Friday, 3 April 2015

Land Of The Rising Sun

Has it been that long? Yes, it has been over a year. Time to leave my blog for a few weeks. So you won't see a lot of activity over here this month. See you in a few weeks time!

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Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Spinning: The Hubschrauber - I Want To Buy A Farm With You

Nijmegen based band The Hubschrauber (German for chopper) didn't want to make a full album yet, since they think an album should be more than just a collection of songs and should tell a story. So instead they chose to record their second EP I Want To Buy A Farm With You, which gives them an opportunity to practice their "album making skills". They even made a mini-documentary about the recording process.

The band sounds mostly melancholic with playful guitars and warm vocals. They consider themselves a mix of the Pixies' dynamics and Grandaddy's melancholy, but when you listen to the tracks you'll also hear early dEUS which is not a bad reference either. This is not only because of the way the music and vocals sound, but also the way the songs build up and the band’s way of using dynamics. You can hear this on opening track 'Euphoria' that is alternating between slow, melancholic parts and rocking moments with a nice gritty guitar.

The band is clearly influenced by the grungy sound of the nineties as well, which you can hear in 'Clarity' and 'Simple-Minded Lucky Man'. It definitely bears the sound that the Pixies started and which was used by so many alternative bands in that time and today. The Hubschrauber make it their own and are not simply copying it. Two interludes are mixed in between the tracks, where the first one, that sounds like a defective tape recorder, plays after track two. The second one later on is a piano part that sounds as if it was recorded ages ago.

The album cover of I Want To Buy A Farm With You is a picture of a little house as a kid would draw it on a colourful background, but the record is definitely no child’s play. No, this is the real stuff, these are mature convincing songs with clever arrangements. Compositions that breath the right atmosphere and are of a high musical level. Although you can clearly hear their influences in the music, they know how to apply it to their sound in a tasteful way. Hopefully The Hubschrauber has a story to tell very soon, since it will be very interesting to hear a full album.

Listen to 'I Want To Buy A Farm With You' on Spotify.

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Monday, 30 March 2015

Spinning: Mark Ronson - Uptown Special

As producer of the successful Amy Winehouse record Back In Black, British producer and composer Mark Ronson became an established name. After that he worked with Lily Allen, Adele and even Paul McCartney. As performing artist he had not been able to match this success yet, but now with Uptown Special he finally did it. All over the world the record is at the top of the charts, driven by the single 'Uptown Funk' with Bruno Mars, that has been dominating the charts and radio stations for weeks, while the year had barely started. The steaming funk song funk song is probably already one of the biggest hits in 2015 early in the year.

Mark Ronson - Uptown Special

Ronson realized that he couldn't achieve this by himself so his idol, Pullitzer price winner Michael Chabon, and Jeff Bhasker, who worked with Kanye West ans Alicia Keys, helped him write the songs. He also managed to gather a group of diverse artists to lay down the vocals. Besides the aforementioned Bruno Mars, you can hear Tame Impala's Kevin Parker, rapper Mystikal and no one less than Stevie Wonder on the album.

Cleverly enough, Ronson knows how to get the best out of these artists, even when singing different kinds of songs. On the somewhat psychedelic and very danceable 'Daffodils' Parker is singing with lots of reverb, but his falsetto is also fitting the Steely Dan-like 'Summer Breaking', and again in the great disco song 'In Case Of Fire'. Not just the wonderful soul voice of Stevie Wonder is used in opening track 'Uptown's First Finale' but also his unique harmonica playing.

Apparently Ronson has a perfect nose for what a song needs to sound optimal. Inspired by the funk and disco from the seventies and eighties, and what he played himself in the New York clubs end of the nineties, Uptown Special turned into a fine dance record. Like he mentions himself, he is so full of ideas that he needs to make clear choices. That's something he didn't quite succeed on with this very versatile album, that indeed shows so many different sides, that he could have made three records out of it. With more focus it could have turned into an instant classic although he does showcase all of his talents now. Of course 'Uptown Funk' is such a great song and mega hit, that it could have carried the whole album by itself, although in the end that is not necessary. Because Uptown Special is primarily a wonderful and smart set of songs, that offers a lot to enjoy.

This review has been published on Festivalinfo in Dutch over here.

Listen to 'Uptown Special' on Spotify.

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