Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Tune In Your Head: Snail Mail - Pristine

On Austin's SXSW Snail Mail fronted by Lindsey Jordan had a very successful run and managed to stick out. New single 'Pristine' shows why: Read more!

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

On Stage: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart @ Tolhuistuin

I'm not sure it is a well chosen band name but Kip Berman at least he tried to be original when he came up with The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, named after an unpublished children's story. It does end up with good results when searching on Google which is one of the things to take into account nowadays. Berman has steadily been writing and recording music for over ten years now and is now touring in support of the latest LP The Echo Of Pleasure that came out half a year ago.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart at Paradiso Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, March 12 2018

Berman proved he can write good songs and continues to do so. Catchy choruses sometimes backed up by friendly guitar chords, grunge like sound walls at others. He has come up with a good sound which also holds up live on stage and it reminds of The Jesus And Mary Chain and The Smiths now and then. Berman's vocals aren't always spot on though and he seems to sing in the same register most of the times. The new songs aren't a lot different from the older ones, maybe just a change in details. Everything glues together nicely on stage. However the band is playing a pretty bleak show as they aren't exactly radiating a lot of energy.

Berman looks like a nice guy. He doesn't talk a lot but when he does his little chats feel a bit uncomfortable. These moments are also causing the show to slow down even more, which isn't helping the performance that is already lacking fire. Not much is happening on stage, causing the audience to lose interest. This is obvious from the lukewarm response after a song finishes. The only time there's a connection is in the first encore when Berman is on stage all by himself singing Leonard Cohen's 'Suzanne'. This concert was part of the Indiestad pass so many people came here because they own this pass, like me. I'm afraid they didn't make a lot of new fans tonight.

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Monday, 12 March 2018

On Stage: GoGo Penguin @ Paradiso

I've always liked penguins. There's something about their funny behaviour that I find comforting. It tells me to not take everything too seriously. Just look at them moving about in their kind of tongue-in-cheek walk of life. So a band named GoGo Penguin can't go wrong in my book, especially when they play groovy exciting jazz music.

GoGo Penguin at Paradiso Amsterdam, March 9 2018

There's a blackout in Amsterdam that cuts the power of the entire city centre including Paradiso. Fortunately before the end of the afternoon, power for the venue has been restored and shows can continue as scheduled. The Manchester trio has a wonderful new album A Humdrum Star out and plays many of the new tunes. Pianist Chris Illingworth's light melodies are backed up by the incredible rhythm section consisting of Nick Blacka on double bass and drummer Rob Turner. They don't waste a lot of time talking in between, except for the few times where Blacka thanks the audience or introduces a song or members of the band.

And why waste time anyway when you can use it to play these amazing songs that sound both classic and modern? The double bass give the songs the jazzy feel where the break beats on drums add a modern edge to it. The result is that the classical sounding piano melodies become very groovy and danceable. It sounds like a weird combination but it works incredibly well.

The trio know how to avoid the clichés and pitfalls of jazz music. The songs are not divided in individual alternating solos that are unnecessarily stretched. Instead all instrumental compositions, that they wrote themselves, have their own structure and keep capturing everyone's attention. Halfway the lights go out but the music continues while people light the stage with their cellphones. Another power problem? Probably not, but it is a nice touch. Like the penguins the threesome add some tongue-in-cheek elements to their solid performance, emphasizing the fun in music.

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