Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Peter Matthew Bauer Can't Make Us Forget About The Walkmen Yet



American band The Walkmen never manager to break through to a big audience, despite several attempts and well received albums and shows. Last year November the band announced a long hiatus, that now looks like a definite breakup. Meanwhile several members started working on solo albums, including singer Hamilton Leithauser's debut, that was released recently. And now here is the first album Liberation! by Peter Matthew Bauer, keyboard player of the band, who played bass guitar in the beginning.

Peter Matthew Bauer - Liberation! (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)

The breakup apparently took place in good terms, since former band mates Leithauser and Matt Barrick cooperated on the album. The title doesn't refer to the liberation of the band he was part of for thirteen years, but to break loose from your surroundings, to experience freedom in all its shapes. He's mostly using his personal experience for inspiration which you can tell from a title like 'I Was Born In An Ashram'. Despite the personal songs he hasn't quite developed his own sound yet. 'Irish Wake In Varanasi' is a The Walkmen song and you can hear some Bruce Springsteen in 'Fortune Tellers'.

But the songs do have something in common, except for the piano piece 'Istanbul Field Recording', since they are all easy on the ears. Bauer has a bit of a nasal voice that brings Bob Geldof into mind now and then and is nice to listen to. The compositions are well thought through, have smart arrangements and are well performed. Bauer did try to give his sound a personal touch, like in 'Philadelphia Raga', that has some Indian influences as the title implies. But too often you will hear something familiar.

Liberation! turned into a decent debut, where Bauer seems to be searching for the right direction. It's obvious The Walkmen were a group of very skilled musicians, in case we forgot. Maybe we will get a few new projects in its place, that will fill the gap the band has left behind. But probably more often we will think back about them nostalgically. Despite a good attempt Bauer has not yet succeeded in taking this feeling away.



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

Listen to 'Liberation!' on Spotify.



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Saturday, 12 July 2014

Rock Werchter 2014 Day 4: Dancing In The Rain



On the last day of the festival we wake up to a nice sunny day. But the forecast is one that expects heavy rain storms. We'll just see about that. Nothing our friend Joe Piler can't fix. Here we go!

Rock Werchter 2014 Sunday, July 6 2014



Reignwolf
On the main stage a small band is opening the day. Reignwolf is the project of Jordan Cook. It starts out as a three man band, while Cook is climbing a loose bass drum at the front of the stage. His music is blues and classic rock and indeed he can howl like a wolf. Then the other band members leave the stage and Cook gets freaky. He's playing guitar while at the same time holding his microphone. Or he's playing the bass drum at the same time. Or, sure why not, he's actually behind the drum kit playing it, while playing the guitar and singing. This guy is a one man band! It's pretty impressive and quite entertaining. Still I want to see other bands so I leave before the end.



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Oscar & The Wolf
I want to see the Belgian band Oscar & The Wolf, who make nice dreampop songs that take you away to tropical islands. And the stage looks exactly like that with palm trees scattered around and mostly red and green lights. Their music is the kind where you close your eyes and let it carry you away. It may not sound too exciting or energetic but the band succeeds in creating that tropical atmosphere, the high temperature inside helps too, with sultry versions of their music.



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Parquet Courts
And now for something completely different. No tropical atmosphere with Parquet Courts, but excellent punk rock songs. Their new album Sunbathing Animal shows more depth and melody while it still sounds powerful. The four guys play them quite convincingly, although it doesn't light the fuse as you would expect. That's because the band doesn't exactly go wild on stage. Still because of their strong repertoire it is a nice show, but could have been a lot better.



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Royal Blood
There are only two musicians in Royal Blood and still they know how to produce a very big and solid sound. Singer and guitar player Mike Kerr uses a heavily distorted bass guitar to lay down heavy riffs where drummer Ben Thatcher is putting very tight grooves on top. The duo from Brighton are convincingly playing their blues rock songs and have no trouble entertaining the full tent. It's remarkable how these two can create this sound by just the two of them.



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Bastille
We take a break and have some food outside the festival side. While we're inside a tent to eat, a heavy rain storm passes by. We're lucky that we can sit this one out. We return to the main stage for Bastille, where the side has turned into mud and everyone is soaking wet. It's still raining, but not that bad anymore. No one is letting the rain get them down. It seems as everyone is eager to party anyway and Bastille has no trouble making the people dance. Their music isn't that brilliant or special but it's the right band at the right place at the moment.



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Franz Ferdinand
Although we have seen Franz Ferdinand twice in the last couple of weeks, we decide to go see them instead of Foals anyway. Not because we don't like Foals, on the contrary, but because we don't want to go inside another full tent. And of course because Franz Ferdinand never disappoints. It's the same set as the previous time, which is a perfect festival set. Again it doesn't miss its effect at all. The build-up in the beginning with some hits, then the middle part with some more down tempo songs, followed by the big blog at the end where the field explodes. Any festival should try to book this band.



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Kings Of Leon
We want to have a look at MGMT, but the tent is too full. We stand outside for a bit, but then decide to go check out Kings of Leon. The band is bigger than ever and you know what you're going to get. They play a decent set with many of their hits and some songs of their successful but quality wise poorer last few albums. We can even see Caleb Followill smile a few times. But the band just doesn't add a lot to the live experience. There are no surprises, no improvisations, everything is well rehearsed. It is actually quite boring. I wish they would spice it a up and look for a bit of adventure.



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Interpol
It looks like Interpol have found their balance again. After Carlos Dengler left the band, it was as if Interpol was somewhat disoriented. Today they prove there's still enough fire in them to play a convincing set. Their songs sound dark and threatening again, full of tension and power. The new song the band is playing, sounds promising and I'm really looking forward to their new album later this year.



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Stromae
Although it looked as if Kings of Leon were the headliner today, actually Stromae is the one to close the festival. And although some people were questioning it, no doubt he deserves it. It may be a risky choice by the Rock Werchters programmers, but one that works out great. From seemingly nowhere he rocketed into the spot lights last year with his hit 'Formidable'. And he proves to be a wonderful entertainer. I don't like his music too much, especially the songs that are more or less eurotrance, but boy what a great artist. His mimicry is great, the way he acts on stage, everything looks magnificent. He's a worthy ending to another great edition of this festival.



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What a blast it was again. I wonder though, why the festival didn't really celebrate their 40th anniversary or give it more attention. But maybe they wanted to let the line-up speak for itself, since it worked out in a great way. The crowd is always lovely here, full of energy, and many bands did feel this and played great sets. But next year we won't be there. We can't handle the four day camping anymore and we want to try out some new festivals. But I'm sure we will return some day to this wonderful place.

More Pictures

Rock Werchter 2014 Day 1
Rock Werchter 2014 Day 2
Rock Werchter 2014 Day 3

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Friday, 11 July 2014

Rock Werchter 2014 Day 3: Red And Orange



Today the sun is not waking us up, which is good since we can sleep longer this way. It is bad at the same time since it is expected to rain today. We end up eating a great pancake with cheese and some nice rolls and head out to the festival site.

Rock Werchter 2014 Saturday, July 5 2014

It is clear there are two World Cup football matches today. Many Belgian and Dutch fans are wearing their team's colours and there's a vibe of excitement everywhere. This should be a good day.



The Temperance Movement
A temperance movement is a movement that criticizes excessive alcohol consumption. I assume this British band took this name as a joke, since alcohol consumption is definitely not moderated at this festival. Although it's a new band it consists of experienced and skilled musicians. This is showing since their blues rock songs sound great. Singer Phil Campbell has a good voice that reminds of The Black Crowes' Chris Robinson. It doesn't take long before they have almost everyone's attention at the main stage. This is a very promising start of the day.



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Haim
The three Haim sisters had a incredible start of their career. Before their first album came out they were already playing a lot of shows. The ladies look like they had a rough or short night, but still fly right into it. The songs sound more rough live which is quite nice. They definitely can handle their instruments and hit songs like 'Falling' and 'The Wire' sound great. But sometimes it gets a bit messy, especially when they are just jamming. The three do make up for that in enthusiasm though.

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Ozark Henry
We enter a pitch dark tent where Ozark Henry is playing. The Belgian musician and his band are hidden behind a partially transparent screen. From our position it seems it is not transparent enough. It does fit his music though which is slow and dark. The songs are quite lovely and they know how to build up tension, keeping the crowd focused. When the screen is lifted partly, the musicians are still scarcely lit as they pick up the tempo. It may not be to everyone's liking or easy to get into, but it looks like most of the people are staying until the end.

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Biffy Clyro
The Scottish band Biffy Clyro moved from kind of hardcore in the beginning to more middle of the road alternative rock on their last few albums and achieved quite some success with that. In the meanwhile their live reputation grew and they are playing the main stage today. Lead singer Simon Neil's voice sounds really good. The band is tight and especially in the older, more heavy songs they are excelling. When they are playing their bigger hits like 'Bubbles' and 'Black Chandelier' many people on the field are singing along.

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Triggerfinger
The three gentlemen from Belgian giants Triggerfinger are in a tough spot. The Belgian national football team, The Red Devils, are competing with Argentina in the quarter finals of the World Cup while they have to play on the main stage. There was nothing the organization could do about it. Fortunately their fear of playing a half empty field didn't come true, although people wearing the Belgian colours are hard to spot.

It doesn't put down this great band that will never disappoint. They play their heavy grooving songs with all the heart and energy we're used of them. The songs of the new album By Absence Of The Sun already sound familiar as if they have been playing them for many years. As a gesture the band has hired two lovely ladies to give us the score of the match. It's a bad score, since the Belgian team is behind, but over here Triggerfinger are winning by a landslide. At the end of the show the girls are handing them a gold record for their new album, which is well deserved.



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The Black Keys
The Black Keys are the ones to wash away the disappointment of the Belgian fans. Nowadays there are permanently two musicians backing the duo up on stage. It's a solid show where the band plays many of their big hits. Of course everyone is singing along to 'Gold On The Ceiling', 'Lonely Boy' and 'Tighten Up'. Although they are playing their songs well, it never gets really exciting and they are not trying really hard to make us forget about the Belgian loss.



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Pixies
Fortunately there's always Pixies. We had quite the dilemma at this point as Dutchmen: see Pearl Jam or Pixies or support our national football team in their quarter final match? We decided to watch a few Pearl Jam songs from a good spot, then see Pixies play and then come back again later for Pearl Jam. But Eddie Vedder and Co. take too long to start their show so we head for Pixies. We can hardly get in the tent where the band is totally blowing everyone away with a tight and hard rocking show. Black Francis doesn't waste a lot of time in between songs but instead is knocking out their songs one by one. The crowd is going absolutely mental. No one's thinking about any football match over here. The band finally finishes everyone off with 'Where Is My Mind?'.



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Pearl Jam
We head back to Pearl Jam who started half an hour later than scheduled. But there's still more than half of their show left, since they were supposed to play for three hours. It looks like it's a bit mellow and Eddie Vedder is trying to read a speech in Flemmish. It's all part of a Pearl Jam show where you know things will pick up in the end as the band is growing. It's no different today when they play Pink Floyd cover 'Mother' and 'Jeremy' back to back, and 'Black', 'Daughter' and 'Porch' later on. You just got to love this band. By the time they start 'Alive' we hear the Dutch team have just won their game on penalty kicks. Naturally we're going crazy and have now forgotten about the Belgian loss and the rain earlier today. 'Rocking In The Free World' never sounded sweeter and when Pearl Jam close the night with 'Yellow Ledbetter' we just want to party.



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This day totally ended on a high and calls for celebrations. But there's another day coming so we better not go all the way.

More Pictures

Rock Werchter 2014 Day 1
Rock Werchter 2014 Day 2
Rock Werchter 2014 Day 4

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