donderdag 1 april 2021

WoNoBlog's singles roundup 2020/13

Weeks come and go, singles released are there forever, perhaps. Certainly for a long time as I have some singles in my collection that are older than I am. This week we present another nice and diverse set for you. From Amsterdam to Liverpool and from country & western to punkrock. You will hear it all come by if you click on the link below. There's even a European Songcontest song in here. So what more could you wish for?

Panic From Dublin. Queen's Pleasure

A 7" single EP released by Excelsior Recordings by a band from Amsterdam. You could have fooled me here, as I'd have believed it no questions asked if the EP had been presented to me as one by a third or fourth generation Britpop band hyped up big in the U.K. But no, Panic From Dublin really is sung and played by a Dutch band called Queen's Pleasure. Four songs that rock out as if there's no tomorrow and no curfew, lockdown and what have you these days. The opening song, 'Alex Sender' has the sound of a caged tiger looking for the slightest chance to escape, with the slow interludes as the getting ready for the big jump. With a few and nice traces of Arctic Monkeys. Queen's Pleasure jumps over as well, as it lets 'Alex Sender' explode completely towards the end. And this is just the opening song. There are three more that all show the combination of enthusiasm, musicality and quality. Every next song appears better than the previous one. That spells a great EP to me. Here's another Dutch band that is able to go with the best of them. It's been a while since I heard a Britpop band this good. We better claim the name Nethpop before someone else does.

Bank Of Love. Cronin

The intro to Bank Of Love is a bit confusing. First because it reminds me of the intro to another song and next because it doesn't truly match the song that follows. That is about the only critique the song gets from me. All that follows brings together a few extremely pleasant memories in pop and rock. Some Nick Cave crooning, a short Scott Walker imitation while singing of crying on the night Walker died, some Bowie harmonies from the 70s, an overall great pop feel from long ago and U.K. bands from the 90s. Include all these elements into one song and an artist would really have to try hard to fail in producing a bad song. Cronin doesn't. The Irish band presents its first new single since a few years and makes it a modest feast. Just listen to that guitar intro after the intro build up and a pop fan like me is sold. "A love song to do the dishes to", is how Cronin describes the song. Sorry, mate, we've got a dishwasher, but I do get the picture.

Thirsty. Desert Hollow

Some people following this blog may not really believe what I'm writing next but I'm not a fan of country music. This is an impression that remains with me following my exposure to Tammy Wynette and such as a teenager. In the years that passed, things have got more nuanced and that is what you often read about. Thirsty is on the edge of the divide. The sounds are traditional, the instruments true country. It is easy to explain the reason why I'm writing though. Thirsty is such a joyful song, so upbeat and about drinking to. Always nice to do, but luckily unlike the protagonist in the lyrics I'm filled at some point and happy to live without a drink for most of the time. The solo is simply great fun and has a Celtic flavour. In her singing Nicole Olney sounds a little like my favourite country singer Karen Jonas, so what more could I ask? All together I'm musically filled. One thing is left. It's late Friday afternoon. Time for that drink to come along, folks!

Come Back When There's Nothing Left EP. Nick Hudson

Nick Hudson presents a three song EP to the world, announcing his upcoming album 'Font Of Human Fractures'. After the exuberance of 'Thirsty' just now, listening to the opening song 'Voyeurs Who Offer Nothing' is a sobering affair. Nick Hudson, who is a part of The Academy Of Sun, presents songs that are essential, if not to write bare, but adds loads of atmospherics. Like sounds that sound like sounds that are not there. A ghostlike quality is added to the songs, determining the mood. The EP is so serious, but also almost in a way that I get the impression of having to look over my shoulder for the whole of the time, uncertainly what could happen behind me. The title song, with Toby Driver, adds samples of screams, adding to that feeling I already had with 'Voyeurs Who Offer Nothing'. The mood is somewhat lifted with Hudson's cover of Oingo Boingo's 'Not My Slave'. Still sober and serious but no longer scary. The song is more like an ode to the late Scott Walker. Just piano and voices harmonising winding around each other. 'Not My Slave' is a beautiful song.

E Y E. The Puzzle Is Cast

Greek, Athens based duo Sotiris Debonos and Christos Alexopoulos release another monthly song working toward that new album. By now I know that I may have to brace for everything, as the music of The Puzzle Is Cast is not only experimental but at times also esoteric. Influences can come from anywhere. The opening of E Y E brings memories of the Morse code signs that could be heard in the songs broadcasted from the pirate radio station Veronica laying off the Dutch coast and sharing all the latest hits with the youth of the country. For that the sound opening the song is too monotonous, it's just in the sound itself. E Y E is the kind of music to play in a meditation session based on music. The music slowly meanders through my brain, settling there, soothing it. The bleeps keep me in the present just enough. The harsher parts reminding me that it's not all sunshine and roses in this life. Within four minutes E Y E shows several facets of life and enough time to contemplate on them.

The Wrong Place. Hooverphonic

Hooverphonic is around for over two decades and has hooked up with singer Geike Arnaert again. If I heard correctly The Wrong Place is the submission of Belgium for the Eurovision Songcontest 2021. Not that I look at it anymore, that was the 1970s, when there was not much more to chose from on tv. What I do I see coming by, is all up tempo beats and stuff of dubious quality. The Wrong Place is different. This is a dark song, underscoring the title. Not just a wrong place but truly bad for you as well. At the same time underneath that mood is a nice pulsing rhythm on a muted guitar, a slow electronic rhythm and Chris Isaak inspired slow, long played guitar chords. Adding this all up The Wrong Place is a song that will never make it to the top of the contest. I would be very pleasantly surprised if it did. What it is, is a song that in its own way stands out. Should I conger up that old term triphop? Perhaps not douze points but huit for certain.

Last King Of Hell. Cult of Dom Keller

Cult of Dom Keller. Who or what is Dom Keller and why a cult? A Dom Keller tranlates into cathedral's basement. I do not know a Dom Keller. Last King Of Hell implies darkness and death metal. There I was pleasantly surprised. Not that Last King Of Hell is a nice ballad, of course not. What makes me like the song, is the mix of rock, metal and psychedelia. It all comes together in the almost seven minutes this single lasts. It would have been stronger had it been edited to a single mix after four minute something, but okay, I can live with it. The intro is much emptier. A nice old-fashioned sounding organ sets part of the mood. Slowly more and more is added over the groove and organ. The drummer is claiming a more prominent place with his loud accents, adding a little chaos to the whole. The atmospherics add a little eeriness to the whole. Nothing remains undistorted. The result is mystery, as any cult (in the modern era) needs.

Gazebo EP. Personal Trainer

Willem Smit is into his third band. After having been to the last show of Canshaker Pi in the weekend before the lockdown in 2020, it was waiting for the next step in his career. Personal Trainer is more a collective than a band, with members playing in other bands as well and coming and joining what a song or a show needs. With Paleo Superspeed Donkey and Canshaker Pi behind him the expectations on my end are quite high. I can be quite short. Gazebo as a whole does not deliver. I do not like all five songs as much. Having that of my chest, the opening song, 'Fiddlesong', is so nice. Personal Trainer finds the right mix between alternative and pop that makes singing along almost obligatory in my book. In the other four songs different styles are explored. 'Politics' could be a Balthazar song for example. The groove the bass and drums keep up are quite nice actually. In the singing several melodies come together and this works well too. The erratic 'Crops' sounds instantly recognisable. Nervous, edgy but with that golden and honest melody, making me want to jump along.

So having listened once more to the whole EP, I may have to review my review. Willem Smit is trying things out, experimenting with parts of his sound and diversifying a little. My mind has to bend a little with him. I notice it bending already. It looks like things will be fine with Gazebo and me after all.

State Trooper. King Hannah

"Well, I walked in to the party", I felt like singing, hearing the intro to State Trooper. The song could not move more into another direction. King Hannah creates this dark mood, all empty. Hannah Merrick's voice makes the first parts of the song and not much else. In the second verse more instruments are added, only to underscore the dark mood. King Hannah is a duo from Liverpool (in the U.K., I suppose) having released its first EP in 2020, 'Tell Me Your Mind And I'll Tell You Mine'. Of course nothing else much was able to happen since. After announcing tour dates for later this year, the duo released a single. Bruce Springsteen fans may recognise the song, but I'm not a fan. Far from even. The cover is impressive though. The rough guitar solo detonates with the soft but detached voice of the singer. State Trooper reminds where the atmosphere is concerned of two other bands. Austrian Cari Cari and Dutch Donna Blue. Both work just as excellent with the sound of the female singer and the mystery and reverb and echo behind her. I'm not familiar with the EP mentioned above, but it may be the right time to start doing so.

Nowhere Generation. Rise Against

From incredibly atmospheric music to allout punkrock is but a small step in WoNoBlog's weekly singles roundup. Rise Against is a punk band that is around for quite some years. Musically that may show as this is clearly not the music that is cranked out by that youthful exuberance called teenage angst and anger. The chords and the arrangement are carefully worked out. The lyrics also reflects experience. This is not a nowhere generation of pubescent despair and frustration. No, this is about a nowhere generation that has lived and sees that life is not going as it expected. The sign of the 2020s times. Home evictions, work that doesn't pay up anymore, unwanted people and "language you don't know" can also be very literal in the U.S. these days. The lyrics are all nice to know, but this blog is about the music when all is said and written. Melodically Nowhere Generation is very much alright. One listening session makes me sing "We are the nowhere generation" in my head over and over. All the signs of a great song. Also because it's not just angry, but because it is insightfully mixed with anger and some resignment. Rise Against has released a great punkrock anthem.

Wout de Natris

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