Friday, 21 November 2014

Shaking Godspeed's Perfect 'Welcome Back Wolf'



Why do I think Shaking Godspeed is such a great rock band? Just listen to the albums they put out so far or go see them live. They won't make any concessions, won't restrict themselves to any genre and like to think outside the box. What you get is highly creative music, that is sometimes recalcitrant and a bit harder to get into, but always very rewarding. And now they have released their new album Welcome Back Wolf.

Shaking Godspeed - Welcome Back Wolf

After the last record, keyboard player and bassist Paul Diersen left the band, so the remaining two members had to look for a replacement. Instead they found two, guitarist Rocco Ostermann and bassist/keyboard player Alexander van Damme have joined the band. It means their sound has changed, although not drastically, but still it has an impact on the music. The keyboards have moved to the background a bit, so you won't hear many mad organ solos. Instead there's more guitar added to the mix, which opens new possibilities. Ostermann is also taking part in the song writing although his part on this album is still quite modest.

The result is a versatile record, filled with smart and unique rock songs. Shaking Godspeed have really outdone themselves here, with twelve rich tracks, that are all small adventures by themselves. As usual the band is asking you to dig in deep, instead of just sitting back. No, you really have to give it a careful listen and a few spins before the album will fully reveal itself. But when it does, you can truly appreciate the alternating grooves and swinging riffs of 'Tombstone Talk', the peculiar breaks in the title track that add lots of tension in the music. Or what about the razor sharp riffs in the twisted 'Goodbye Poupon'? Still not crazy enough for you? Listen to the piercing guitar in the deranged 'Future Boogie' and enjoy the roller-coaster ride of 'Paranoia Blues'.

Shaking Godspeed keeps raising the bar with every record they release. Welcome Back Wolf is a new highlight in their catalogue and nothing short of a masterpiece. It combines everything you expect from great music and more: plenty of adventure and excitement, new discoveries with every spin, skilled musicianship and intelligent compositions. Every time you listen to it, it will amaze you how good it is. Don't believe me? Go listen for yourself. It's impossible but at the same time exciting to try to imagine what they will come up with next.



Listen to 'Welcome Back Wolf' on Spotify.



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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Bob Mould Is Looking Back And Forward



This year rock icon Bob Mould released his new solo album Beauty and Ruin, which shows a vivid Mould reminding us of his glory days with Hüsker Dü. In support of this new album he is touring around the club circuit and fortunately wasn't skipping Amsterdam. Time to pay him a visit.

Bob Mould at Paradiso Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, November 10 2014



The big backdrop is showing the cover of his new album, the combined pictures of a young and old Bob Mould, a big chunk of music history between them. Mould kicks off with his younger version, playing Hüsker Dü's 'Flip Your Wig' and 'Hate Paper Doll' back to back. A flying start to the liking of the fans tonight in the almost full venue. It immediately fires up the steamroller that is unleashed upon us by him and his loud, ruthless but very tight band.



Since the rock veteran proves to be in great shape and doesn't like to hold back. It doesn't take long before his glasses are foggy giving him a bit of a silly look from time to time. With his somewhat uncontrolled moves around the stage he doesn't exactly look like a big rock star, but that isn't something he's after. He's more like the anti-hero that left his marks in music history, because you can clearly hear where bands like Pixies and Foo Fighters are coming from.



And exactly that's what's Mould is giving us, a history lesson in rock music, with half of the set comprising of Hüsker Dü and Sugar songs. But his solo work, songs like 'The War' and 'Hey Mr. Grey', fits in their seamlessly, carrying the same energy and drive, exposing the same power. Although the themes of many songs aren't all that cheerful, tonight definitely is. Mould looks like he's enjoying it a lot, chatting to the crowd once and a while, but doesn't waste any time. Because, according to him, we have to catch the last boat from North Amsterdam to the town's center. Apparently he didn't know the ferry keeps running all night long. After the regular set he comes back for some more, knocking out two more songs of the legendary Hüsker Dü, finishing off with 'Chartered Trips', underlining once more where it all started.



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Setlist:
01. Flip Your Wig
02. Hate Paper Doll
03. Hoover Dam
04. Star Machine
05. The Descent
06. I Don't Know You Anymore
07. Little Glass Pill
08. Kid With Crooked Face
09. Helpless
10. Nemeses Are Laughing
11. The War
12. Hardly Getting Over It
13. Keep Believing
14. Fire in the City
15. If I Can't Change Your Mind
16. Hey Mr. Grey
17. Tomorrow Morning
18. Divide And Conquer
19. Something I Learned Today
20. In A Free Land
Encore:
21. Makes No Sense at All
22. Chartered Trips


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Thursday, 13 November 2014

Benjamin Herman Finds Talent Instead Of Trouble



Besides being a very good musician, Benjamin Herman apparently also has a keen nose for talent. He asked the young talented piano player Daniel Piekartz to record an album with his trio and persuaded him to sing as well. It resulted in the wonderful album Trouble earlier this year, with songs that remind of Chet Baker and other jazz singers of the past. The quartet is now doing a short tour in support of the album.

Benjamin Herman Trio & Daniel Von Piekartz at Bimhuis Amsterdam, November 9 2014



You would think that maybe Von Piekartz is too impressed by the other three experienced musicians, but either that is not the case or he's good at hiding it. The young pianist looks quite relaxed and is even joking around with the others. Benjamin Herman is announcing the songs they are playing most of the times, but sometimes Von Piekartz is doing it instead, in a loose and enthusiastic way. It turns the performance into a lot of fun, combined with some great music of course.



Because in the end, these are four very skilled musicians that make it look so easy. Even though this is a jazz show, we get to hear a bluesy J.J. Cale song 'You Got Me On So Bad' and a funky and soulful Sly Stone composition 'Wishful Thinkin'', one of Von Piekartz inspritations. Another song, 'Walking In Jesus Name', that Sly Stone performed at the age of nine, gets a bit of a make-over into 'Walking In My Baby's Name' with lots of gospel. It show cases the versatile voice of Von Piekartz, who also gives a fitting and beautiful performance of 'Lilac Wine' that is full of tension.



The other three are looking at him and each other in a content way. It has to be a pleasure to work with a talent like that, maybe reminding them of when they were that age, for the first time performing at the legendary Bimhuis. As Herman notes, they are past the danger zone themselves now, with all its pitfalls. They have made it, which is clearly showing tonight with inspiring solos, tight playing and virtuosity. I can only watch in awe at Herman's dazzling sax playing, Joost Patočka's smashing drumming and Ernst Glerum's groovy bass. Von Piekartz is a lucky guy that he is able to work with this trio.



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