Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Ty Segall Close To A Masterpiece

Not many artists are as active and productive as Ty Segall. The number of records, singles and music the man is releasing as himself, one of his alter egos or his many collaborations, makes you wonder about his night's rest. You would think he may be choosing quantity over quality, but the constant flow of music never disappoints. Manipulator is his seventh solo album and is definitely not his least.

Ty Segall - Manipulator

On this record Segall doesn't hold back in any way. He's going from garage rock, to glam rock, from britpop to hardrock. And with seventeen songs, just short of an hour of music, length wise he's not pacing himself either. It results in a sum up of everything he stands for, every piece of music he ever recorded and includes all the music that inspired him. The production is prolific with strings scattered around like in 'The Clock'.

And so we can hear plenty of Bowie on 'The Faker' that even echoes a bit of 'The Jean Genie'. 'Feel' has a big hardrock riff that keeps growing throughout the song, packing plenty of Zeppelin. T-Rex is never far away in a glam rock piece like 'Who's Producing You?' and there are Beatles references all over. Fans of his garage sound, don't need to worry, since most songs also have a garage rock edge to it, like 'Tall Man Skinny Lady'.

You do wonder if he shouldn't have left some songs out, cut it back to ten, maybe twelve songs, which could have made it more compact, more coherent and could have turned the album into an instant classic. On the other hand it does show all Segall's pretty colours, without holding back. He's dusting off classic rock in his own way and on his own terms, letting it shine more than ever. Maybe because of all the variation and lack of focus it doesn't turn Manipulator into an absolute masterpiece, but it's a damn fine album nevertheless.

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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Sold Out Felabration Has Rough Start, Ends On A High

For the fourth time Jungle by Night are organizing Felabration, the annual celebration in honour of Fela Kuti. So far they have been able to come up with great bands and this year this is no different. Next to German band Karl Hector & The Malcouns they were able to book Ethiopean jazz master Mulatu Astatke. Plenty of reasons to join the celebrations again.

Felebration at Paradiso Amsterdam, October 11 2014

The celebrations are off to an early start and we can't make it in time for the beginning. Unfortunately this means we miss most of Karl Hector & The Malcouns' performance and walk in during their last song.

Mulatu Astatke
I'm glad though that we're on time to see Mulatu Astatke and his great band. After their wonderful performance at the Into The Great Wide Open festival last month I'm ready for a lot more. Unfortunately the sounds is absolutely awful and Mulatu's vibraphone is almost impossible to hear. The sound engineer must have been sleeping since it doesn't really improve and the sound stays pretty band throughout their performance. Mulatu and some of his band members are sometimes looking desperately in the direction of the monitor engineer, so I'm guessing things are sounding bad for them as well.

It doesn't get them down though and the band are trying their hardest to play a good show. The Ethiopean master is sometimes explaining what composition they were playing, but this is hard to understand. You can tell he has composed sound tracks since some of the songs sound cinematic. In other compositions you hear why he's performing here tonight, when the songs are explosive and percussive. The skill of these musicians and the strength of the compositions make their performance beat the miserable sound.

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Jungle By Night
Things are different when Jungle By Night take the stage. Maybe the settings of the sound table were saved only for their performance, since there don't seem to be any problems during their performance. The young boys are once again in a festive mood and totally turn the night into a celebration. By now they can turn any venue into a party and get any crowd to move. Where their older songs are typical afrobeat songs, the songs of the new album are so much more. What they have in common is that they all sounds exciting and are played with a lot of heart.

The boys are firing up the willing crowd and are totally killing it tonight. And of course they go out with a blow, when all musicians of the night are joining in on the ultimate Fela Kuti song 'Zombie'. Kuti himself would have loved to be on this stage himself.

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Monday, 13 October 2014

Fool's Gold Still A Hidden Gem

Mixing together African music with Western pop, Fool's Gold are an interesting band. The songs in Hebrew on their first self titled record made them sound even more exotic and managed to cause quite a buzz. This mix definitely works well and the band turns it into irresistible swinging songs. Time to check them out live.

Fool's Gold at Bitterzoet Amsterdam, October 8 2014

Only a handful of people found their way to the cosy venue for the band from LA. It's a small turn up for such an exciting band, but the band is determined to show everyone a good time. And that is very hard work tonight, since a part of the young crowd is a little more preoccupied with themselves and each other, than really paying a lot of attention to the band. When singer Luke Top is talking to the crowd, there's not much response.

It still doesn't get the band down, who work their way through a varied set. They have now found a stable line-up and have turned into a tight five piece. This is also noticeable in the new songs of their third album which will come out next year, that sound more coherent. The good thing tonight is that people did come in to do some dancing. And that is no problem with this band whose music is very hard to stand still to. The upbeat African rhythms are perfect to shake your booty to, which is exactly what everybody is doing. In the end that must be satisfying for this band who deserves much more. I'm definitely looking forward to their new album a lot.

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