dinsdag 20 maart 2018

Massabu Evening Entertainment. Todd Tobias and Combo Qasam

Deep down in the dark forests of Africa there is a party going on. Under the evergreens, tall, dark, filled with huge green leaves, the shouts of monkeys come from the trees while below between the adobe and thatch huts a huge fire is built, around which the tribe members dance in wild abandon. Working itself into a trance, spurred on by the musicians hitting everything that can be hit upon to produce a rhythm. Wild shouting from the ground is reproduced from the trees by monkeys and birds kept from their sleep.

Enter Todd Tobias and Combo Qassam. Hearing is believing what is happening on Massabu Evening Entertainment. (Instrumental) rock music is played with wild abandon, aimed pure at the dance instincts of humans and nothing else. Here and there a link with the exotic is laid, underscoring the imaginary village called Massabu where this music is supposed to be produced by Tobias and some friendly musicians.

Todd Tobias enters the music scene in the wake of Robbert Pollard of Guided By Voices in another band called Circus Devils. He plays on several latter GBV albums and several solo outings of Pollard, while releasing records with other acts as well. Involvement in and/or on 8 or 9 albums a year is no exception for Tobias. Not counting the 8 solo EPs or LPs he released between 2012 and 2016. A very busy musical man, since he entered the professional music scene around his 34th birthday. A full late bloomer it seems.

Come 2018 and I am exposed for the first time to Todd Tobias through Tiny Room Records that releases Massubu Evening Entertainment. In a way it is a very weird album. The story is weird, the music, slightly weird at times, the shouts are strange. And yet, after having played the record several times, I can only say that Todd Tobias has hit the big time some how. In a mix between Frank Zappa and De Kift his music just jumps around and produces loads of energy; rock and roll at its most primitive. Hank Mizell all over again, yet beyond this one hit wonder's wildest imagination. Todd Tobias has tapped into extremely primitive emotions to come up with a superb record that can guide anyone through the political fads and anxieties of 2018. The kind of music that makes people shut up and dance, while producing huge smiles along the way.

There are three options to do so in The Netherlands. The album is premiered with members of bands from the Tiny Room Records label. See below where you can go to.


You can listen to and buy the album here:



22 March OCCI, Amsterdam
23 March Worm, Rotterdam
25 March Studio Patrick Utrecht

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


maandag 19 maart 2018

Interview with Zoe and Rosie of Worry Dolls for WoNoBlog

Photo by Wo.
Interview by Wout de Natris 

© WoNoBlog 2018

Having listened to 'Go Get Gone' now about 8 months ago, I tipped Hans of the Q-Bus in Leiden straightaway. Within hours the return message read: "just booked them". Hence I knew I would be in the Q-Bus in Leiden about 6 months later. The album was reviewed by both Erwin and myself, the show was reviewed this January. After the show Zoe and Rosie agreed on an interview. A trip to Nashville held things up a little, but here's the result. As you will find, I was lucky to escape with my life....

You both started as solo singer-songwriters. How did you meet?
We were writing songs and playing guitar as solo artists from the age of 12. We both went to study music in Liverpool at 18 and we met during the first week at an open mic night in the Uni canteen! 

Is there a specific moment you can point to when you both realised you were better off together?
We started off just singing together, we used to sing a lot of Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch and Nickel Creek songs that were rich in harmonies, and then we started singing each other’s songs and writing together. We realised that even though our voices were very different, there was something really special when we came together. When we graduated, we decided to stop our solo projects and focus exclusively on Worry Dolls. 

What is it that makes you better as a duo?
We always strive to be the best we can be, we both have very high expectations and are perfectionists so these qualities help us to be better in all aspects of our music. Within writing songs together and organising all the background admin that goes into touring and releasing the music itself. We also both have very different strengths so that definitely helps us to grow and together we have all that we need to pursue Worry Dolls. It also helps that we are great friends, we’ve known each other a long time and we can always just say what’s on our minds! 

Did you play the same sort of music solo or did you evolve together to where you are now?
Well Zoe had a more folk music background with both her parents having met in a folk band and with her Irish and Liverpudlian roots. Rosie grew up being inspired by and loving alt-Country and Rock music. So when we both came together we fused all our influences and this became the sound that we create through Worry Dolls. We like to think of it as all our favourite influences coming together to create something new and more mature that the solo music we created before. 

On stage you regularly said “when we wrote this song…”. Do you actually write together? How does the “average” Worry Dolls song come to pass?
Yes we co-write most of the songs together. Zoe wrote Passport on her own, but we usually come up with ideas apart and bring them together to finish. Sometimes it starts with a guitar or banjo riff, sometimes a lyric or a melody, or even just an interesting title. It’s usually based on whatever overpowering emotion we’re feeling at the time. 

The lyrics of several songs are about leaving, leaving someone behind. In how far is this in connection with the lives you chose to live as hard working musicians and the great difference with the rest of the world, like you pointed to on stage?
Yes that is definitely a theme that us as musicians can relate to. A lot of the choices and sacrifices we have made for Worry Dolls have meant leaving people or places behind. It is those choices that define us and inspire us to write. In particular the songs on our album were all written within a short period of time, just a few months. We’d left our jobs and our lives behind in London to travel to America to make the album. 

Your album ‘Go Get Gone’ was recorded in Nashville. What is the attraction of this southern U.S. city to two young women from the U.K.?
So much of the music that we love and grew up on comes from Nashville. We initially went there just to soak up the culture and watch incredible musicians play. But we ended up meeting so many like-minded new friends, we wrote a whole bunch of songs and completely fell in love with the place. We knew we had to go back and make an album there. 

Could the album have been made in London or would it really have been a different album because of that fact?
The theme behind our first debut album was definitely about our choices and journey to the US. I think the first album would have been different had we made it in our home city. Most of the inspiration was found through being brave, leaving our home and our comfort zone and having all these new, life changing experiences in an incredible new city. We were both working full time in London, so we needed to take ourselves out of the daily grind to truly be inspired. We really felt a spiritual connection to Nashville like neither of us had ever felt for any other city. 

Photo by Wo.
Who are your heroes and influences and have these changed over the years?
Truly classic singer songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Eva Cassidy to more modern day writers like Patty Griffin and Gillian Welch. Incredible women like Alison Krauss & Dixie Chicks, who make us strive every day to be better singers, better players. We love artists that really put special attention into their lyrics. Jason Isbell & Courtney Marie Andrews both have such wonderful lyrical styles and tell stories in such a unique and fresh, yet nostalgic way. 

Your harmonies are so perfect, as if your voices “were made for each other”, I wrote in a review. How hard do you have to work at them or do they just come about naturally?
First of all, thank you very much… We’ve been singing together for quite a few years now. At first we really worked hard to refine our vocal sound. We’ve never really had one of us ‘taking the lead’ and the other singing harmony, because we love the idea of both of us together being one voice, one that’s different from either of us on our own. Now it comes a lot more naturally, we often write in harmony instead of adding a harmony afterwards.

You made a comment about liking a song best that is just basic in sound and instruments. That shows in your music, yet the music is perfect. When do you know that a song is finished?
Aw that’s very kind of you to say. As an artist a song never feels truly finished and an album is the same feeling. However, if we never released and shared our music it would never reach anyone, so you have to let the song go and live their lives! The great thing is that even once the song is recorded, it can change and evolve live and you can breathe fresh life into it for years to come. 

A worry doll is a beautiful concept and feeling. What made it the right name for you to work under?
We had worry dolls as kids to tell our worries to and put under our pillows. They’re all about relieving anxiety and laying down your troubles - that seems so linked to how therapeutic music can be, for both the listener and the writer. We write about our fears and worries and this helps us get through hard times, and we hope it helps our listeners too.

In the artwork of the band, the art used is more in association with North American indigenous people (at least for me) than Middle American of the worry dolls. What is the story about your choice for beads and feathers as a statement in artwork?
For us it’s not about the geography, but the sentiment. As kids we also had dreamcatchers, which are similar to worry dolls because they encourage positive dreams by catching your bad ones. We grew up going to hippy festivals and craft camps, and we love the homemade, protective nature of both worry dolls and dreamcatchers. We always find beautiful dreamcatchers all over the world, we starting making them and collecting feathers. Whenever we find feathers it feels like good luck, so we chose feathers as our theme. 

On the setlist I saw lying on the floor at the Q-Bus, behind each song are the mysterious words “baby”, “GS” and “here”. What do they refer to?
This is our secret code. If we told you, we’d have to kill you… 

What can the world expect from Worry Dolls in the near future?
Well we are very much looking forward to our next trip to Holland. And of course, more music!!

zondag 18 maart 2018

Shadow People. The Limiñanas

Het Franse duo The Limiñanas maakt inmiddels al een aantal jaren platen en het zijn platen die ik bijna allemaal met een brede glimlach heb beluisterd.
Op deze platen eren Marie Limiñana en Lionel Limiñana de gigantische muzikale erfenis van Serge Gainsbourg, maar slepen ze er, over het algemeen samen met flink wat gastvocalisten, ook van alles bij, variërend van 60s psychedelica en flarden van The Velvet Underground tot shoegaze en hedendaagse Franse pop.
Ik heb absoluut genoten van de vorige platen van The Limiñanas, maar nam ze op hetzelfde moment niet heel serieus. Zeker een ‘guilty pleasure’, maar niet direct een krent uit de pop was mijn afweging tot dusver.
Vorige week verscheen de nieuwe plaat van het duo uit Perpignan en langzaam maar zeker raak ik er van overtuigd dat ik mijn mening over The Limiñanas maar eens moet herzien.
Dat betekent niet dat er op Shadow People heel veel is veranderd. Ook voor hun nieuwe plaat hebben Marie en Lionel Limiñana weer flink gespit in het fascinerende oeuvre van Serge Gainsbourg, maar ook dit keer worden de invloeden van deze unieke Franse muzikant met van alles en nog wat vermengd. 
In de instrumentale openingstrack worden hippieklanken, compleet met sitar, uit de jaren 60 gecombineerd met gruizige shoegaze gitaren en zo heeft herbergt iedere track op Shadow People combinaties van invloeden die je niet verwacht.
Net als op haar vorige plaat heeft het Franse duo een beroep gedaan op een aantal gastvocalisten, onder wie The Brian Jonestown Massacre voorman Anton Newcombe, die de hoogtijdagen van The Jesus And Mary Chain laat herleven en actrice Emmanuelle Seigner, die een vleugje zuchtmeisje toevoegt aan het voornamelijk gruizige geluid van The Limiñanas. Verder duikt ook dit keer Joy Division en New Order bassist Peter Hook op en wordt een van de tracks bijzonder fraai versierd met de man’s uit duizenden herkenbare baslijnen.
Ook op Shadow People vermaakt The Limiñanas weer met meedogenloos aanstekelijke popliedjes en vele twists. Door het Franse tintje dat het duo uit Perpignan geeft aan haar muziek klinkt ook Shadow People weer anders dan de meeste andere platen van het moment, maar waar ik de muziek van The Limiñanas tot dusver beluisterde als een ‘guilty pleasure’, kan ik dit keer alleen maar concluderen dat Marie en Lionel Limiñana en hun muzikale medestanders een verdomd goede plaat hebben gemaakt.
Het is een plaat met gruizige psychedelica als rode draad, maar wat zit er veel moois verstopt onder de gruizige gitaarlagen en de wat zweverige klanken. The Limiñanas beginnen in de jaren 60, maar citeren dit keer ook stevig uit de jaren 80 en slaan vervolgens een brug naar het heden. De songs op de plaat zitten na één keer horen stuk voor stuk in je hoofd, al is het maar vanwege de geweldige melodieën en het zwoele Franse tintje.
Shadow People laat zich, net als veel van de platen van Serge Gainsbourg, beluisteren als een soundtrack bij een niet bestaande film. Het is een film waarvan je zelf de beelden mag bedenken, wat de luistertrip van The Limiñanas nog wat fascinerender maakt. Dat The Limiñanas een heuse krent uit de pop hebben afgeleverd zal inmiddels duidelijk zijn.

Erwin Zijleman

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


zaterdag 17 maart 2018

Let's retire! Artists and retirement plans

There's something in the water. All of a sudden there's news of rockstars retiring in a disturbing number in the starting weeks of this year. Wo. noticed the pattern and started a conversation under the title: Something new, yet slightly worrying. Inevitably there's some reminiscing involved of better things.

Wo., 9-2
There is another sort of news that is somewhat worrying and around a lot in the 5 weeks this year is old. Farewell tours.

First Neil Diamond had to stop his tour due to dementia. Somewhere around that date Elton John announced a, three year, farewell tour. I already saw the posters up along the roads announcing a show in big letters, golden coloured, saying "FAREWELL". Then Slayer announced its final tour, definitely a younger generation, so it can always comeback. Yesterday a show by Paul Simon was announced in the newspaper: 'Homeward Bound. The farewell tour".

We are saying goodbyes in more ways than we thought just a few weeks ago. This is about ending a career, by people who have entered their seventies (plus). Or at least their live playing days.

Now I'm not a big fan of either of the four, although three of them have their moments, with Paul Simon liked best by me. It means that more will follow and probably sooner than later. It is not a taboo to actively end a musical career.

Gary, 9-2
Well yes, I am afraid that this is a fact of life… we are all getting older, and pro-musicians and artists have to plan carefully how they tour as even air-con/private plane/limo/hotel suite at ’senior’ years have a huge impact on performance. Elton is only retiring from touring… that doesn’t mean he will not do the odd appearance or even concert when the mood takes him. I saw him in a recent interview and he said he wanted to see his children grow up…. Touring would preclude that…

But in general, we must expect the inevitable for our heroes and idols, eventually they will all become too old, infirm, ill to perform, write or record. The unpalatable truth is that they will ALL eventually die. In recent year the deaths of Emerson, Lake, Bowie, Rick Wright (this list is not exhaustive have brought closer the realisation that my era of music is passing… Where before the deaths of people like Hendrix, Joplin, Paul Kossoff through drug abuse was tragic but  understandable, and later artists passing like Freddie Mercury because of illness. But now our heroes are dying… from old age!

It is the way of the universe and although no matter how tragic, bleak and uncomfortable this truth is… I know I must be thankful that I lived through such an amazing period of great music. I believe I am so lucky to have been born in the late 50s and to have been old enough to see and hear the great artists, bands and music of the 60s and 70s.

I feel sad that my children are unlikely to be able to experience the kind of musical creativity that I took for granted…. Indeed, it seems that the younger generations do not enthusiastically relate to music in the same way that our generation did? 

I hope that future generations will rediscover the music of the 60s and 70s much like today people are rediscovering jazz, big band, folk and classical music? I refuse to believe that such a wonderful period of innovation and creativity will be forgotten?

Wo. 9-2
Well the good news on my end is that, my son is an even bigger Beatles fan than I am. And my two youngest step sons love to go to The Analogues shows with me as a birthday present and got to know The Beatles first mostly through my son who made them a compilation for in the car during a holiday. Now my son certainly is not an example for his age group.

The good thing about raising him on lots of good music is that he has bought me a ticket for the first time. We are going to Franz Ferdinand next month in his new hometown. BTW I got the new album today and it, again, is great.

What I notice about the youngsters in my life is that they listen to everything. From the latest rappers and stuff, to things like Steve Miller Band or just as easily sing along to a very early Stones hit. What I am not sure of is whether they appreciate music the way we did. They have everything one click away. We depended on many factors to be able to hear something and sometimes never heard a song again for years. It was just something in my mind until I found a second hand copy decades later. What we had was valued a lot more and to get an album that you did not like, was nothing short than a disaster as we had to wait until the next special occasion before we could ask for the one we did want.

I just listened to a Stones greatest hits compilation over dinner, nearly all songs we heard were from around 1965. I could sing along to every song, like I can for 40 years or more, but so could the stepkids to some of them. Even Gimme Shelter.

So yes, it's different, but I do think they will find out what they really like if they haven't already. There is just so much to distract them from music and their money goes into games. They don't own a single record. My son does, but I think they were all presents. Now he's earning money, perhaps this will change. I'll ask him when I visit his home.

In the meantime we just have to wait who retires next, voluntarily or not. Not me I hope. We just played 'Come Together' for the first time and did that feel nice. A blues cover from a blues cover is up next: 'It's Your Voodoo Working'' by Eilen Jewell.

P.S. Wo., 14-03
This week I read that Lynyrd Skynyrd is embarking on its farewell tour in the U.S. this May.


vrijdag 16 maart 2018

Yada Yada. Odd Couple

Another album from Germany on the blog. It's highly likely that every cliché in the rock book comes by on Yada Yada. Who cares when the music Odd Couple produces is as much fun as it is?

What to make of the title Yada Yada? Of songtitles like 'Bokeh21'?, 'Katta'?, Fangdannen'. All the other titles are just as short. 'Vielfrass', 'Stiff', 'Robotik'. It all suggest a sense of weirdness but most of all directness. Direct Yada Yada is and nobody got hurt by a little weirdness in music.

The album opens with what seems like and up and down rock song, 'Bokeh21'. The weirdness comes in through the vocoder voice and the use of synthesizers to create blips and blops that can be heard on record since Roger Waters ordered a kind of synthesizer while recording 'Dark Side Of The Moon' in 1972. The drums never relent, it is the rock guitars that are traded in for the synths.

Odd Couple is of course a, this year 50 year old, film turned into a television series. I think I have seen some episodes at some point in time. Now Odd Couple is a band from Berlin. Is it a duo or a trio? I'm trying to find out for you. On the publicity photo three persons are depicted. In every write up I find on the band just two names come up: Tammo Dehn and Jascha Kreft. That will need to do for now, at least until some more research gave me the name Dennis Schulze. All three are involved in the songwriting at some point or other. Allowing for several exceptions the instrumental division is Dehn drums, Kreft guitar and keys, Schulze bass and then some. After 'It's A Pressure To Meet You (2015) and Flügge (2016), Yada Yada is Odd Couple's third full length release.

According to the bio the band chose a more experimental and grown up sound for its new album. I can't tell at this point in time. Odd Couple has found itself a firm rocksound in which electronics and experimentations in sound are never far away. At the same time a punkrock attitude shows through, giving the album a kind of solidness not comparing to "simple" rock. The vocals are of a relaxed nature more in tune with the hippies of the 60s. Psychedelia is certainly involved  As you can read Odd Couple does everything and then some not to be pushed into a single corner. It is not to be labelled that easily. Just listen to 'Fangdannan' and fly with the butterflies, "wie eine Schmetterling". The electronic sounds involved in 'Fangdannan' were unheard of in 1967, the effect is exactly the same. Fluid projections on the far wall, a joint or spliff in hand and off you go.

Odd Couple is not a band that opts for the easy way. A song is never just a song. The experiment never far away. Things are tried out and many ideas were probably left on the studios floor for what they were. Discarded simply because it did not work or better ideas presented itself. Just listen to how 'Robotik' develops. The song has so many twists and changes. Many ideas will have fallen through here and dispensed with. It must be fun, exhilarating as well as frustrating to work within Odd Couple. Unless one person decides, but my odds are on that not being the case, as there are two principal songwriters who will both have their ideas. The same goes for Schulze when he contributes.

Yada Yada is an album that is interesting for a few reasons. In other words it stands out. It may not be exemplary, there is more than enough to enjoy. From the first rush, as described at the start of this post, to the more in-depth acquaintance Yada Yada holds up. Another fine album from Germany it seems. There were years on end I didn't hear a single one and I can already predict there will be another one in about a month's time.


You can listen and buy Yada Yada here:


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