donderdag 24 mei 2018

The Two Worlds. Brigid Mae Power

In de nazomer van 2016 trok het titelloze debuut van de Ierse multi-instrumentalist en singer-songwriter Brigid Mae Power met name in het Verenigd Koninkrijk en in de Verenigde Staten de nodige aandacht.
 
Dat was volkomen terecht, want de plaat benevelde, betoverde en intrigeerde met muziek die begon bij de Laurel Canyon platen van Joni Mitchell en de psychedelica van Jefferson Airplane en eindigde bij de muziek van The Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil en zeker ook P.J. Harvey. (Lees die recensie hier: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2017/01/brigid-mae-power-brigid-mae-power.html)
 
De mix van 70s folk, 60s psychedelica en 80s 4AD zweverigheid had ook zeker Nederlandse muziekliefhebbers aan kunnen of zelfs moeten spreken, maar de plaat deed hier helaas weinig.
 
Ook de deze week verschenen tweede plaat van Brigid Mae Power duikt in Nederland vooralsnog niet op in de lijstjes met de belangrijkste releases van de week en dat is ook dit keer doodzonde. Ook op The Two Worlds creëert Brigid Mae Power immers weer een hele bijzondere sfeer en maakt ze indruk met songs die vergeleken met haar debuut nog flink wat emotie toevoegen.
 
Brigid Mae Power woonde enkele jaren in de Verenigde Staten en had daar een gewelddadige relatie die flinke krassen op haar ziel heeft achtergelaten. Inmiddels is Brigid Mae Power teruggekeerd naar het Ierse Galway, waar ze opgroeide, wat niet alleen de kans gaf om te reflecteren op de vervelende jaren die achter haar liggen, maar ook de nodige herinneringen aan haar jeugd naar boven brachten, wat de plaat een emotionele lading geeft.
 
The Two Worlds sluit aan op het zo verrassende debuut van de Ierse singer-songwriter, maar legt andere accenten. Invloeden uit de zweverige 80s muziek zijn dit keer minder nadrukkelijk aanwezig, waardoor de nadruk ligt op folk en psychedelica uit de jaren 60 en 70 en met name het werk van Joni Mitchell een belangrijke inspiratiebron is.
 
Vergeleken met het debuut klinkt The Two Worlds ook organischer. De door Peter Broderick geproduceerde en analoog opgenomen plaat kiest voor een akoestische basis waarin de akoestische gitaar en met name de piano een belangrijke rol spelen en waaraan vervolgens strijkers en subtiele elektronica zijn toegevoegd.
 
De songs op The Two Worlds zijn zoals gezegd geworteld in psychedelica en folk van een aantal decennia geleden, maar Brigid Mae Power verwerkt ook op knappe wijze invloeden uit de Keltische muziek in haar songs en heeft zich bovendien laten beïnvloeden door de platen van haar producer Peter Broderick.
 
Ik vond het debuut van de Ierse singer-songwriter al een hele bijzondere en knappe plaat, maar de songs op The Two Worlds zijn nog een stuk beter. The Two Worlds is een plaat die je in slaap sust en weer ruw wakker schudt, die betovert met wonderschone klanken maar ook pijn doet vanwege alle emotie en die de ruimte vult met sprookjesachtige klanken maar ook continu de fantasie prikkelt.
 
Zeker wanneer je het debuut van Brigid Mae Power niet kent is The Two Worlds een plaat die je even op je in moet laten werken, maar wanneer de plaat je eenmaal te pakken heeft is loslaten voorlopig geen optie. In Nederland krijgt de plaat vooralsnog weinig aandacht, maar dat moet echt gaan veranderen. Wat een prachtplaat.

Erwin Zijleman


Je kunt The Two Worlds hier beluisteren en kopen:

https://tompkinssquare.bandcamp.com/album/the-two-worlds


Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

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

woensdag 23 mei 2018

Golden Sounds. Garlands

Last year we wrote about Gordon Harrow's EP 'Indian Giver' (read on here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2017/06/indian-giver-ep-gordon-harrow.html). A year down the road he presents new work under the name Garlands.

I really liked 'Indian Giver', so I'm thrilled to learn there's new work. In a tweet I happened upon Gordon Harrow referred to a show of Canshaker Pi he supported recently and mentioning that this was no coincidence. Now Canshaker Pi is one of the most exciting young bands in The Netherlands that got treated to two rave reviews on this blog of which one very recently (read on here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2018/05/naughty-naughty-violence-canshaker-pi.html). Some great shoes to follow.

So how does Golden Sounds fare? The alternative rock jumps out of the title song. The golden sounds of San Francisco? Oh, yes, don't get me started. The U.K. has always produced my most favourite bands, but San Francisco also holds a special place, starting with Jefferson Airplane. Garlands' loud rock has not much to do with the über hippies of old though.

Golden Sounds rocks out from the very first seconds. Again many influences come by in a single song. I've mentioned enough of them in the past. The Posies is the one that sticks out most again. Like that band Garlands manages to rock out with a sound pop melody always in place.

In his singing Gordon Harrow produces a slight sneer, hinting perhaps that we should not take this all too seriously. Don't be fooled, this music is well worked out and tight. The little twists in 'Wake Up' show that the band wasn't satisfied with playing the song home in version one. No, experiments were put in there, reminding me, indeed, of Canshaker Pi.

After a song with an upbeat and different beat, Don't Do Me Wrong', the surprise of the EP follows: the final song, 'Bingo Drag Queen'. Where the previous songs all clock in under 3 minutes, 'Bingo Drag Queen' is drawn out and totally different in atmosphere, slower also. It is easily the price song of Golden Sounds. The dynamics are great, with an alternative sounding verse and a slow rocking, full strummed chorus. "Everything will be o.k.", Harrow sings. I believe him instantly. When songs like the four on Golden Sounds keep flowing from him, we are all bound to be.

That name though, Garlands? A first search, trying to find some more info on the band, brought me to a German female duo from Hamburg, a Swedish band called The Garlands and all sorts of garlands of course. With songs like these the Scottish Garlands will undoubtedly find its place in between everything mentioned here.

Wo.

Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

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

dinsdag 22 mei 2018

Jellephant and Poncho live. Sugar Factory Amsterdam, Thursday 17 May 2018

Photo Wo.
Following that extremely enjoyable album released by Jellephant, 'Skeletons', last week, I was able to attend the cd presentation show in Amsterdam. Together with a band called Poncho, also presenting a new release.

While listening to the album working towards my review (read on here: http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2018/05/skeletons-jellephant.html) I couldn't get my mind around what band the opening song reminded me of. Listening in the train to Amsterdam I knew it at the second note: The Dandy Warhols. Funny how thing can go. Mystery solved.

Arriving, I soon had the idea that I was attending a high school party, 40 years late. "Ah, there come the parents", I thought. Now Jellephant is from Arnhem, so the kids and parents must have come for Poncho. It wasn't hard picking out some of the members, the way they welcomed or were approached by all their friends. It was apparent Jellephant was not playing a home gig.

I simply have to own up that it is not easy to write something positive on Jellephant and the Phantoms. On the show and presentation that is. Not that they cannot play, not that they do not have the songs, not that they were playing badly. There's no beating around the bush on these pages. Jelle, you are the front man. You are Jellephant. So it does not do to put someone else in your place on stage. It does not do to stand in the dark for most of the time. It may feel safe, but it doesn't help the show, the feel and the conviction a band needs to take on nor to establish interaction with an audience. Especially one that is not yours in the first place and needs to be conquered, skin and bones. Neither does a microphone drenched in bathroom vibes, making it nearly impossible to understand what you are saying when you do address us. A second mike would help here.

Musically all was alright. I can still call up some of the licks I heard, in my mind easily. The three guitarists all played different parts on different ends of the guitar neck, creating a wealth of sound together. There was so much detail in the layered music Jellephant created this way. The music is fun, so much more so than what followed.

Photo: Wo.
I saw a crowd go wild on Poncho's music. Music that never touched me, personally. On the other hand I saw musicians communicating with their audience and making them wilder. Yes, they might have been playing to people from their schools, friends from the streets they live in, relatives and soccer mates, each and every one of them was made to feel special. And that is where successful bands start out. Poncho needs to get better and I am sure they know it themselves. Accidentally overhearing the intention to start playing as much as possible soon, I can only add smart move. If Poncho can address and attract other audiences the way they did this audience tonight, the question only is: where will it end?

Musically, I heard disco rhythms mixed with psychedelic sounds, punkrock creating moshpits at the end of the show, attempts at balladry sort of Indian Askin style and what not. It wasn't my kind of thing, yet it was a show. A show the audience really dug and the energy bounced right back and back again.

The shoegazing elements in Jellephant's music do not lend itself for such jollity, yet just a few small elements, now missing, could spark its show as well. There is something to learn here. From the basement to a stage is a giant leap at this point in time. You have the music, so use it to your advantage. A wave, a smile, a nod and "hello, how are you?", in light, may go a long way for starters. "For you, me, everybody, everybody", to quote the über showmeisters The Blues Brothers.

Wo.

You can listen to and buy Jellephant's albums here:

https://jellephant.bandcamp.com/

Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

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

maandag 21 mei 2018

NME to cease its weekly print edition. A conversation

Old news? Yes, but a no less interesting conversation started after disturbing news reached us on 7 March, when a U.K. musical magazine announced going out of print, upsetting the U.K. participants in this discussion. It started them reminiscing on the past, as things tend to go when we, including myself, reach a certain age. Not everything was better though, as you will find out.

Gary, 7-3 


Wo., 7-3
Yes, there's an end to everything. Kids are no longer interested in reading about music (or anything perhaps for most), only in games. Music is abundant and (near) free. Most are not interested in albums, just in songs by whoever, whatever. It seems they listen to music, but totally different from us. That is what the Internet has done.

The magazine I still read, 'Oor', has merged with another one years ago and since publishes only 10 issues a year, from 24, in which 10% of the pages are rehashes of older pieces used again to "celebrate" some reissue or other. And that is the best there is around these days.

Gary, 8-3
The Melody Maker was my personal favourite, but that went under in 2000! Of course the sad impact of closing such historic music papers and magazines is the loss of professional standards of journalism and interviewing…. I must admit I have never really been a fan of a lot of ‘muso’ journalists as they seem to want to cater for the populist view of the time and increase their chances of a job in on daily tabloid… however I do respect a lot of music journalists professionalism even if their views do not reflect mine. There are still some good print music magazines out there, the one I subscribe to is Prog magazine: http://teamrock.com/prog which has a wide and eclectic choice of music both old and new…

Mark, 9-3
It's the end of an ear (as Robert Wyatt would say). I started buying the NME in 1971 when we went decimal - I would hide them from my dad and stored them in piles in the attic in our old family home in Wales - maybe they are still there, crinkly yellowed relics of  rock culture at its peak. I also savaged them for my clippings collections - some of which have survived as inserts in album sleeves. Melody Maker and Sounds too - and occasionally the more pop-oriented Record Mirror and Disc which I think merged at one point so intense and ruthless was the competition for the pop fan's loose change.   Some issue s are now quite valuable depending who was on the cover and interviewed inside (check eBay). I've just seen a tweet from Billy Bragg saying his life's ambition was to tour America and get on the cover of the NME. 

And then Q magazine came along in the mid-1980 and things started going from inky weekly to glossy monthly: death knell for Sounds and even the once august jobbing musician's bible, the Melody Maker, fell by the wayside. And now NME is no more, not even as a flimsy freebie that it eventually, sadly became with its ads for techy watches, BMWs and trendy trainers. Bring back the mailbox ads for loons and the agit-prop editorials I say! I'll miss its precious place though on my Thursday rush hour ritual, thrust into my hand on the forecourt at Victoria Station for me to scan for any possible morsel of musical interest during the two stop Tube ride to Westminster.  

I should wrap up though by saying - as the UK's Head of International Online Policy -   it's still online, you old fogey!  http://www.nme.com  Hmmmm.....end of an era nonetheless.

Jeff, 9-3
Hi and apologies for not joining this stream of conciousness earlier!

I am afraid that this is not surprising, print media like magazines is dieing before our eyes. Real world Books still thrive, which is good as I am not a fan of ereaders for I think snobby reasons. eg having loads of books around the house is classy!

NME has been hopelessly out of touch for ages, musically. Hip hop etc passed it by and stuck to white guys with guitars. But it did have some relevance once  and when it was free, was not a bad short and sweet read - see Guardian leader today:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/08/guardian-view-demise-of-nme-end-of-era-predictable-editorial and another Guardian article that is not so complementary: 

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/mar/07/farewell-to-nme-rocknroll-riot-that-petered-into-silence 

Now I have a confession, I was a Record Mirror reader! It was much more pop and more importantly it had a guy that covered the soul scene, incl reviewing the latest US imports, which was a big thing back in the day. I was also a fan of blues and soul (http://www.bluesandsoul.com/). But have not bought it in ages.

I am afraid that this is another sign of the times that provides us sad old gents (Wout - not you!) with an opportunity to do our best impressions of statler and waldorf from the muppets!

Gary - lets have another hangout and yes we need to go for a beer as soon as!

Sorry for the negativity!

Gary, 9-3
Not at all Jeff!

I for one thought that all the music papers lost credibility from the mid-70s onwards, maybe because they weren't writing as fairly and subjectively as I would have liked…. Or maybe I was just missing their point? I think that the real issue for me is that I listen to music, in the same sense that most musicians listen to music and not only for the genre style, political stance and fashion statement that goes with it: Which I recognise is what most people are attracted to. Of course this is a sweeping statement, but on the whole I think this is true. I know for example you listen to Jazz like Miles Davis and Thelonious ‘Sphere’ Monk (love his middle name!) which isn’t exactly ‘easy listening’, I think that gives you credentials to say you are not swayed by mere fashion?

Unfortunately, a lot of music journalists profile mark their ‘populist’ leanings because that is what the majority of readers want, and they are looking at the next stage of their career working on a tabloid…. that in my view led to the ‘dumbing down’ of music journalism; reporting on a performers dress sense and choice of girlfriend/boyfriend rather than the ‘music’ the artists make/write/perform. This is why I believe we are now in the age of the celebrity vocalist, music mogul and novelty ’talent competitions' rather than the high visibility of true musicians pre-1980s…. 

Now I have unfurled my ‘Old Fart Nation’ flag and saluted it American Dad style, but even if you or others do not agree with me, ask yourself the question, why are todays talented musicians (I mean non-vocalist) ignored in the mainstream music industry? Are they now irrelevant or unworthy of attention? Is playing a musical instrument or writing a music a worthless exercise? Is playing a musical instrument or writing music to a very high standard deserved to be sneered at or demeaned? Maybe its just another symptom of the prevalent populist, anti-expert society we now live in, maybe I am just getting to be a twisted, bitter old man that refuses to let go of the (precious to me) concept that real music means something other than a vocalist that has a great body shape, dress style, million+ snapchat, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter Numpty, Facebook followers?

Ah!... glad I got that off my chest… feel better for that rant!

Yes, please do send me a hangout invite for when you are available and let's meet-up in London for a beer (well just a sip for me!)?

Have a great weekend!

Wo., 9-3
Yes, I'm quite happy hanging on to my 50s, Jeff 😁.

Let me ask you all a question, just from curiosity. In the "serious" music press, like my Oor Magazine, journalists reviewed UK bands with a lot of disdain in the 90s and 00s. "Here is the next hyped up band, that will probably will be next month tossed out ex-candy of the week". Several of these bands I quite liked actually. Oasis, Supergrass, Silver Sun, The Rifles, even Blur 50% of the time. The Rifles even opened its first album with a song about the importance of the press and charting. What was your take on it, being able to look from the inside? Was it this bad? Several of these bands actually made it and were totally embraced later. Others we, indeed, never heard from again, but that is just the nature of music. Artists come and go and the exceptions remain sort of forever.

BTW, I am listening to one of those hyped bands of 2005 right now. I think I rather like Editors' new album 'Violence'. The right mix of a lot of modern (beats, sequencers) and older things (rock, dark new wave). Not its first albums though that reminded me too much of Joy Division.

Wo., 21-5
So one question remains unanswered. What happened with that beer?

Gary
Jeff
Mark
Wo. 

zondag 20 mei 2018

Rooms / Ruins. Flying Horsemen

De Belgische band Flying Horseman maakte de afgelopen jaren al een aantal zeer goed ontvangen of zelfs bejubelde platen, maar desondanks is het deze week verschenen Rooms / Ruins pas mijn eerste kennismaking met de muziek van de band uit Antwerpen.

Het is een kennismaking die ik niet snel zal vergeten, want wat is het eerder deze week verschenen Rooms / Ruins een indrukwekkende en bijzondere plaat.

De Belgische band neemt je op haar nieuwe plaat 65 minuten lang mee naar desolate en voornamelijk aardedonkere oorden.

Flying Horseman maakt muziek die het daglicht maar moeilijk kan verdragen en het is muziek die zich vaak langzaam voortsleept. In de stemmige openingstrack hoor ik flarden Tindersticks, Japan en het vroege Roxy Music en worden beeldende klanken gecombineerd met stemmige vocalen.

In de tweede track kiest Flying Horseman voor het eerst nadrukkelijk het experiment en smeedt het op knappe wijze invloeden uit de Afrikaanse muziek, de minimal music, de Krautrock en de ambient aan elkaar. Het levert muziek op die hier en daar raakt aan de invloedrijke platen van Peter Gabriel uit de jaren 80 of aan de platen van Talking Heads uit de late jaren 70, maar Flying Horseman laat ook een duidelijk eigen geluid horen, dat zich vanuit het niets ook kan laten beïnvloeden door Kraftwerk of King Crimson (Robert Fripp is sowieso een naam die genoemd moet worden).

Het is een eigen geluid dat het experiment zeker niet schuwt en dat razend knap in elkaar steekt, maar Flying Horseman slaagt er ook in om het experiment te combineren met stemmige popsongs die vrij makkelijk overtuigen en die zich steeds genadelozer opdringen.

Het zijn popsongs die heel veel kracht ontlenen aan de bijzondere sfeer die de band uit Antwerpen op Rooms / Ruins creëert. Het is een sfeer die refereert aan de nacht en aan vooral desolate oorden en het is een sfeer die een wat vervreemdende of zelfs beklemmende uitwerking heeft op de luisteraar.

Het maakt van beluistering van Rooms / Ruins een bijzondere en ook bijzonder intense luisterervaring. Zeker bij beluistering met volledige aandacht hoor je hoe verschrikkelijk veel er gebeurt in de bijzondere muziek van de band uit Antwerpen. De gitaarlijnen zijn van een enorme schoonheid, de synths zetten je steeds op het verkeerde spoor, terwijl de vrouwenstemmen op de achtergrond je er steeds weer bij slepen.

Flying Horseman put hierbij nadrukkelijk uit de archieven van de popmuziek, maar smeedt ook op fascinerende wijze tot dusver niet gecombineerde invloeden aan elkaar. Ik heb al een hoop namen genoemd in deze recensie, maar hoe vaker ik naar Rooms / Ruins luister hoe meer ik hoor. Flarden Portishead, American Music Club, Nick Cave, Brian Eno en zo kan ik lang doorgaan. Het knappe is dat Flying Horseman op hetzelfde moment muziek maakt die zijn gelijke niet kent.

Rooms/Ruins schiet van vol, experimenteel en eclectisch naar uiterst sober en stemmig en weer terug en blijft maar imponeren met songs van een wonderbaarlijke schoonheid en intimiteit. Ik heb nog steeds moeite om de muziek van de Belgische band volledig te duiden, maar dat de nieuwe plaat van de band er een van een uitzonderlijk hoog niveau is weet ik inmiddels zeker.

Rooms/Ruins van Flying Horseman zal misschien niet iedereen bevallen, maar iedereen zou op zijn minst even moeten luisteren. Het heeft mij een plaat opgeleverd die me nu al dagen nieuwe dingen laat horen en die steeds meer indruk maakt.

Erwin Zijleman


Here's the link to our Spotify Playlist to find out what we are writing about:

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