaal -die verder verrassend gewoontjes is en eerlijk gezegd op iedere willekeurig indoor sportstadion in de VS lijkt- heeft dan een zeer bijzondere en mooie akoustiek. Heel speciaal.

Bob is en blijft een held, wij voelden ons gezegend en blij om erbij te zijn. 


maandag 11 november 2019

New Age Norms 1. Cold War Kids

Like Foals Cold War Kids spreads its new songs over two separately released albums. The difference with Foals is that I did not find that band's first album interesting enough to write on (and haven't heard part 2 yet. And Cold War Kids intends to release three albums).

Cold War Kids is around for one and a half decade as a recording band. I remember my then colleague Maarten tipping me on the band, but it was clear its music was not for me. The music on New Age Norms 1 is though.

Despite the fact that at times I'm getting Scissor Sisters moments and I do not write this positively, Cold War Kids stays on my good side. The music may be disco influenced with the rhythms all in place It even includes a 12" like break, ending 'Waiting For Your Love'. Just like the head voice of singer Nathan Willett. He's not afraid of reaching Eurovision Song Contest winner Duncan Lawrence heights on Cold War Kids. Like 'Dirt In My Eyes' has a straight Racoon influence, although I doubt Cold War Kids has heard of the Zeeland band.

Reading up on the release online, I notice how disappointed older fans are with the album, where I'm not bothered by the legacy of the band. That makes I can judge New Age Norms 1 on its own merits more easily. Provided that this album is not a masterpiece, as it is not, it is highly entertaining. The variation between the songs makes it interesting and surprising to follow during the first listening sessions. I am certainly surprised listening to a song like '4th Of July'. In the singing Philly Soul, Bee Gees of the mid 70s, comes together musically with The Doobie Brothers of the Michael McDonald era. Without going all out, this is a fairly subdued song, just like e.g. 'What A Fool Believes' or 'Fanny (Be Tender)', the band hits the right kind of notes.

A little less understood by me is the The Killers move in 'Calm Your Nerves'. The song remains sort of bland. Despite Willett's singing  even. Let's return to what I think is the price song of New Age Norms 1: 'Fine Fine Fine'. Yes, it's Scissor Sisters in the chorus. The song is pumped up in several ways. Even Elton John comes to mind. If I were to listen critically, I would have some comments to make, were it not 'Fine Fine Fine' is so much fun. A lot is going on, with a few curve balls in there changing mood and speed for a while before going all out. It is not fluent though.

So, Cold War Kids has left the hard times behind and have found the good times, like so many of my generation did in the late 70s and hit the disco with its disco music. Cold War Kids dancing on top of that late 70s volcano that never truly erupted. The fun I had can not be taken away from me, for some there was a steep price to pay, for the fun they had, in the 1980s. Now the good times are here once more. Just listen to that bass at the end of 'Waiting For Your Love'.


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


zondag 10 november 2019

The Sea Of Everything. Rebekah Pulley

Er verschijnen iedere week zoveel nieuwe rootsalbums dat jezelf onderscheiden bijna onmogelijk is, maar Rebekah Pulley doet het met een album dat steeds leuker en verslavender wordt.

Aan nieuwe Amerikaanse rootsmuziek hebben we op het moment geen gebrek, maar wat valt nog op en voegt iets toe aan alles dat er al is? The Sea Of Everything van Rebekah Pulley wat mij betreft. De singer-songwriter uit Florida maakt traditioneel aandoende rootsmuziek, maar voegt net wat meer rock toe aan haar geluid. Bovendien schrijft ze songs die lekker energiek en aanstekelijk klinken en beschikt ze over eens stem die net wat meer met me doet dan de meeste andere stemmen van het moment. Heel veel aandacht gaat Rebekah Pulley vast niet krijgen en zeker niet in Nederland, maar liefhebbers van Amerikaanse rootsmuziek vallen zich echt geen buil aan dit bijzonder aangename album.

Ik krijg iedere week nogal wat nieuwe Amerikaanse rootsmuziek toegestuurd, maar moet steeds vaker constateren dat het onbekend of miskend talent in het Amerikaanse rootssegment weinig toevoegt aan alles wat er al is.
De meeste albums die ik wekelijks scan zijn niet goed genoeg of klinken zo doorsnee dat ik liever grijp naar de oude klassiekers. Het album van de mij onbekende Rebekah Pulley was de afgelopen week echter een uitzondering.
Het album van deze Rebekah Pulley wordt op cdbaby aangeprezen als “Beautifully crafted Americana songs by a singer-songwriter with a voice equal parts bourbon and honey.” Dat klinkt op zijn minst veelbelovend, net als het aangedragen vergelijkingsmateriaal dat bestaat uit persoonlijke favorieten als Kathleen Edwards (waar is ze gebleven?), Lucinda Williams en Neko Case.
The Sea Of Everything is mijn eerste kennismaking met de muziek van Rebekah Pulley, maar het blijkt al het zesde album van de singer-songwriter uit St. Petersburg, Florida. Het vorige album van de Amerikaanse singer-songwriter verscheen maar liefst zeven jaar geleden. Rebekah Pulley begon weliswaar op tijd aan het opnemen van haar nieuwe album, maar door de gezondheidsproblemen van producer Steve Connelly duurde het opnameproces uiteindelijk jaren. Het is misschien niet zo gek geweest, want The Sea Of Everything is een uitstekend album geworden.
Rebekah Pulley is inderdaad voorzien van een bijzonder stemgeluid. Ik weet niet zeker of ik de delen whiskey en honing kan onderscheiden, maar de stem van de singer-songwriter uit Florida spreekt me absoluut aan. Het is een stem die ik zelf zou omschrijven als zoet met een rauw randje en dat past prima bij de alt-country die Rebekah Pulley maakt.
De Amerikaanse singer-songwriter laat zich begeleiden door een aantal muzikanten uit de rootsscene van Florida en die klinkt, net als de Texaanse variant, wat rauwer dan de rootsmuziek die in Nashville wordt gemaakt. In de muziek van Rebekah Pulley is ook ruimte voor wat steviger gitaarwerk, waardoor een aantal songs wat meer de kant van rock op gaan en de Amerikaanse zelfs een beetje als Chrissie Hynde klinkt, maar roots staat toch centraal op The Sea Of Everything, dat zich niet alleen beperkt tot alt-country, maar ook heerlijk bluesy kan klinken.
The Sea Of Everything klinkt niet alleen net wat rauwer dan de meeste anders rootsalbums die ik wekelijks krijg toegestuurd, maar de muziek van Rebekah Pulley klinkt ook puurder dan doorleefder. Bovendien is The Sea Of Everything een energiek album dat je makkelijk meesleept. Hele opzienbarende dingen doet Rebekah Pulley volgens mij niet, maar haar betrekkelijk traditionele rootsmuziek bevalt me uitstekend. Wereldberoemd gaat ze vast niet meer worden, maar een tourtje in Europa moet toch mogelijk zijn met dit prima album.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt The Sea Of Everything hier kopen:


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zaterdag 9 november 2019

Lazarus, Wednesday 6 November 2019, De La Mar Amsterdam

Photo: Wo.
Not long before David Bowie's demise his musical Lazarus premiered on Broadway directed by Belgian born, Dutch resident Ivo van Hove. The musical received loads of attention as things Bowie tended to receive through the past decades. New York is far away, so it never crossed my mind to go and look at the musical. Now that it has premiered in Amsterdam, it was an excellent if belated birthday present from My Love.

For readers of this blog it is no surprise that I have been a fan of David Bowie for most of my life. Starting with 'Space Oddity' in 1969 as a kid, to the hits of the mid 70s and first shows I ever went to. Bowie was the first that counted. Although I may not play his albums regularly any more, any time my ears pick up a Bowie song my brain makes a small leap of pleasant recognition. Bowie's music is still fairly omnipresent. It simply comes by regularly. Lazarus thus is a trip down memory lane, but not for 100% as I did not really care for most of Bowie's output until 'Blackstar' since 1985.

I will not give too much away of the show as there are too many visual surprises that you have to undergo if you haven't seen the show and all others have seen them. Those not intending to go? Tough luck.

Circa 10 minutes before the start of the show a man in luxury pyjama's walks on stage and lies down, sleeping. I wondered what would happen when at the umpteenth show he would. Neglected by everyone in the audience he just lies there. It is the star of the show, the Thomas Newton character. Now this is relevant information. If I had not read the November 'Oor' I would not have a clue what this play was about. So here it goes.

Bowie played in a movie in the mid 70s, 'The Man Who Fell To Earth', about an alien on earth, who can't return to his own planet. I remember having seen the movie, at some point, long ago. I did not like it, did not really understand it, I think and it did not interest me as a teenager. The end of the movie is not the starting point of Lazarus, but something like 40 years later, when Newton is lonely, depressed, alcoholic, delusional and who knows what more and a rich man living in a luxurious New York apartment.

The play starts with Ricky Nelson's 'Hello Mary Lou' playing softly in the background. My very first single at an extremely young age and the first song my son heard on earth right after being born as it played on the radio a nurse switched on in the hospital. Weird coincidences are a part of life. "Mary Lou" is the ex-wife or girlfriend of Newton and plays a large role in the musical, but is never present live. On screen she is though. An interesting use of media.

From there a multimedia show starts full of excellent surprises making full use of modern techniques that astonish. The story itself is weird but easy to follow with the pointers to the film in mind. But like in many musicals, the text is the excuse to get to the next song.

Photo: Wo.
The cast? Excellent, there's no other word for it. Totally convincing. Yes, of course in the first song, 'Lazarus', I missed Bowie's voice, the two leading ladies have a musical style of singing, that is distinctly different from rock music, but I forgot it all. The band played great. Together they made me forget David Bowie. From a fantastic version of 'It's No Game', always one of my favourites, there was no looking back. In fact hearing some of these beautiful songs being sung by women gave a whole new perspective to them. The absolutely beautiful 'Absolute Beginners' stood out for me, just like 'Life On Mars' and 'Changes'. The surprise however was the Blackstarised 'Heroes'. This version is absolutely fantastic. The visuals during the song on stage are just as amazing. So basic, just a puddle of white stuff spreading ever so slowly, is enough to create a great effect.

During the show someone became unwell. The show was stopped. Before the show I saw someone barely able to get up from where he was sitting and having to stop at the stairs not able to continue. I thought literally I hope you make it upstairs. Whatever happened, I hope you fully recover, whoever you are. The compliments go to the theatre and cast for handling this situation very professionally. The show was wound back, visuals and all a few sentences and continued. I saw the 'Valentine' character literally hurtling himself back into the concentration needed to play the show. Well done. This is the reason I want to mention the incident. The reason is tragic of course. Great part by the way, this 'Valentine'.

As a final comment - yes, I get to write about 'Joker' on a music blog. In Lazarus as in 'Joker' I was wondering the whole time: 'What is it I'm seeing?' Is it real or imagined'? Fascinating isn't it when the two can just flow into each other and it is for us viewers to decide what was real and what not, in a situation that is not real from the beginning.

Photo: Wo.
Lazarus? Great show, but only for Bowie fans. Well, unless you like everything around the music as well as there is a lot to enjoy, says My Love, who was not a Bowie fan, until 'Blackstar' and had a great evening.

The salute at the end is very much intended. A farewell from the master himself. With Blackstar, truly one of his best albums, the museum, the musical, David Bowie has orchestrated his own farewell into the finest detail. Just like the museum exhibition showed how he orchestrated the finest details of his career from the very beginning (and saved it all!?). Lazarus is a truly great salute from the master to his audience and fans. His legacy lives far longer for sure because of it.


Information on Lazarus here:


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vrijdag 8 november 2019

Elephant. The New Shining

Life is full of surprises and often it becomes intrinsically better because of them. One surprise was the announcement of a new The New Shining album, the second that it dropped on my doormat recently, the final surprise was the extremely high quality of the music on the album.

The New Shining? Truth be told, I had all but forgotten about the band. The last time I played the previous album must have about five years ago. There are so many albums coming by that it is hard to keep up, let alone develop a true relationship with most of these albums. Only truly exceptional albums get to that level and get to compete with the favourites of old.

Like Johan The New Shining is a band that plays its music when singer, guitarist and songwriter 'Nax' Stok is able to do so. The elephant in the title is the elephant in the room called mental illness that needs to be more out in the open and openly discussed. Something Stok contributes actively to, in word and in the lyrics of Elephant.

The music and songs on Elephant is what it truly is about. I will not go as far to write that Elephant blew me away. For that the music is too clean. Apart from that almost all songs are of an extreme beauty. Melodically strong, well played, beautifully arranged, with nice and several memorable vocal melodies. Each individual song has that star quality of well worked out songs. Again a Dutch band comes up with a great album.

As I wrote Elephant is a clean album because of the well cared for arrangements. Nice synths are added to the sound, the guitars sound clean. They colour nicely between the lines. As such the music reminds me of the likes of Whitesnake or Vandenberg, with a major difference, I did not like those bands. The songwriting here is better, simply because The New Shining is not trying to be tougher than it is. The pop feeling is allowed to come in. Not unlike Aha, Saybia or Tim Christensen The New Shining blends rock with a smooth pop feel, but without resorting to the balladry the three Scandinavian bands are also famous for. The result is an album that remains more uptempo and solid.

There you have the reason I like Elephant so much. The New Shining has found a middle ground between blow wave, spandex 80s rock and sweet pop balladry. Like rolling well-developed biceps in soft silk shirts. Nax makes me extremely happy with the music he presents with his bandmates Arjan Nijman en Roel van der Sluis. Elephant is another album released in 2019 that causes my appreciation for the year to rise a little more once again. One of the better albums reviewed in the past weeks and some great ones have come by.


You can buy Elephant here:


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donderdag 7 november 2019

Colorado. Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Four grey(ing) men, who met 50 years ago or short after. Two played in a band called Crazy Horse with guitarist Danny Whitten and were asked to become the support band of Neil Young who had left the smouldering ashes of Buffalo Springfield but had also joined Crosby, Stills & Nash, first on stage and then on record, 'Déja Vu'.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse debuted in 1969 with the epic 'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere'. Off and on the band recorded through the decades with the just as epic 'Psychedelic Pill' as end of the road in 2012 or so it appeared. Tons of Neil Young releases followed, new and live releases from the years back, but not one with his first live band. And now, fifty years after that first record, here's Colorado, with Nils Lofgren on guitar replacing Frank Sampedro. Lofgren had played with Young somewhere in the early to mid 70s and in the last decades first replaced Steve van Zandt in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and now plays with Van Zandt there as well.

So a new Crazy Horse album. That makes my ears expectantly attuned to epic guitar songs with Young going at it for minutes on end. So I am totally surprised the album opens with an acoustic country ditty called 'Think Of Me'. The kind of song Neil Young has written dozens of in his career, yet never fails to touch me some how.

The electric guitars open up on 'She Showed Me Love', a 13 and a half minute guitar exercise. That typical dark sound Neil Young can conjure from his gear. Live you can see him pushing in one stomp pedal after the other to finally arrive at his signature sound. Of course 'She Showed Me Love' is a boring affair looked at from great height and indifferent to who Neil Young is. Who dares to repeat that single title sentence over and over a hundred times and in the meantime just producing a few guitar notes while the band plods onwards? Neil Young does and somehow never bores me, where all other artists or bands most likely would. This is who Neil Young is, also.

Another side is Neil Young's voice. Truckloads of people start yelling bloody murder within the first few seconds he opens his mouth. Take 'Olden Days'. In a delicate song where Young and Lofgren play beautiful guitar melodies off each other, the singer goes in search of the highest notes his career-worn voice can muster. A smart move? Not if this were the start of his career. At 74 Neil Young is not afraid to show some frailty. Slowly moving into the winter of his career, he stands his ground. Firmly, I can even add.

As I have already written in all reviews I wrote on the man on this blog and there are some and then a few, I have stopped buying his records a long time ago. I have enough Neil Young records in my house to last me a lifetime and still, nearly all albums I've reviewed are better than I ever expected. When I stopped buying them they were not (so) good as these albums are. Take 'Help Me Lose My Mind' on this album. Again an elementary song with the two guitarist playing while Ralph Molina and Billy Talbot create lots of noise in the background. The song is as ramshackle as they come, dark and murky, perhaps even unfinished to some ears, yet it works, completely.

When all is said and done Colorado is a repeating exercise. Neil Young and Crazy Horse have made albums like Colorado before, some even much better and there certainly is no 'Like A Hurricane' on the album. But then I hear the delicate and frail 'Green To Blue' and I can't help being impressed. If pressed I would trade almost all my 80s Neil Young albums for this one. It is so much better than 'Trans' or 'Old Ways'.

Neil Young is many things in his career and successful at these different sides. One of these sides is that he is a master of the mid-tempo rock song. Those dark, slow rockers, where his voice and murky guitar sounds come forward in a great way. Colorado is such an album, with a few surprises on both edges of the album. So once again I arrive to the conclusion Neil Young remains in great form and is growing old extremely gracefully with all the rugged edges that come with that grace.


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woensdag 6 november 2019

Eggs & Marrowbone. The Bullfight

Having been away for a few days, a package was delivered at the neighbours. Knowing what was in it, it was already exciting to unpack it. From it came an LP, a cd and a book. The murder project by Rotterdam band The Bullfight, who debuted on these pages with its previous album 'Whisper In The Dark For Me'.

An LP, so I put it on immediately on the LP required speed of 33 RPM. My girlfriend and I were captured immediately by the immense beauty of it all. But in the second song the singing was totally off. For one song I could accept it as a special, dark effect of the dark theme of the album. In the third song, the second with this over slow, weird voice I started to get suspicious. The music was so extremely beautiful though that I was almost willing to accept the weird turn of voice.

As there also was a cd with the album, I decided to put that on as a test. And yes folks, this is an LP to be played on 45 RPM.

One thing did not changed, I remained totally impressed by the music of The Bullfight. Eggs & Marrowbone is an album of intense beauty. It has a mood of its own, which is just as well. The project is ambitious and this is reflected in the music and the artwork. As this is a blog on music I will, mostly, comment on that.

Musically Eggs & Marrowbone reminds me of Leiden band The Stream, through the singing and the concept of the whole. Where influences are concerned I tend to think in the direction of Tom Waits and Nick Cave. Yet it all stops there as well. Because of the soft violins that underscore most of the songs the album takes on its own guise. Soft drums, a bass guitar and a guitar or piano do the rest. Together the musicians produce intricate music, let's call it chamber pop, that begs and craves listening. The voice of singer Nick Verhoeven remains itself, i.e. slightly odd in sound and use. It has to do with his way of singing, affected and almost speaking more than singing, totally his own in other words. Those words are all on blood, guts, knifings and shootings. I'm playing and writing on an album on murder, remember.

Several people have helped The Bullfight out on Eggs & Marrowbone, the most famous being actress and singer Birgit Schuurman. The female voices mostly come out in the murder cover ballads. The jazzy tunes of old get a replay, recorded like it is 1930 and not 2019. It gives the album an attractive accent, something totally unexpected even. A fun element somehow adding to the authenticity of Eggs & Marrowbone. Yes, old-fashioned jazz can be heard here, horns and all, oh so lazy and Charleston style as well.

Why? Murder ballads are a thing from the past. Nowadays there are murder raps but murder ballads are no longer on the musical menu. That The Bullfight has taken that path, like e.g. Nick Cave did circa 20 years ago, is exceptional. That it decided to get involved in a whole project including a full book artwork, is even more ambitious. Musically the project has totally succeeded. To come back to the book, 'The Art of the Murder Ballad'. 100 Artists were asked to contribute to the theme "murder ballad" and did. It is a beautiful addition to the record and vice versa. As a whole it is pretty amazing. A project that was in the works for several years has come to a beautiful fruition.

For those deciding fast, The Bullfight plays three shows this weekend: http://www.thebullfight.nl/tour (and beyond). The original artwork from the book is on display at Donner in Rotterdam.


You can order Eggs & Marrowbone here:

info (at) brandyalexander (dot) nl

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dinsdag 5 november 2019

Kairos 109, 1 August 2019 on Concertzender

Despite the fact that Wo. is still running behind with his monthly Kairos updates, he let us know that he is not intending to give up on listening and writing about the past shows. The idea is to catch up over the coming months but as you'll have noticed there are so many records to write on. So for now let us turn to his endeavours while listening to the Kairos of the month August, the holiday month.

The familiar piano notes sound out and a piano takes over as if it belongs to the intro, leave that to .No to find that perfect moment to blend different compositions or songs. The two do not belong, of that I'm certain. Following the piano intro a voice comes in. A kind of depressing voice, singing without joy, without any lust for life. With no clue towards the future nor the present. Whoever Bas K. is, he knows how to write a song of this kind. The lyric is a dream as the singer is starting to wake up. Often a moment of vivid intense dreaming with the lucid side of the brain fighting to take over from the unconsciousness. Weaving in and out of each other. The song on the one hand is impressive on the other the lack of a producer is obvious. A great and surprising opening to this Kairos 'Waking Up' is. (And then I find this is a home recording by an 18 year old.)

With Sytze Pruiksma another bird enters the Kairos environment. The Bar tailed godwit to be precise. The composition is a busy one. As busy as the bird's song. The guitar is played in a way that makes me despair the 13 odd years I lost not playing the instrument sooner in life, yet fairly proud of where I managed to arrive at despite the loss of years and supple brains. Pruiksma manoeuvres his song on the brink of symphonic rock and rock itself without ever crossing lines as the instrumental piece, excluding the godwits, is a force in its own right.

The rest that descends over Kairos is enormous when 'Illuminare' by Chris James sets in. Music that is transparent. A keyboard, a voice singing "oooohhh"; James creates music to fall asleep to and I mean that in the positive sense. He creates a mood that leads to a meditative state, like the Gregorian chants were supposed to do in a the Middle Ages. 'Illuminare' immediately reminds me of religion or better of a church. Like Nick Cave's 'Ghosteen', this is modern religious music, without the religion. At least as far as I'm concerned. I can't speak for Chris James of course.

More busy synthesizer induced sounds move into the voices of Chris James, slowly but surely taking over completely. And then a lonely piano takes over everything. The kind that is played so slow, that, if I did not know better, I could have assumed the pianist forgot the other half or even more of his notes. Surprise, surprise, somewhere in Chris James' music, Jane Weaver was woven in as well. You tell me where 'Illuminare' ended and 'Margin' started. A .No mash up it seems.

The piano is Lorenzo Masotto playing 'You'. Ever so soft, yet melodic. Slow, drawn out, using every bit of air and atmosphere in the recording studio to reverberate his notes. To great success. 'You' is extremely beautiful music. I notice I've stopped typing and just listened.

And then listen to how the violins come in. No, the music can't be successfully remain blended, the first notes though go all out together with the piano of Masotto. It is an aria on violin. If this is sung then I'm out of the room within seconds. On violin, yes, violin folks, the melody moves me. I'm in the right late night mood I notice. Bas K. returns for a short bit over the violin and it fits beautifully for a few seconds.

The next contribution is piano led again. It is a fragment of 'Spirit Of Love' by Colin Bates and Edwin van der Hoeven. Darker, melancholic yet again I notice it touches me. .No has brought me in the right mood, while at the same time I'm tired. It is late at night and I notice that I am not going to finish writing about this Kairos tonight. That is a first, I can assure you. Is that a harp joining the piano? The sound is so high, it must be.

Dark sounding violins join in. Ernst Reijseger shows a very serious side of himself. An accordion joins in, as does a voice. A voice like a confused man, shouting at people on the street, but to be sure always at those on the other side, not his own. A dark, worn voice, that has seen better days. Light is nowhere to be seen. As a whole this Kairos is dark so far. What to make of Reiseger's music? It would not take much change and I would have instantly liked it. Now I'm struggling with the rough side of it. Yet I hear the pearl thrown before the swine in the whole. This is no average composition. It holds the whole world within it somehow.

And so the third Modern Studies album made it to WoNoBlog after all. The cooperation with Tommy Perman did not make it past my ears. Where had the folk gone to?, I kept wondering. What I am hearing contains a little of the folk I remember from the two albums I did review in the past two years. What I am hearing right now is Kairos music. Layers of instruments stacked on top of each other, creating a string of moods but never a song in the traditional sense. Something that causes me a hard time. At the same time I do start to notice when I like what I hear or just the strangeness that invades my ears, especially when I first started to write about Kairos. No, I will not return to Modern Studies and Tommy Perlman's Emergent Slow Acts', but for here it is more than o.k.

The move into Trio Ramberget's 'November' is impressive. As time moves into November tomorrow the title is unexpectedly appropriate. The music reminds me of classical music where it isn't for sure. Analysing it the feeling is caused by the sound of the trumpet. My feelings take me on the wave of sound in the background and foreground. A current of noise, like a tapeloop of a female voice singing aaahhh. It drops away, revealing near emptiness, where sounds hover ever so quietly, before the horn is allowed to emerge from it. Softly, but surely. Despite sleeping a night and working during most of the day, I am back into the mood of this Kairos instantly. How come I am moved by a piece that I would usually degrade as non-music? Moved and impressed. Don't ask me why but I am remembered of Sophie Hunger's music. Perhaps not so strange as she features regularly on this program.

.No presents longer pieces of music in the second half of the program. 'November' moves into 'Demain C’était Hier'. A leaden piano starts off the song, violins join the piano soon for an extremely sad song. The kind that will make people want to cry and played under the right circumstance will. I'd never expected to write to have found musical heaven while listening to Kairos but it seems I have and with a violin. Les Fragments de la Nuit play a beautiful piece of music here.

When the mood is disturbed, it is not Les Fragments de la Nuit killing its own composition, but Chris James who returns with another fragment from his album 'Alchemy', 'Aion'. Again I'm, in all but body, back in church, yet this composition is far stranger then 'Illuminate'. James is experimenting with his voice and from there sees where the digital world can take his voice. This leads to a stack of long held vocal notes, longer than anyone has breath within him or her. The fragment lasts for 12 minutes. The illusion is broken after circa five. The atmosphere remains the same but far too long to keep up the intimacy the composition started off with. Slowly but surely the impression rises in my mind I am listening to monks on something else than beer and cheese, which is sort of funny, isn't it? The image brings a smile to my face.

Kairos ends with another private recording, Tibulibena plays 'Endless' from the same titled single. Yes, singles are still being released, except you can't buy them any more, at least physically, with a few noticeable exception and they are on vinyl for € 15 a piece. The same as cds tend to cost roughly. Again a beautiful piano sets in, playing slow notes. A few on the dark side, at times a few more on the high end. Together they create a mix sounding like a grandparent together with a grandchild, e.g. at the zoo. The ageing sibling with the bouncing youth. Together they are a lovely sight, enjoying each other's company. The elder sets the pace as the youth has been instructed to do by its elders. Yet, it is a high note that sends this Kairos off. The future has it, as it should. This being the day John Bercow retires as Mr. Speaker allow me to add "the future has it. Order!".


You can listen to Kairos here on Concertzender:


This is the tracklist of August 2019:

00:12                  Bas K. Waking up. Private recording Bas K.
03:25                  Sytze Pruiksma. Bar tailed godwit.
Album ‘The sound and science of bird migration. Self-released (sytzepruiksma.com).
07:16                  Chris James. Illuminare (fragment).
Album ‘Alchemy’. Sounds Wonderful
12:40                  Jane Weaver. Margins.
Album ‘Loops in the Secret Society’. Fire records.
13:26                  Lorenzo Masotto. You. Album ‘Frames’. Lady Blunt Records.
18:46                  Gnattali. Aria (from the Suite Antiga). Luis Rabello, piano; Floor Braam, violin.
Challenge Classics CC72805.
19:54                  Bas K. Waking up (fragment). Private recording Bas K.
20:55                  Colin Bates & Edwin van der Hoeven. Spirit of love (fragment).
Album ‘Spirit of love’. LeaveForMorMusic.
24:02                  Ernst Reijsiger. Still life /Leaving Your Earthly Possessions. Ernst Reijseger Ensemble.
Album ‘My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, sounds from the motion picture. Winter & Winter 910 169-2.
30:58                  Modern Studies & Tommy Perman. Sunup Shutdown.
Album ‘Emergent Slow Acts. Fire Records.
33:36                  Trio Ramberget. November (fragment). Self-released.
41:55                  Les fragments de la nuit. Demain C’était hier.
Album ‘Demain C’était hier’. Equilibrium Music EQM028.
43:58                  Chris James. Aion (fragment). Album ‘Alchemy’. Sounds Wonderful
56:43                  Tibulibena. Endless. Single ‘Endless’. Private recording Tibulibena.

maandag 4 november 2019

Let's shine a light on Manfred Mann

There's a whole stack of MP3 album collection cds in my home, with hundreds of not thousands of hardly or never played records on them. Let's say that the source in part is disreputable, but at the time the day my government stated that is was legal to download, so I did for a few years and stopped when that interpretation of law was revoked. Downloading didn't stop me from buying records. I even bought several albums I never would have otherwise.

All these unplayed digital records. I decided a while back to start playing these cds in the car and see what comes by. One of those cds opened with music that sounded faintly familiar, not known. After I stopped, I had the opportunity to check what I was hearing and it turned out to be '2006', a solo album by Manfred Mann from 2004. I know the band still existed, as I see them come by on live adds every few years. The music even sounded quite o.k.

When did I stop listening to Manfred Mann's Earth Band? Probably in the first half of the 80s. 'Watch' may be my last album. I would have to check.

It brought me into thinking what a fairly strange career Manfred Mann has had. Born in 1940 in Johannesburg in South Africa as Manfred Lubowitz, he turned 79 in October. In the early 60s he started the band Manfred Mann. The first noticeable thing is that the band is named after Mann, while he is not the singer, nor does he write the songs. Yet all his bands carry his name. It's not unique, as Spencer Davies was around as well, but who has heard anything from him since 1967?

Coming from the same London rhythm & blues scene as most London based bands from the early 60s, the band started scoring hits with lightweight pop songs like 'Doo Wah Diddy' and 'Pretty Flamingo'. In the second half of the 60s the songs became more serious and the band discovered Bob Dylan's treasure trove of the Basement Tapes, then songs on offer for covering. The NL 1967 number one hit 'Ha! Ha! Said The Clown' was the band's biggest hit over here, but 1968s 'Mighty Quinn' scored big as well. There were a few more minor hits and that was the end of Manfred Mann.

Looking back over 50 years 'Ha! Ha! Said The Clown' was a strange hit in those days where hippies and psychedelia ruled. On the other hand it stands out as the music sets it totally apart from other bands and hits of the day. Being very small at the time I remember thinking that "Said" was the name of the clown and the slight feeling of disappointment when I found out what "said" means. 'Mighty Quinn' is one of my first 45s. I can't remember when and where I bought it, but it must have been a discount somewhere in the earliest 70s.

In the mid 70s Manfred Manns Earth Band surfaced as a minor but regular hit machine. Most noticeably with Bruce Springsteen songs, 'Blinded By The Light' and 'Spirits In The Night'. My favourite remains 'Davy's On The Road Again' and its b-side 'Bouillabaisse'. The albums coming with them all found there way into my home in the early 80s. The hits ended with 'Lies (All Through The 80s)' in 1980. Like my interest in the band stopped with the album 'Chance'.

Currently I am happy hearing one of the singles on the radio every once in a while. I bought a compilation album of the second Manfred Mann iteration circa 15 years, so with Mike d'Abo as singer, replacing Paul Jones, but I have to say the music of the band not truly stood the test of time. It is dated and in part fine as a memory but not more. I won't even go into the first singles of the band. Teenybopper music at best. The more symphonic Earth Band fairs better here. Coincidentally 'Blinded By The Light' came by on the radio today and it holds its ground easily. There's so much power in the song mixed with a little mystery. The song stands out in between what is considered pop music today. The same goes for the already mentioned 'Davy's On The Road Again', arguably the band's best song.

It is the change in music Manfred Mann made that makes his career remarkable. Not many artists go through such profound changes. Mann and his, ever changing, bandmates did. The prolific output of albums in the 60s and 70s was standard those days, only matched by the likes of Ty Segall today. The difference is Manfred Mann('s Earth Band) was a semi-top band in the 60s to early 80s, where Segall is active in the margins of rock music.

So come '2006'. After some googling, it proves to be his second solo album. As I said, I knew nothing of the album, except that the music sounded sort of familiar and was appealing enough to wonder who this is. (I often have no clue at all when playing these self-burned cds.) So if you once were a fan of Manfred Mann and have lost sight of his career, like I have, checking out '2006' can be worth your while. A lot of the music can be called progrock and yes, is dated in sound. Yet, the album has an urgency that surprises me in part. The progrock part may have been done before, Mann is not afraid to experiment as well. The result is a mix bunch of songs of which some are remarkably strong, just like I would expect from an artist who always found his rightful place in the semi-top of pop and symphonic rock of his day. Steadily plodding on, never disappointing. The opening song 'Demons and Dragons' pulled me into '2006' immediately and the rest does not let go. Exactly what music on an album should do.


You can listen to and buy 2006 and other music of the band here:


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zondag 3 november 2019

Black Pumas. Black Pumas

Austin, Texas, lijkt de nieuwe hoofdstad van de soulmuziek, want na het geweldige Los Coast is hier nu het minstens even goede Black Pumas met een geweldige soulplaat.

Natuurlijk doet soulmuziek het uitstekend bij zomerse temperaturen, maar je hebt soulmuziek en soulmuziek. De spannendste soulmuziek van het moment wordt gemaakt in Austin, Texas. Net als stadgenoten Los Coast, dat recentelijk debuteerde, slaat ook Black Pumas een brug tussen verleden en heden en verrijkt het een broeierig en authentiek klinkend soulgeluid met invloeden uit flink wat omliggende genres. In muzikaal opzicht klinkt het allemaal prachtig en ook de zang op het debuut van Black Pumas is van een hoog niveau. Het levert een debuutalbum op dat bijzonder aangenaam vermaakt, maar dat je ook keer op keer weet te verrassen. 

Deze zomer besprak ik het album van de uit Austin, Texas, afkomstige band Los Coast. Op haar debuut ging Los Coast aan de haal met flink wat invloeden uit de vintage soul, maar sloeg het ook haar vleugels uit richting omliggende genres, wat een bijzonder aantrekkelijk maar ook avontuurlijk en spannend soulgeluid opleverde.
Het zijn woorden die ook van toepassing zijn op het titelloze debuut van de band Black Pumas. Black Pumas vist in vrijwel dezelfde vijver als Los Coast en is ook nog eens afkomstig uit dezelfde stad, de Texaanse muziekhoofdstad Austin.
Black Pumas bestaat uit producer en multi-instrumentalist Adrian Quesada en zanger en songwriter Eric Burton en beiden drukken op eigen wijze hun stempel op het debuut van Black Pumas.
Eric Burton doet dit met een soulstem die herinnert aan de groten uit het verleden, maar die ook aansluit bij de betere zangers binnen de neo-soul en R&B van het moment. Adrian Quesada heeft het geluid van Black Pumas op bijzonder aangename en subtiele wijze ingekleurd. De Texaanse muzikant en producer kent zijn klassiekers in de 60s en 70s soul, maar voorziet de muziek van zijn band ook van een aangename dosis psychedelica en een beetje jazz. Hiernaast slaat hij op knappe wijze een brug tussen soulmuziek uit het verleden en de neo-soul en R&B van het moment.
Het debuut van Black Pumas klinkt hierdoor even authentiek als eigentijds en overtuigt net wat makkelijker dan soulalbums die met beide benen in het verleden of in het heden staan. Het debuut van de Texaanse band is een album dat het uitstekend doet bij de zomerse temperaturen van het moment, maar het is ook een album dat veel knapper in elkaar steekt dan je zult vermoeden wanneer je het album alleen maar beluistert als zomers vermaak.
Zeker bij beluistering met de koptelefoon hoor je hoe mooi en veelkleurig het geluid op het album is en hoor je bovendien wat een geweldige zanger Eric Burton is. De mooi verzorgde en veelzijdige instrumentatie op het debuut van Black Pumas voorziet het album van een zwoel en laid-back geluid, maar het is ook een geluid waarin de bijzondere accenten elkaar in razendsnel tempo afwisselen.
Het is het broeierige soulgeluid dat we kennen uit het verleden, maar het is ook een verrassend mooi en subtiel geluid, waarin steeds weer andere instrumenten de aandacht opeisen en dat zowel elektrisch als akoestisch kan klinken. Het is een geluid dat bovendien prachtig kleurt bij de geweldige vocalen op het album, die continu soul ademen, maar die bovendien bijzonder fraai gedoseerd worden.
Er verschijnen dit jaar nogal wat goede soulalbums waardoor het lastig kiezen, maar net als het debuut van Los Coast is het debuut van Black Pumas een soulalbum dat er binnen het soul aanbod van het moment een flink stuk bovenuit steekt.

Erwin Zijleman

Je kunt Black Pumas hier beluisteren en kopen:


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