Tuesday 31 March 2009

It sure is Blitz!

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz! (Ronald Says 4 out of 5)

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs from New York had their third album leaked on the internet which is pretty common nowadays. Maybe all bands should just upload their new album to their site since eventually it will end up there anyway. I heard many good things about this album and listened to it today.

From the first track "Zero" on it's clear that the album is heavily inspired by 80's punk rock. Sometimes it has a gloomy dark sound ("Runaway") and other times it has loud rock songs with heavy synths ("Heads Will Roll" and "Soft Shock"). After this impressive start they slow down in the beautiful ballad "Skeleton". Singer Karen O sounds modest on this track compared to the previous ones where she shouts and screams. On "Dragon Queen" they turn to disco and take it quiet again on "Hysteric". Final track "Little Shadow" sounds kind of psychedelic. Once the album's over you're wondering what you've been listening to. They have explored new directions and the album sounds very diverse. But it still is a complete album and no song is out of place. Besides Karen O going all the way both drummer Brian Chase and guitarist Nick Zinner get the chance to show their stuff and do a fine job. No need to get bored with this album for a long time.
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Drummer wanted

Jimmy Chamberlin recently left the Smashing Pumpkins so now Billy Corgan and Co. are looking for a replacement. Today they announced they will be auditioning for a new drummer on April 10 in LA. Anyone interested in signing up? I still haven't mastered Geek USA myself so I think I'll pass. Read more!

Monday 30 March 2009

Festival Season is warming up

The sun is coming out and things are warming up. This is bad news for my winter depression and good news for my temper. It also means the summer festivals are completing their line-ups or are announcing more and more bands. And of course I'll be checking out some of them!

Festivals are all about music, drinking, loosing sleep and good times but also in my case traditions. That means we usually go to the same festivals, in our case Rock Werchter in Belgium and Lowlands over here. I'd love to go to more festivals but my wallet won't allow me too so I have to make choices. A lot of festivals also offer day tickets which is more wallet friendly and in my case better for my health. Some years ago we started attending the North Sea Jazz Festival. And after a break from Pinkpop for many years we returned for one day last year. We enjoyed it a lot so this year we go to Pinkpop for one day again to see The Boss performing like many others.

Of course there's more to enjoy on Pinkpop that day including Elbow, Just Jack, The Killers and Chris Cornell. Although the last one was really disappointing in his last show. North Sea Jazz announced some names but will announce more in May.

Rock Werchter has a killer line-up once again including Oasis, Prodigy, Coldplay, The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs and regular guests Metallica. I'm particularly interested in Bloc Party (great show a while ago), Kings of Leon (great last album "Only By The Night"), Nick Cave (missed Grinderman last year), 2ManyDJs (on the main stage!) and The Mars Volta (still not sure what to think of them).

Lowlands is always one of the last festivals and like to keep us waiting in anticipation so they still have to announce most of the line up. Although they already announced some great acts like Arctic Monkeys, Prodigy, Basement Jaxx and Bloc Party.

So there's plenty to look forward to but some thing's are for sure: we'll be drinking too much, lacking of sleep and having a blast!
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Sunday 29 March 2009

Nothing bad on the horizon for U2

U2 - No Line on the Horizon (Ronald Says 4 out of 5)
U2's new album has been out now for a few weeks and I had the chance to give it a proper listen. After all this years are the Irish super band still able to impress and surprise?

Since "Achtung Baby" they haven't really produced an album that was outstanding. The production of "No Line On The Horizon" wasn't really a walk in the park. They started out with star producer Rick Rubin but unhappy with the results they started over with their usual producer duo Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno. Listening to their first single "Get On Your Boots" may give you the impression that this time again nothing spectacular was produced. But a proper listen of the album learns that the other songs are actually a lot better.

The opening track that carries the same title as the album has a sort of dramatic sound to it. But it illustrates that this time they have found a good balance between their old sound and new influences. Songs like "Magnificent", "Stand Up Comedy" and "FEZ - Being Born" promise to be great stadium songs and will definitely sound massive in their upcoming 360 tour. Other songs sound intimate and fragile like "White As Snow". But most of all it all sounds very U2. The Edge puts his signature riffs and solos on the steady basis of rhythm section Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton. And of course Bono's unmistakable voice. In an interview in Rolling Stone Larry Mullen Jr. said "of course it can't go on forever" meaning that he'd rather stop when they're still on top of it all and U2 is actually still meaningful. With this album they will definitely stay on top for a few more years.
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Friday 27 March 2009

Ladies & gentlemen, the presidents of the USA

The Presidents of the United States of America in Paradiso Amsterdam, 20 March 2009 (Ronald says 4 out of 5)

Whenever you're feeling down put on one of The Presidents of the USA's albums. It's a definite upper. Their music is full of positive energy and so are their shows. So it's a no brainer when they visit my town to go see them.

So on a Friday night it was time to celebrate the weekend with this feel good band. And they got the party started right from the start. Singer Chris Ballew was cracking jokes in between songs to add to the good vibe. Even when people in the crowd were tossing parts of plush animals onto the stage (the support act of the night was called "Stuffed Animal") he joked about it and even added an additional verse to the song "Kitty" singing about poor old teddy without arms and legs. They told the crew to take it easy on the stage divers and let them take their dive into the crowd. This is a good example of what a PUSA gig is all about.

But let's not forget the music. Of course they were playing their big hits like "Kitty", "Peaches", "Lump" and "We're Not Gonna Make It" but also some more rare songs and songs of their latest album "These Are The Good Times People". They all blend in together nicely making a good set that never falls short. It's also nice to see that all you need is a drum player (Jason Finn), guitar player (Andrew McKeag) and bass player (Ballew) to lay down a solid grooving sound. Maybe the trio setup is one of their strengths: it leaves enough room for everyone to go full force. And full force ahead it is almost for the whole show. Before you know it they have finished their encore to leave everyone in very good spirits. What else can you ask from a band?
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Chickenfoot going on tour

I heard a couple of songs this week from the super band Chickenfoot. It sounds like good old rock 'n roll. Never heard of em? You probably heard of one of the band members: Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Joe Satriani (Guitar hero), Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony (both Van Halen).

Their album is expected to be released somewhere between April and June. And this week they anounced they will also be touring Europe this summer. At that time it didn't mention anything about coming over to the Netherlands but today I found out they will be playing over here in June: 26th of June at the Waerdse Tempel in Heerhugowaard and also on the festival Bosbop. Check out the complete schedule over here. Never been to that venue Waerdse Tempel but it may be worth the ride to check these guys out. Tickets will start selling tomorrow at 45 euros. That may be a bit steep but it may be worth it to see this guys rock the house!
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Thursday 26 March 2009

Soundgarden reuniting?

Rolling Stone reports that Soundgarden nearly reunited at one of Tom Morello's Justice Tour stops. Only one member was missing: Chris Cornell. Worthless to say he's definitely a must have for a proper reunion. Maybe after all the negative reviews and opinions about Cornell's latest solo album he may be in for some good old rock! He sure would make me a happy camper. Read more!

Monday 9 March 2009

Partying Cuban Style

Los Van Van in Paradiso Amsterdam, 9 March 2009 (Ronald says 3 out of 5)

This Cuban band founded by famous Cuban musician Juan Formell is one of the most reknown Cuban bands and maybe one of the most meaningful. It has been around since 1969 and had many different line-ups. Musically is stays close to its Cuban roots playing many Afro-Cuban style songs like salsa, timba, son and cha-cha-cha. As a drummer I'm very interested in Afro-Cuban music because of the great rhythms and percussion but also because its music reflects a country with beautiful people. I've visited the island twice and it has certainly captured my heart. So I was really looking forward to this performance.

The band has a big line-up with three keyboard players, a couple of horns, bass, guitar, violin, three singers, guiro, conga player (or conguero) and a very busy drum player, band leader Samuel Formell the son of Juan Formell, playing drum set, timbales, bongos and some other percussion instruments. As a result the mix (of all the instruments) needs close attention however this unfortunately is not the case. A band like this has many high pitch sounds and few low but this is not balanced properly. The result is a lot of noise and a very chaotic sound and many instruments (like congas and violin) can't be heard at all.

This doesn't matter though. The crowd loves the swinging songs and it doesn't take long to transform the venue into a tropical party. The band seems to enjoy it as well and from time to time people from the audience start dancing the salsa on stage. For a moment it was summer in Amsterdam...
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Monday 2 March 2009

Eagles Flying High!

Eagles Of Death Metal in Paradiso Amsterdam, 2 March 2009 (Ronald says 3 out of 5)

If you don't know this band don't get fooled by their name. It's only rock 'n roll and I like it or what would music sound like when The Eagles crossed with death metal. I'm not sure if this is it but it's certainly a lot of fun.

Josh Homme (Queens Of The Stone Age) and Jesse Hughes write the music and Jesse performs it live with a band. Too bad Josh Homme is never there but it's a fact that Jesse and the rest of the band can do it on their own. Jesse is an (over) enthusiastic front man that sure knows how to have a good time. The way he moves on stage can be really funny and he interacts a lot with the crowd now and then taking off his sunglasses and continuously smoking joints (ain't Holland great?). But this doesn't mean the music is of minor importance. Their last album "Heart On" is actually one of my favourite albums of 2008 and live most of the songs even sound better. This band knows perfectly how to please a crowd and to have fun themselves.
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