Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Spinning: Wolf Alice - My Love Is Cool

Their name was already buzzing around the music scene after releasing two EPs and a few singles, but now London based band Wolf Alice have released their first full album My Love Is Cool. Right after the release I saw the group play at the Best Kept Secret festival and was quite impressed with their music. After that I had more time to listen to the album properly.

After giving it a few plays I even became quite addicted to it. I instantly liked the mix of electro pop, rock and grunge which sounds refreshing. The band fronted by singer Ellie Rowsell who originally started out as a folk band, have perfected their sound since their first EP and now it sounds well balanced. It enables them to bring in lots of variation, sometimes pushing towards electronic pop and going into a more rough rock direction at others. That way songs like 'Soapy Water' and 'Your Loves Whore' are quite different but nevertheless already carry the Wolf Alice mark.

Rowsell also is able to adapt to both directions, singing with a clear voice on 'Silk' or screaming on top of her lungs on the rocker 'You're A Germ'. And then the tracks also have lots of hit potential which catchy hooks, creative grooves and breaks like on 'Bros' and 'Giant Peach'. The grungy elements that sometimes are subtle or quite obvious like on 'Fluffy' give the album the right amount of bite. The songs deal with the usual themes in a young person's life like relationship trouble, the search for true love and other uncertainties in life. However the music is where the real beauty lies and that you will appreciate more and more every time you listen to it.

The best thing is, that Wolf Alice have created enough space around them to move in either direction or keep sitting where they are. In any case they are in a position where they can grow and let their music evolve in several ways. Live on stage you can hear it's still evolving and therefore it's worth to go check them out when they are in the neighbourhood. Especially since there's also plenty of potential to move up as well and the band may not be playing small stages any more within a few years.

Listen to 'My Love Is Cool' on Spotify.

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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Spinning: Tame Impala - Currents

One of the most anticipated albums of the past few months was without a doubt Tame Impala's Currents. Musical genius Kevin Parker already slowly revealed some tracks which gave some insight in the new directions he was going. It was clear the album only had a supporting role for the guitar and that Parker moved the synths into the spotlight. It is interesting to hear how this unfolds for the entire record.

Although it's not strictly a break-up album, Parker's break up with Melody Prochet of Melody's Echo Chamber is apparent on the album and has led to a few songs like the wonderful smooth soul track 'Cause I'm A Man' and 'Eventually'. The break-up and the album are part of the changes he has been going through and this is what reflects in the songs. Parker explained in an interview that changes flow through a person like currents and are part of life. It's clear those changes are what the record is about, including the break-up in his relationship and the changes in his music. Parker even sings about this in 'Yes I'm Changing'.

When you first hear the songs, they remind of 'Feels Like We Only Go Backwards' from the brilliant second album Lonerism. Many songs have the same feel and maybe Parker used that as a starting point. The songs are fluently flowing into each other and instead of fuzzed guitars you get spacy synths on reverb. Although especially that second album carried some big hits like 'Elephant', this one seems to lack potential hits. But 'Elephant' seemed unlikely to become a hit at first as well and when you give it a second thought, songs like 'The Less I Know The Better' and 'Let It Happen' could easily turn up high in the charts.

With every spin, the new sounds sinks in more and becomes more familiar. Listening closely to the album it's also not such a drastic change as it seems. The tools may be different but Parker is actually still crafting his songs in the same way as he used to. Instead of carving his art from stone with a chisel, he's now painting on canvas. Although the result is seemingly different, giving it a close listen reveals that it is still unmistakably a genuine Tame Impala work of art with lots of gems sparkling in it. It does feel less of a master piece than Lonerism, but maybe after some time it may prove to be just as brilliant or even better. If not, it's still a wonderful album and a proper addition to Parker's catalog.

Listen to 'Currents' on Spotify.

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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Bospop 2015 Saturday

The Bospop festival in the South of The Netherlands is advertised as a classic rock festival. However going over the line-up, classic rock is used in the broadest sense of the term, which is in fact a good thing, since it opens up to a somewhat peculiar but at the same time interesting program. Friends suggested to visit the festival on the first day which looked good and so we did.

Bospop 2015 Saturday, July 11 2015

Comfortably located next to the highway it is a fast and easy journey to the festival. We were there on time because we definitely didn't want to miss the wonderful Navarone kick off the day.

I know what I am gonna get from this amazing rock band. Their music is breathing classic rock in every way but at the same time sounds very fresh and up to date. Traces of Pearl Jam can be found as well and the sturdy rock riffs and drum grooves are solid enough to carry the incredible voice of singer Merijn van Haren. It's a dirty job opening a festival, since most people have not even arrived yet and it's pretty hard winning over the ones that don't know you. But Navarone work hard and put down a convincing show once again. At the end of their set it got more crowded in front of the stage which means they were able to drag people to their show. For us it's a wonderful start of this sunny day.

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We try a bit of Croatian ladies band Luminize who fail to impress me and sound like any other average band in this pop rock genre. On the main stage another Dutch band, Racoon, have started their set. I used to like the old Racoon sound when they played catchy indie rock and am not too fond of their more melancholic side that gave them their success. But it's a good live band that usually delivers. But today maybe the heat got to them and it seems as if every song is played in a lower gear. Most songs are mid tempo anyway and the music matches this hot lazy afternoon. I've seen them in better shape before.

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Layla Zoe
So it's time for some fire to keep this day going and Canadian blues singer Layla Zoe is right on time. She has a great voice and her band is also doing a good job. Of course there's nothing new to the standard blues rock songs they are playing with the occasional shredding blues solo, but it should be appealing to a classic rock minded crowd. It sounds great and Zoe is working hard to keep everyone focused, using the whole stage for her rock poses and addressing the crowd regularly. It's exactly what we need at this moment and Jan Laacks's guitar solos are quite impressive and stoke the fire even more.

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Melissa Etheridge
I lost track of Melissa Etheridge after her successful years at the end of the eighties and early nineties. I only know her music from this era and am not familiar with her more recent work. Today she proves to be a very professional and impressive live musician. Her voice is excellent and she knows how to play a crowd. She has gathered a very good band around her and especially Fugees bass player Jerry Duplessis is a delight to watch and listen to with his meaty bass sound. Of course she ends her set with a very lively version of 'Like The Way I Do' that goes down well.

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Former Marillion singer Fish is treating Bospop to a complete performance of the Marillion classic Misplaced Childhood. It's part of a 30th anniversary celebration of the album that rocketed Marillion to super stardom. Although I'm not really fond of the eighties prog rock genre it is nice to hear those songs live. They are well performed although I'm a bit disappointed in Fish's vocals who has sounded better in the past. For a true Marillion fan this must be a real treat but in the end it becomes a bit weary for me and I can't make it to the end.

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Gary Clark Jr.
Instead we return to the main stage and find ourselves a good spot in front of it where Gary Clark Jr. has already started playing. He is sometimes called the "new Hendrix" which is no wonder when you hear him play. Although I like his sound and songs, he's not there yet to really compete with the legend himself. Probably that's not what he intends to do anyway, but instead is just trying to play great music. It's a good set, but Clark Jr. could fire it up more and turn his performance into a more lively one.

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Belgian band Novastar is actually the project of Dutch born Joost Zweegers who is a talented songwriter. The ballad like songs aren't exactly classic rock songs but I'm glad I get to see this band. The melancholic music combined with the clear pleasant voice of Zweegers is wonderful and it sucks me right in. It results in a dreamy mood that works quite well on a warm summer's night.

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ZZ Top
Bearded blues giants ZZ Top are today's headliner and the ones to close the first day of the festival. Due to the modest setup of the festival and the relaxed crowd we have a great spot to see the blues trio perform. Of course I've seen them last year and you know exactly what you're going to get. The three veterans may not exactly go crazy on stage, but it's the details that count. The greatest hits set has all the songs you can wish for, from 'Tush' to 'Gimme All Your Loving', but it's the subtleties that make it so enjoyable. The quick looks the three are exchanging, the chemistry between Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill, the few choreographed steps and the subtle jokes. If you're into their music like me, the legendary band are still a lot of fun to watch. And of course they can still play some great blues music.

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I think this festival is not about spectacular headliners or crazy shows. It is aimed at a crowd that wants to hear some good music and enjoy a nice day. That's exactly what we got today and so we can go home completely satisfied.

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