Thursday, 30 October 2014

Getting Lost In The War Of Drugs



With their third album Lost In A Dream The War On Drugs forced a break through this year, which will end up on many year lists at the end of this year. And for a good reason, since it's a smart record with wonderful songs, built up in a clever way. Now the band is playing the bigger club stages and selling them out in no time. I'm glad I got my ticket early since Paradiso sold out months before tonight's show.

The War On Drugs at Paradiso Amsterdam, October 28 2014



It is clear that most people got acquainted to the band with the last album, since songs of that album are greeted with a bigger response than older songs. The five piece band have improved their sound, that now is full and layered. And pretty loud as well, judging from the faces of some people, although I don't really notice because of the ear plugs I'm always wearing. All I know, is that the sometimes clear sound is wonderful tonight, exposing all the beauty of this band.



The songs, a mix of Springsteen and Dylan, with a little pinch of Dire Straits added to it, are clever songs. Repetitive parts by guitar, keyboard and sax, are playfully dancing around each other. Since the parts themselves are kept simple, it never ends up in a wild mix of noise, but instead it combines into a colourful palette of music. Adam Granduciel's vocals are embraced by the music and his skilful guitar solos cause little eruptions, adding enough excitement to the mix, so it never gets boring.



Older songs that sometimes are more acoustic originally, get slightly different arrangements so they fit the new songs and sound. The band patiently crafts a wall of sound, that never gets too thick or wild, also because the set list is balanced, inserting slower songs at strategic positions to allow the crowd to relax again. It allows you to completely submerge yourself into their music and get lost in it. It wouldn't surprise me if this band will get even bigger in a few years and start filling up even larger venues.



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Setlist:
01. Burning
02. Arms Like Boulders
03. Under the Pressure
04. In Reverse
05. An Ocean in Between the Waves
06. Suffering
07. Best Night
08. Red Eyes
09. Eyes to the Wind
Encore
10. Lost in the Dream
11. Baby Missiles
12. Buenos Aires Beach
13. Your Love Is Calling My Name


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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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