Wednesday 30 December 2009

THX JHN For That Beautiful Goodbye

By the time I'm writing this review I know the farewell concert was the last gig of the year. So it was goodbye for more than one reason. This was really the last concert by Johan one of my favourite bands. One last time being part of those beautiful pop and rock songs.

Johan in Paradiso Amsterdam, December 22 2009 (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

Not all goodbyes have to be sad. Everyone had plenty of time to get used to the idea that after tonight there would be no Johan anymore. After a theater gig and one earlier this year in Paradiso I just had to be there to be able to see this band live for the very last time. I still don't know what I find so special about them. Of course their songs are brilliant and close to perfection. But not a lot is happening on stage or as singer Jacco de Greeuw put it himself "You all know that normally I'm a real chatty guy...". But once they start playing and you hear those beautiful harmonies and nicely flowing songs a little bit of magic is happening.

The set list was democratically chosen by the fans and so all the hits were passing by: 'Swing', 'Day Is Done', 'Tumble and Fall', 'Everybody Knows', 'Oceans', 'Walking Away'. They have so many to choose from. At the end of their regular set they were handed a gold record for 'Pergola' that was released in 2001 and is their most succesful album up till today. It was handed to them by Dutch writer Joost Zwagerman who held a pretty whining speech about the band quitting. When they returned for the encore the crowd were holding papers with 'THX JHN' printed on them which is also the title of their third album. The final song they played was a great version of 'Here' that seemed to capture the essence of Johan perfectly. A simple bend and hands waving by the members of the band was the final chord of Johan. The cheering of the crowd that lasted a long time couldn't persuade them to return. A good thing I have their albums.

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Monday 28 December 2009

De Dijk Steady As A Rock

It's December so over here that means snow, cold, grey skies and the winter blues. But also De Dijk in Paradiso. It's always a party and so our group of friends that visits De Dijk is growing every year.

De Dijk in Paradiso Amsterdam, December 18 2009 (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)

Of course De Dijk also means a guaranteed quality show but few surprises. And this time it was not different. A well balanced set full of hits and all time favourites, a mix of rock, soul and blues. The only surprise of the night was the old classic 'Zoveel Ik Kan' that they hardly ever play live. I can't even remember when I heard it live for the last time.

Too bad the sound was a bit off tonight. This is rare for De Dijk in Paradiso since they have played here so many times before and normally the sound quality is absolutely perfect. However this time it wasn't well balanced. The guitar of J.B. Meijers could almost not be heard and the horns were sometimes too loud while their solos weren't loud enough.

In the end it didn't matter and everyone was singing along. Lovers were holding each other, good friends were grabbing each other's shoulders and holding on to their beer that was flowing like water. So once again it was proven you can't go wrong with De Dijk.

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Friday 18 December 2009

Rocking All Night

A double bill with Drive Like Maria and Triggerfinger! That can only mean one thing: Let's rock all night! And so I made sure I got my tickets on time and we headed down to the Melkweg to catch some heat from these steady rock bands. Two bands that play heavy 70s inspired rock and stoner rock like tunes and have a good live reputation. So we should expect some fireworks tonight.

Drive Like Maria at the Melkweg Amsterdam, December 11 2009 (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
I've mentioned this band a couple of times before since I like them a lot. They play no nonsense rock and the band is tied. Their songs sound catchy and so does their album. Unfortunately drummer singer Bjorn Awouters broke a couple of ribs only a few days before this gig. But they didn't want to cancel this tour so they found a replacement drummer. Awouters still played the first songs behind the drum kit while singing but it was obvious that this was no picknick. Then he moved to the front of the stage but some moves still looked pretty painful. Respect for this die hard musician. I still think despite how good a drummer he is that he should be up front on the stage and let someone else play the drums. It makes the performance a lot more lively. And now it's time for them to come up with their own sound and take this rock train to the next level.

Triggerfinger at the Melkweg Amsterdam, December 11 2009 (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
Although it was a so called double bill it looked like Triggerfinger certainly was the main act. A big shiny red curtain hung from the back of the stage while all three band members including the drummer where up front on the stage. These are experienced musicians that can play some heavy songs. They were knocking them out one after another easily in a killer tempo. Singer Ruben Block is a charismatic person that looks like he walked straight out of a TV soap. Together with the distinct looking bass player Monsieur Paul aka Paul Van Bruystegem and very active drummer Mario Goossens, all dressed in stylish black, they are the perfect rock band. They give each other lots of space and seem to be fully adapted to each other. After a very tight set the last encore is a creative version of "Sweet Dreams" with Paul and Goossens both playing a cymbal that has been stuck in an empty beer crate. This band once more lives up to it's killer live reputation.

And so this turned out to be an excellent night with two hard working bands that can please a crowd anytime. Hell yeah!
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Tuesday 15 December 2009

Convincing Album Presentation by El Pino & The Volunteers

This year brought us so many beautiful Dutch new albums. One of them was Rotterdam based band El Pino & the Volunteers. A while ago they released their second album 'The Long-lost Art Of Becoming Invisible' in Rotown Rotterdam and now it finally was time to present it in Amsterdam.

El Pino & the Volunteers at Paradiso Amsterdam, December 10 2009 (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

Between their debut album 'Molten City' and this album they had some band changes causing their sound to change with it. It shifted from americana to a more indie rock sound. This fits in perfectly with most of the other bands on the Excelsior label but can also result in a less distinctive position. But it's clear that they don't have to worry about that. It actually seems to work beneficial since the band plays a diverse set. Beautiful songs with nice harmonies are followed by powerful rock songs. They play very focused and despite the replacements already are fully adapted to each other.

Frontman David Pino is a confident singer and his stage appearance seems to come natural to him. Now and then he asks for a reaction from the crowd or to clap and sing along that most people gladly respond to. It all adds up to a pleasant night and it shouldn't be any problem for the band to win over new fans in their current tour and the upcoming festival season.

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Monday 14 December 2009

Frusciante Supposingly Has Left The Red Hot Chili Peppers

According to MusicRadar a source close to the Red Hot Chili Peppers has stated in an exclusive interview that guitarist John Frusciante has left the band. "He's interested in doing his own thing, his own albums - the whole big rock band machinery just doesn't appeal to him anymore." that source mentions. "Josh Klinghoffer has been playing with the group for a couple of months now". Frusciante left the band before in 1992 but rejoined them in 1999 after fighting a heroin addiction. Read the full story here. Read more!

Wednesday 2 December 2009

The Killers Release Christmas Single "Happy Birthday Guadalupe"

Las Vegas rockers The Killers have released their fourth Christmas single 'Happy Birthday Guadalupe'. It follows previous year's tracks 'Joseph, Better You Than Me' (2006), 'Don't Shoot Me, Santa' (2007) and 'A Great Big Sled' (2006). This year's single also features the bands that support them on their current tour 'Wild Light' and 'Mariachi El Bronx'. The video stars Beverly Hills 90210 Luke Perry. All proceeds will go toward the Global Fund to fight AIDS.

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Album Reviews: What's In A Name?

Some bands are more creative when it comes to their band name instead of their music. This time the short reviews include some interesting bands with even more interesting names and album titles for that matter: El Pino & The Volunteers, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Bombay Bicycle Club and The Phenomenal Hand Clap Band to name a few.

El Pino & The Volunteers - The Long-Lost Art Of Becoming Invisible (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
Nice second album by this Dutch band on the Excelsior label. Fits the Dutch alternative scene very well and do that in a good way. Lost some band members but got some good replacements. Seems like another band that can fill up the gap Johan leaves.

Bombay Bicycle Club - I had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
New indie rock heroes on the block's debut album. Got lots of exposure and even a bit of a hype. But it's really not that good to be getting that much attention. It's not bad don't get me wrong but it's indie rock as we know it.

Sweethead - Sweethead (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Another Queens of the Stone Age member to release an album with a different band this time it's guitarist Troy van Leeuwen. Together with singer Serrina Sims and two member of the Mark Lanegan Band they bring dirty rock with some rough edges. Nothing special but it's a decent album. The blonde Sims with her 'femme fatale' looks could make the difference though.

Cymbals Eat Guitars - Why There Are Mountains (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Catchy indie rock tunes with psychedelic synth. Walls of noise are followed by dreamy sound scapes. Most songs do seem to follow the same recipe making the record a bit long-winded.

Steel Panther - Feel The Steel (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Is it Bon Jovi being the dirty? Or some other rock band from the States with explicit lyrics? Is that guy singing what I think he is? Yes, this is Steel Panther a parody heavy metal band. But they do it in a pretty convincing way. Good for a few laughs and still enjoyable if you're into this.

A Place To Bury Strangers - Exploding Head (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)
Lots of noise but not exciting enough to stay interesting. In the end you keep thinking how much better things could've been.

The Phenomenal Handclap Band - The Phenomenal Handclap Band (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)
Mix of psychedelica and disco. Pretty nice dancable songs but gets pretty old before the record's over.
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Monday 30 November 2009

Blur Release Trailer For Their Film

Blur have released a trailer for their upcoming film 'No Distance Left To Run'. It's a documentary film telling the story of Blur's history. The film will be in cinemas in January 2010. It includes archive footage, interviews and of course lots of music from the early years to their epic return last year on Glastonbury. More info about this film is on their website. Watch the trailer here:

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Wednesday 25 November 2009

No Big Suprises At London Calling

Another stormy November month means another London Calling edition. Which bands will follow into the foot steps of major acts like Blur, Arctic Monkeys, Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand who all started out as unknowns on the festival in the past?

London Calling at Paradiso, November 21 2009

I was still recovering from a very painful back so I was hoping the bands were good enough to make me forget about it. Of course nothing that a few beers can't fix but I was hoping there was more to enjoy than last year.

Beth Jeans Houghton (Ronald Says 5 out of 10)
I read some reviews where people actually liked this but it definitely couldn't please me. This young lady was dressed like a crossing between Amy Whinehouse and a candy store and her band got a little of that too. She seems to be aiming for similar exposure as Lady Gaga but her performance was simply clumsy with a lot of nervous chatting (but that could have been an act). But therefore it was missing any direction and just never really took off. She has a nice voice but I didn't like her songs. But that may be just a matter of taste.

The Boxer Rebellion (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)
Nicely styled and dressed in black they seem to have given it some thought. Too bad they didn't put the same kind of energy and thought into their music. It sounds like U2, Coldplay but never really sparkles. In the end the crowd got bored as well and were looking at their schedules for the next act.

Kid Harpoon (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)
Unfortunately Kid Harpoon was up next. He's a happy camper and it's pretty brave to perform by yourself with an accoustic guitar. He looked like a singer-songwriter with ADHD but in the end his songs didn't really have a lot of variation.

Wild Beasts (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Probably one of the performances many people were looking forward to after their new album got quite some exposure and good reviews. Their music is live still very interesting with nice hooks and plenty to enjoy. The dreamy songs with alternating vocals by Hayden Thorpe and bass player Tom Fleming are quite nice. In the end Thorpe's falsetto does get a bit annoying.

Violens (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
I was pleasently surprised by these guys since I was expecting something totally different but probably had some acts mixed up in my head. Nothing special about their indie rock music but they played it with a nice freshness and in a candid way that worked well. If they can come up with more original songs they may be able to take this a lot further.

Bombay Bicycle Club (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)
Another band that got good reviews for their album and are a band to watch. Their performance was slightly disappointing though. The beginning was especially rough since the sound was just horrible, which is beyond the band's control. After the sound was fixed more or less it still didn't really take off. The songs seem to have enough potential but somehow their performance was a bit pale. The fans that jumped the stage at the end probably will disagree though.

Grammatics (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)
This band wasn't ready for the jump yet. Their music isn't exciting enough and that showed during their performance. They seem to have potential though so maybe next time?

Jack Peñate (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
Not really my cup of tea but this guy had a great performance. His steamy and wild set had everyone jumping up and down even on the balcony. He showed a lot of effort and his cheery pop tunes appealed to a lot of people. His professional act and music is ready for the next step and I'm sure he will return to Paradiso as a single headliner soon.

After this highlight of the evening a sore back, many Heinekens and an early rise the next day made us decide to call it a night. Sorry Pyramidd, MPHO and Phenomenal Handclap Band. Hope to catch you another time.

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Thursday 19 November 2009

Them Crooked Vultures Spread Their Mighty Wings

Much has been written about the three superstars forming Them Crooked Vultures including me. A lot of mystery surrounded their shows but slowly they revealed the songs. So by the time the album was released we knew what the music was about but what would it sound like on a studio album?

Them Crooked Vultures - Them Crooked Vultures (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

Live it sounds great as I was lucky enough to experience twice. Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones simply are the dream rythm section of every rock band. Together with Josh Homme's vocals and stoner guitar sound the songs sound heavy and rough with nice twists. All these elements are still there on the album. Grohl's drum play simply is incredibly strong with killer grooves and rolling fills. A loose style with lots of swing. It's clear he paid close attention to his big example John Bonham. No wonder it works very good with Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones who once again shows why he was so important for the 70s rock band. Songs like 'Scumbag Blues' and 'New Fang' are perfect for this grooving combo.

'Mind Eraser, No Chaser', 'Dead End Friends' and 'Warsaw Or The First Breath You Take After You Give Up' seem to be taken straight of a Queens of the Stone Age album. 'Elephant' is a perfect blend of both worlds.

Not all songs are equally good. 'Interlude With Ludes' is a psychedelic sounding song but seems be going nowhere. Fortunately others are brilliant like my personal favourite 'Gunman' that has all the ingredients for the perfect rock tune.

In the end no one was actually expecting anything ground breaking or special anymore. And I don't think that was ever their objective. This is just the perfect example of a very good rock album. And it's obvious the three musicians had a great time recording it. And so will I listening to it over and over again.
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Thursday 12 November 2009

Editors At Their Best On This Evening

The Editors have come a long way since I saw them years ago for the first time. From an unknown band they grew into a festival headliner with a performance that neared perfection. This was the case last time I saw them on Lowlands. From there on they had the choice of continuing down this road and go mainstream with their third album. Instead they chose a harder but more interesting road: throw out most of the guitar sound and replace it with 80s electronics. This worked out very well on their last album 'In This Light And On This Evening'. But would it work in a live setting together with their old songs?

Editors at 013 Tilburg, November 11 2009 (Ronald Says 9 out of 10)

Before we find out the night starts with two support acts. We make it to the end of the first act 'Wintersleep' which doesn't sound that convincing. Second support act 'The Maccabees' do a better job at warming the crowd and can even pursuade some to clap along. Finally it's lights out and the same gloomy synths can be heard as on the beginning of the new album as the band kicks off with its opening and title track. Dark blue, purple and red lights light the stage most of the time. The big LED display at the back of the stage shows the same colours in changing patterns. It all adds to the atmosphere of the album and works really well on stage too. Slowly they pull you into their dark world. But the warm vocals of Tom Smith are giving it comfort so it will never become threatening. It's like being inside close to a nice and warm cosy fire while outside it's dark, cold and nasty. The synths in the new songs work surprisingly well with the heavy guitars of the older songs and never sound too cold. It's like an extra blanket wrapped around you.

The band play a very well thought set and are very focused. Even when Smith makes a mistake he simply states "I fucked that right up" and waves to the band to start over. His vocals seem to grow during the show and his low and strong voice sounds clear. He's fully absorbed by the music and is only now and then looking for contact with the crowd. This creates a bit of a distance between the band and the fans but it seems to fit this kind of performance. The set is nicely spread over all three albums. Some old songs got new arrangements to fit better into the new sound like in 'Camera' and seem to have grown with the band this way. All time favourites like 'Blood', 'Bones', 'Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors' are regular crowd pleasers but a new song like 'Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool' that seems out of place on the album can soon be added to that list soon. And in the encore one of their first hit songs 'Munich' is easily matched by latest hit 'Papillon'.

Editors have created their own unique sound and made the right choice by going down the risky road. By broadening their horizon they have reached out to new fans without belying themselves or their old fans. I'm afraid this was one of the last times I was able to see them in a smaller club since they seem to be ready to fill every closing headliner slot of the festival season next year and bigger venues after that.

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Friday 6 November 2009

Get Shorty: New Reviews

It's nice to see that so many good albums from my home country The Netherlands are being released. I guess there's a lot of talent in this small place and some bands sure sound promising: DeWolff, C-Mon & Kypski a.o. Catch these and Julian Casablancas, Weezer reviews and more in this times' short reviews!

C-Mon & Kypski - We Are Square (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
The Dutch band are back with a record packed with cathy dancable tunes. Including guest appearences by some of the most swinging Dutch musicians like Kyteman and Benjamin Herman.

Julian Casablancas - Phrazes For The young (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
The last The Strokes member to put out a solo album is singer Casablancas. Strokes like songs covered with lots of 80s electronics make this an enjoyable album.

John Coffey - Vanity (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Another Dutch band but now with trashy rock songs that sound rough and dirty. Not all songs are equally strong but it has some good ones on it.

Hello=Fire - Hello=Fire (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Queens of the Stone Age guitarist/keyboar player Dean Fertita's solo album is a pop/rock album with a mix between Queens of the Stone age like grooves and Beck like songs. The vocals especially come close to Beck in some songs.

DeWolff - Strange Fruits And Undiscovered Plants (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Another band that relies heavily on 70s style rock and this time it's from the south of the Netherlands. They lean more towards psychedelic rock songs. Too bad the vocals aren't too great since it's a good album from a promising new band.

Weezer - Raditude (Ronald Says 5 out of 10)
The world hasn't changed a bit for Weezer since their first record. More of the same teenage pop/rock songs that you already have forgotten about by the time the record has finished.
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Monday 2 November 2009

Róisín Murphy Teaser

No new album is yet to be expected from the currently pregnant Róisín Murphy. However she does tease us with a new song which will be available on November 16. The cover of the single "Orally Fixated" is pretty teasing as well so I didn't want to keep it from you. The new song is already streaming from her MySpace page and sounds very catchy. Read more!

Cosmic Egg Needs Salt For Better Taste

No doubt everyone is aware of Wolfmother's return. After their solid performance in the Melkweg I was eagerly awaiting the new album 'Cosmic Egg'. Appearently named after a yoga pose I was hoping it would be anything but too relaxed and would be a steaming hot rock album like their live performances.

Wolfmother - Cosmic Egg (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)

Andrew Stockdale and his newly formed band seem eager and excited to continue the success of the first album. That debut was a smashing album full of 70s inspired rock. Big in sound and ambition without getting cheesy. With this new album it's interesting to see if Stockdale could take it up a level and turn the concept of the debut into an instant classic on this one. All the ingredients (potential, talent and a solid band) were there to come up with a killer rock album. Too bad he didn't succeed. 'Cosmic Egg' isn't all that bad but it certainly isn't close to be regarded a killer album. Instead it continues the road of the debut album without exploring new directions or trying to lift it to a higher plan. Or to cut it short: it's more of the same.

The album doesn't start off badly. Opening track 'California Queen' is a good rock song with a nice groove. What follows are more songs with the same recipe. 'White Feather' has an AC/DC kind of guitar riff and feel but without the power of the famous hard rock band from the same continent. That seems to be missing from the album compared to the previous one. It's all more polished and less pompous but therefore less convincing. A song like 'Violence Of The Sun' has more electronic influences giving it a bit more modern sound but somehow never really takes off. The bonus track 'Back Round' which was available as a free download a while ago turned out to be a great teaser but the album simply just doesn't live up to that promise.

Fans of old style rock like me can amd probably still will enjoy the album a lot. Somehow it just feels that it could have been so much better. It's less Zeppelin this time and more Black Sabbath and sometimes it's almost like you can hear The Prince Of Darkness himself singing. The record simply is lacking songs that are above avarage let alone of the same level as rock classics like 'War Pigs' or 'Paranoid'.
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Thursday 29 October 2009

Hairy And Loud Night

I vaguely heard of The Parlor Mob before but never listened to their music. I heard good things about them and they were sharing the stage with Black Stone Cherry in a double bill concert. So I expected a good solid rock night!

The Parlor Mob at Melkweg Amsterdam, October 26 2009 (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
The only thing I was disappointed about was them only playing for 30 minutes. I expected them to play for about an hour since it looked like they weren't just the support act. Their music is heavenly inspired by big 70s rock bands like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. Heavy grooves and guitar licks combined with bluesy tunes. Singer Mark Melicia has a high pitch voice that reminds me of The Mars Volta now and then. They waste little time in between the songs to make full use of the time they have. Their album 'And You Were A Crow' that I bought afterwards is equally solid and will spend many hours in my CD player.

Black Stone Cherry at Melkweg Amsterdam, October 26 2009 (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)
Unfortunately I forgot my ear plugs tonight since it turned out that I really needed them. I like this band's music. Their powerful no nonsense rock songs are perfect for a hard rocking live performance. And hard rocking it was! Just too bad they could have done with a little less. Lots of long hair flipping, fist in the air, stick twirling and such turned it all into a cheesy performance. A ceaseless wall of noise kept pounding the crowd until they were numb. This was even more appearent when they played a piece of "Sweet Home Alabama" that had lost all its subtlety and strength compared to the original. Drum player John Fred Young has an enormous amount of energy and keeps pounding his drum kit. Too bad his only volume level is "as loud as possible" and he keeps filling every gap with fills and notes. I'm sure the boys can play well and I don't mind an energetic rock show. Except they forget that the primary focus should be on the music.

So in the end I could have used more of The Parlor Mob and less Black Stone Cherry.

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Wednesday 28 October 2009

Living Colour Still Colourful

Many people may have missed the new Living Colour album 'Chair In The Doorway' a short while ago. Somehow this top band who were top of the bill in the late 80s has dropped off the radar. They have been back together for quite a few years but somehow people fail to pick that up. This can't be because they're not meaningful anymore since nothing can be further from the truth. They still make relevant and powerful rock songs that are worth listening to.

Living Colour - The Chair In The Doorway (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

They still give lively rock performances as I experienced a year ago and definitely haven't lost that appetite and drive on this new album. On the contrary. They seem more focused than ever and the album both sounds angry and hard rocking. The sound is very diverse as we're used of the foursome and with the introduction of more electronic and experimental sounds into their music on 'Collideøscope' they have enriched it even more.

Vernon Reid's guitar is as sharp as ever and the songs are strongly founded by the killer rythm section consisting of drummer Will Calhoun and bassist Doug Wimbish. Singer Corey Glover finishes it off with his powerful and strong voice to deliver one of the best rock albums of the year. These are just great musicians who are a pleasure to listen to.

They seem to have come to the point that for so many people is inevitable: dreams turned out to be illusions, you thought you had the answers, but you're left with only more questions. "Party is over, the circus has left town, it's the morning after, and you're coming down" Glover sings in 'Method'. You want to leave but where do you go? So you're stuck behind the door. "Then there's the chair" he sings in 'The Chair'. This doesn't lead to a negative album but definitely an angry one. And one with killer grooves ('Young Man', 'Out Of My Mind'), great guitar riffs and solos ('Decadence', 'Behind The Sun') and some good old funky tunes ('Bless Those (Little Annie's Prayer)'). There's also room for a bit more psychedelica in 'Not Tomorrow' and some good old plain fun in hidden track 'Asshole'.

So I advise you to check out this album since it's everything a rock album should be and a lot more.
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Tuesday 27 October 2009

Puscifer New Video "The Mission"

Puscifer, Tool singer Maynard James Keenan's side project are about to release a new EP titled 'C is for (Please Insert Sophomoric Genitalia Reference Here) E.P.' on November 10. Now they have released the first video for "The Mission". Click "Read more" to see the full track list. Click here to read more about the EP.

01. Polar Bear
02. The Mission (Renholder Mix) (feat. Milla Jovovich)
03. Momma Sed (Alive @ Club Nokia)
04. Vagina Mine (Alive @ Club Nokia)
05. Potions (Deliverance Mix)
06. The Humbling River
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Friday 23 October 2009

Them Crooked Vultures Reveal Album Details

Them Crooked Vultures announced the release of a first single "New Fang" on October 26. They also finally revealed the release of their self titled debut album on November 17. Click "Read More" for the track list and here for more information on the album release. Preorder the album here.
Full track listing:

No One Loves Me & Neither Do I
Mind Eraser, No Chaser
New Fang
Dead End Friends
Scumbag Blues
Interlude With Ludes
Warsaw or The First Breath You Take After You Give Up
Spinning In Daffodils

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Album Reviews - Thank God For Luisterpaal!

I buy lots of music and I have an ever growing wish list of albums that I want to buy someday. But there are too many albums coming out that I want to give a listen and then maybe put on my blog. So I use many other sources that I use to listen to new music but my main source is VPRO's Luisterpaal. I love it! And with their iPhone application I now listen to new albums when I ride my bike to and from work. So it's no coincidence that many albums I review have been on Luisterpaal. And here's a new bunch.

Daily Bread - Well, You're Not Invited (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Fresh sounding debut album by this young Dutch band from the north. Energetic 80s inspired synth pop that grabs you and doesn't let go. They leave you no other choice than to start dancing!

Raveonettes - In And Out Of Control (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)
More indie pop by the Raveonettes. Nothing wrong with it but just more of the same.

Fuck Buttons - Tarot Sport (Ronald Says 8 out of 10
More dance than noise but very catchy. Nicely produced songs that should get your feet moving in no time!

Air - Love 2 (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)
More boring poppy synth songs by Air. After finishing the record I can't even remember what I was listening to.

Fu Manchu - Signs Of Infinite Power (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Solid stoner grooves by these stoner veterans. Following the usual recipe but still rocking.

Twilight: New Moon - Original Soundtrack (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Much better than the avarage soundtrack. Stars from the alternative scene like Muse, Editors, Thom Yorke, Death Cab For Cutie, The Killers and Grizzly Bear all contributed to the dark album. Not all songs are direct hits but all in all it's a largely enjoyable record.

Rammstein - Liebe Ist Für Alle Da (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
After hearing the first single 'Pussy' I wasn't expecting much from the record. Fortunately it's the worst song on it (and a really bad one). The rest of the album sounds a lot more aggressive but very much like any other album of the German band.
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Monday 19 October 2009

Joe Lovano: Five Star Performance

Joe Lovano is one of the greatest tenor saxophone players right now. So when he was gonna play the Bimhuis I didn't hesitate to get tickets and check him out with one of my best buddies. And he didn't let us down.

Joe Lovano Us Five at Bimhuis Amsterdam, October 16 2009 (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

He may not be the youngest himself anymore but you're just as young as the musicians to play with he must have thought. So he gathered some really talented young musicians for his Us Five project: Esperanza Spalding on bass, James Weidman on piano and Otis Brown III and Francisco Mela on drums. The result was a highly energetic and diverse set. The master himself left plenty of space to his young band members but always in control.

With two drummers you never know how it will turn out. Sometimes they will just play almost the same parts which doesn't really add a lot. This time fortunately these great drummers with different styles were playing around each other all the time, challenging the other one and "fighting" drum solo duels. All musicians were challenged to give their best and the young cats took this chance with both hands. Esperanza Spalding, the little lady she is, was flying over her bass and was swinging with it like it was a feather light instrument. James Weidman seemed to have the most modest role and didn't get as much solo time as the rest. He did make sure everyone could fall back into the theme at the end of their solo.

Joe Lovano himself showed why he is one of the greatest. His sublime solos sounded powerful with lots of variation. He played on his aulochrome which consists of two soprano saxophones that can be played together or seperately. It results in a peculiar sound and a funny twist to the songs.

The last song before the encore "Viva Caruso", a swinging composition with a Latin feel, offers a last chance for all the musicians to showcase their talent. After the encore the fivesome receive a well deserved standing ovation. What a great week for music it has been!

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Friday 16 October 2009

Wolfmother Has Epic Return

Wolfmother conquered the world a few years ago with their 2005 debut album. Blowing the roof off every venue they played with their 70s inspired heavy rocking songs. But then two of the three band members left leaving Andrew Stockdale all by himself. But then he found new friends to play with and they recorded a new album. With all these changes are they still able to rock everyone's socks off?

Wolfmother at Melkweg Amsterdam, October 15 2009 (Ronald Says 9 out of 10)

They play in the smallest hall of the Melkweg which makes it an intimate show. When they take the stage and start to play they immediately take away every doubt, if there was any. Driving force Stockdale found some fine musicians that are able to lay down a solid base for the heavy rockers. Old and new songs of the upcoming album 'Cosmic Egg' alternate and go together perfectly. The change from two to three fellow band members is a smart choice. It gives Stockdale the change to play extensive solos without loosing memento. And so he does. Some songs are lengthened quite a bit by guitar fireworks. His voice is powerful and it's remarkable how this skinny curly head can produce such heavy rock vocals.

Now and then Stockdale looks into the crowd with a smile on his face and gives a shy "Thank you". It must be great for him to play the old songs live again and to present the new songs to their fans. Keyboard player Ian Peres adds a little psychedelica to the sound which works brilliantly. It contributes even more to the 70s feel of the music. The gig seems to be over in no time and the crowd loved every minute of it. But this rock train isn't gonna stop before playing a final encore with my personal favourite 'Joker and the Thief'. This may have been the last chance we got to see this great rock band in such a small venue 'cause they are ready to take over the world once again.

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Editors Embrace The Dark

Editors released two strong albums so far turning them into a big venue band. Their live performances neared perfection and a big wall of dark guitar riffs and the low voice of singer Tom Smith became a familiar brand. For their third album they decided to do things differently.

Editors - In This Light And On This Evening (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

Immediately the first second on the album reveals what's in store: dark 80s style synths and the even darker voice of Smith. They have decided that guitars aren't cool anymore and move even closer to the band they are compared with all the time to their own discomfort: Joy Division. However this comparison doesn't do them enough justice. It's true like many have mentioned in other reviews that you can hear traces of New Order, Eurythmics and even A-Ha. But that only has to do with the effect the synths create and the occiasional falsetto vocals. They have definitely created their own sound which seems darker than ever and would have been dead cold if it wasn't for Smith whose vocals add some warmth to the compositions.

Appearently they got inspiration from the recording sessions in London and the way that city looks differently on particular moments (and there's your album title). London must look very dark at certain times. The album opener and title track 'In This Light And On This Evening' sounds very threatening and slowly builds up like more songs on the album ('The Big Exit', 'Like Treasure'). Unlike 'The Boxer' and 'Walk The Fleet Road' which are gloomy songs perfectly fit for these grey rainy autumn days. First single 'Papillon' is more up tempo and is one of the stronger songs. The second half of the album is a bit less inspired than the beginning but all nine songs form a consistent whole. The only song that feels out of place is the strangely titled 'Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool' which sounds more like an 80s pop song.

Editors have taken a huge risk by taking this direction which alone is admirable for a band with their status. But they pull if off by delivering an album that definitely grows on you. It's going to be interesting to see how this will sound live with their older songs. So I'm surely looking forward to their gig in November in 013.
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Tuesday 13 October 2009

Johan's Ending

12.5 years of the Dutch band Johan: four albums filled with beautiful songs and many great concerts. Then all of a sudden they announced the end of the band. Singer Jacco de Greeuw decided it was time for a change before things started to get lame. Their support tour for their latest album '4' turned into a farewell tour and this concert into my last Johan gig.

Johan at Paradiso Amsterdam, October 9 2009 (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)

So a bit heavy hearted we headed down to our rock temple. They were off to a rough start. Somehow the balance wasn't right and singer de Greeuw even sounded out of tune now and then. This made it a bit hard to get into it. They were never the band that would blow the roof off but instead had to win you over by their stunning pop songs and beautiful harmonies. But things improved after a few songs and eventually I found myself once again in the world of Johan.

They played a good overview of their albums with a slight focus on the last one. With that many years between that few albums it's striking how nicely all songs blend together. Not one feels out of place and all of them could have been instant classics easily. Of course some of their hit songs like 'Tumble and Fall', 'Day is Done' and 'She's Got a Way With Men' are better known and result in more feedback from the crowd. But these fine musicians make every song sound like a hit. Bass player Diets Dijkstra gets the chance to sing one of his own songs but this is the only one that doesn't fit in. The style is different and Dijkstra isn't a gifted singer like de Greeuw or guitar player Maarten Kooijman. The last one gets to sing his song 'Maria' that also ended up on the last album. Drummer Jeroen Kleijn is always great to watch with his relaxed style that I admire a lot.

Such a shame we have to make it without this band that can be regarded as one of Holland's top bands. But I understand de Greeuw when he's saying he wants to continue without all the expectations that come with Johan and before it starts to feel like a trick. Instead he wants to continue with a clean sheet again and come back with hopefully even better and newer music.

After one and half hour it's time to say goodbye. Still it doesn't feel right to bid them farewell. Fortunately a while ago when I already had these tickets they announced they will give a very final concert in December in the same venue so I couldn't resist to buy tickets to that show as well to experience a bit of Johan magic for the last time.
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Monday 12 October 2009

Alice In Chains Chases Away The Demons

Alice in Chains found a new singer in William DuVall and now there's a new record. It took 14 years to recover from the death of singer Layne Staley. Where do you go in a music world that has changed so drastically? And how do you continue without a singer that is so important and identifying?

Alice in Chains - Black Gives Way To Blue (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

Not only was Staley their fellow band member but also a long time friend. So it wasn't just about replacing the band's singer but also a process of continuing without a close friend. When they added DuVall this was their incentive: finding a singer so they could continue making music with this band. And they have done so with this new album. DuVall doesn't try to imitate Staley but his vocals still come close now and then. More importantly his voice goes perfectly with their powerful and dark music. The harmonies with Cantrell's vocals and guitar sound are great as in their old days. The album itself is all about picking up their lives after loosing their friend and how to make it through a dark time.

That dark time is the part that dominates the album mostly. Dark but strong grooves (like "Check My Brain" and "Lesson Learned") alternate with beautiful accoustic ballads (like "Your Decision", "When The Sun Rose Again"). And some tunes clearly carry the distinctive and characteristic Alice in Chains mark like "A Looking in View". They seem determined to get even with their demons and chase them away forever. The album's first lines are "Hope, a new beginning. Time, to start living" in opening track "All Secrets Known". At the same time they deliver one of the best rock albums of the moment. Together with their strong live performances they have stepped out of the dark and into the light. And so the future looks bright for Alice In Chains and black gives way to blue: "Lay down, black gives way to blue. Lay down, I'll remember you". I'm sure Staley will approve and can rest in peace.
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Thursday 8 October 2009

New video Foo Fighters "Wheels"

Foo Fighters have released the video to their new single "Wheels". The song will be on their upcoming greatest hits album that will be released November 3rd. The album will also have another new song "Word Forward".

Read more for video and the full track listing of the album.

“All My Life”
“Best Of You”
“The Pretender”
“My Hero”
“Learn To Fly”
“Times Like These”
“Big Me”
“Long Road To Ruin”
“This is a Call”
“Skin and Bones”
“Word Forward”
“Everlong (acoustic)”
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Wednesday 7 October 2009

Big Surprises at Pearl Jam Concert

Pearl Jam had a couple of surprises up their sleeves at their LA concert. They played the song "Hunger Strike" in the original Temple of the Dog formation with Chris Cornell joining them. And there's more!

Also during "Alive" Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell showed up for the solo.

According to Rolling Stone Cornell and the other old Soundgarden members all were present at the show to watch Pearl Jam with their former band member drummer Matt Cameron.

Read the full Rolling Stone story here.
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Monday 5 October 2009

New Stereophonics video "Innocent"

The Stereophonics have been in the studio and have a new album coming up 16th of November called "Keep Calm and Carry On". Although they don't make any world shocking tunes I've always liked their bluesy rock sound and Kelly Jones' voice. This is their new single "Innocent" which is a bit less rock and more pop than we're used to. Hopefully the new album will offer more excitement and a few surprises as well. What do you think?

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Friday 2 October 2009

The Short Reviews: Diverse Companionship

Lots of albums coming out and so little time again. So here are some more short reviews of some very diverse albums by Das Pop, New Cool Collective, The Big Pink, Monsters of Folk and Moss among others.

Das Pop - Das Pop (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
They had trouble releasing this album but it was worth the wait. Nicely produced (by magic duo Stephen and David Dewaele from Soulwax) album with catchy pop songs put Das Pop back on the map.

New Cool Collective ft. Los Papines & Mapacha Africa - Sugar Protocol (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
Another great album by Benjamin Herman's New Cool Collective. This time with more focus on African and Cuban influences because of guest musicians Los Papines (Cuba) and Mapacha Africa (Kenya). So many musicians and still the songs are able to breath. Would love to see all three bands live one day!

The Big Pink - A Brief History of Love (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Heavily inspired by the 80s "shoegazer" music. This means noise, electronics and pounding drums but then in a modern way.

Monsters of Folk - Monsters of Folk (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
"Supergroup" or not? Jim James from My Morning Jacket, Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis from Bright Eyes and M. Ward joined forces on this highly acclaimed album. The new Traveling Wilburys according to some but maybe that's too much credit. Still a well written album.

Action Park - When Everyone Else Is Gone (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Nice rock songs with ringing guitar riffs. Production isn't great but good album by this Dutch band from Utrecht.

Baddies - Do The Job (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
It's rock 'n roll baby and I like it! Fresh sounding British band that's more rock than brit pop.

Moss - Never Be Scared/Don't Be A Hero (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
Very good album by this Dutch band. Diverse songs with nice arrangements. A bit of rock, a bit of pop. Firm rock songs followed by beautiful harmonies in others.

Girls - Album (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
The songs were supposingly written while on drugs. It sounds very British from time to time but a little more rough around the edges. Not all songs are great but still a nice album.

Alberta Cross - The Broken Side of Time (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
Nice rock songs with gospel and soul influences by this band from New York. Especially the vocals of Petter Ericson Stakee makes this a great album.

Mika - The Boy Who Knew Too Much (Ronald Says 5 out of 10)
I could barely handle his debut album "Life in Cartoon Motion" but this one is too much. Super sweet pop meets musical and taken way over the top. This time the cartoon figures are psychos. Think Happy Tree Friends on speed that will crack your teeth enamel. Awful!
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