Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Cooler Than Cool

Jules Deelder with New Cool Collective in de Kleine Komedie,
Amsterdam on 28 April 2009
(Ronald Says 5 out of 5)

I've written a couple of times before about New Cool Collective and their swinging music. This time I could check them out in a theater. Like I mentioned before it's weird to watch a band play while everyone's sitting down. But this time Dutch writer Jules Deelder joined them on stage.

And this combination works really well. Deelder is a big jazz fan and regularly playing records in jazz clubs. He's also an amateur drum player so a snare drum was available on stage as well for him to join in on the fun. Of course he's no match for the great musicians of the band but that wasn't the idea. The band played many songs of their latest album and Deelder read some stories and poems.

Of course he did this in his typical manner which is in a smart suit (like the band), funky sun glasses and Rotterdam accent. The Rohypnol cough sirop story is just hilarious! All band members get to play their solos as expected and especially Anton Goudsmit treated us with some fireworks. So again it was a great night. But next time I would like to see them back in a club where I can enjoy them in front of the stage, zipping beers and shaking my booty!
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Monday, 27 April 2009

Hayes' Finest Rock Tunes

John Hayes Project in Café Spinners Cuijk, 25 April 2009 (Ronald Says 4 out of 5)

During my teenage years I grew up in a small town called Cuijk that I still visit occasionally. A friend of mine there told me I should really come over 25th of April when John Hayes would play a local bar. And so I did!

The only thing I knew about John Hayes was that he used to play in the great funk rock band Mother's Finest. Now he's playing with the "John Hayes Project". His regular bass player was replaced with Barend Courbois, best known for playing with Dutch rock band Vengeance. To my surprise I found Gus Genser sitting behind the drum kit who used to play for Herman Brood's Wild Romance. This promised to be a loud evening. And in the beginning it sure was. The volume was way too much for the small bar. Fortunately they turned it down after the first set. The band sure didn't. They rocked hard with great grooves and Hayes was playing some killer riffs. Courbois was just amazing on bass playing solid rock riffs and funky slapping beats. Genser was doing what he's always doing: hitting hard and giving it all!

The second set they had a surprise and a guest vocalist joined in. I didn't catch his name and wasn't able to find out anymore since my good friend Mr. Beer needed my attention (if anyone knows contact me). However this turned out to be the best part of the show. It was a blend of Peppers and Rage Against the Machine and Hayes could devote himself to great solo's and riffs. After the second break they played one more song and called it a night. But what a great night! This band deserves a bigger stage to show their stuff.

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Thursday, 23 April 2009

Wolfmother is laying Cosmic Egg

Wolfmother has risen from its ashes like a phoenix and Andrew Stockdale is working on a new album with three new band members.

It's the follow up to their debut album "Wolfmother" from 2006 and will be entitled "Cosmic Egg". A new song "Back Round" became available for download on their website a while ago. Other songs are "White Feather", "Violence In The Sun" and the title song "Cosmic Egg". Stockdale told NME that he is hoping the album will be out in September. They have been playing live gigs as "White Feather" to test the new songs.

Here's amateur footage of another new song "Pilgrim":

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Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Ronald Scribbles

It's time to scribble! This time there's news about Dead Weather, Iron Maiden, Coachella and more.

Iron Maiden's "Flight 666" doc takes off
The Iron Maiden documentary "Flight 666" will debut 21 April worldwide. DVD and CD packages will follow.

Jack White's Dead Weather played first gig in New York
Jack White and his fellow band members of the new formed band Dead Weather performed live for the very first time at New York’s Bowery Ballroom. Watch some video's below. They have also announced a tour.

WFMU's Free Music Archive goes online
WFMU, a radio station in America, has launched its Free Music Archive. It's an interactive library of high-quality, legal audio downloads.

Coachella awards
The last gigs have been played on 2009's edition of Coachella. So it's time to wrap it up. Who was hot and who was not? And who had the worst make-up?

Franz Ferdinand to release split-single with Dutch band
Franz Ferdinand and Dutch band De Kift will release a spit-single together with both bands covering songs of each other.
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Friday, 17 April 2009

Super Furry Animals Light Years Ahead?

Super Furry Animals - Dark Days/ Light Years
(Ronald Says 3 out of 5)

With this band you never know what you're going to get. Next to masterpieces like "Rings Around The World" are albums that just don't do it for me. Let's see where this album fits in.

The new album of the Welsh band Super Furry Animals starts off pretty interesting. Nice funky sound and falsetto vocals blend into some 70s style rock jam. Accompanied by typical SFA lyrics the opening is promising. However then the tracks turn into more experimental tunes that don't seem to go anywhere. They find their climax in "Inaugural Trams" that's stuffed with electronic effects.

Then halfway the album things change around and it all becomes more coherent. Especially tracks like "Helium Hearts", "White Socks / Flip Flops" and "Where Do You Wanna Go" are typical SFA pop tunes although these sound all very alike. This makes the album not balanced enough. They do find the right balance in the last track "Pric" which is a great 10 minute psychedelic journey. Although not a masterpiece it still is a nice album. But it may stay in your cabinet after a few listens.
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Thursday, 16 April 2009

David Lynch Directs New Moby Video

One of my favourite directors, David Lynch, directed the video for Moby's new song "Shot in the back of the head".

It's the first single to come of his new album "Wait For Me" that's scheduled for release in June. According to Moby David Lynch was an inspiration for the album. The video is an animation but is a genuine Lynch production. Both the music and video are disturbing and the video is dark and mysterious. Exactly why I like Lynch's work. Watch the video:

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Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Ronald Scribbles

From now on I will give an overview of some music related topics I found on the internet and link to them. So check back regularly to see if you didn't miss anything! This time news about Moonalice (who?), Pearl Jam, Phil Spector, Eminem and the ZZ Top/Aerosmith tour.

Moonalice gets 3000 downloads
Moonalice is a band not many people heard of. They held a concert and posted all songs on Twitter instantly. It gave them quite some exposure.

Pearl Jam working on album, film and tour
Pearl Jam has been busy lately working on a film and new album. Now they have announced a tour as well.

Producer Phil Spector found guilty in murder retrial
Famous producer Phil Spector has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of actress Lana Clarkson.

Aerosmith and ZZ Top announce summer tour dates
Aerosmith and ZZ Top are hitting the together and have announced the US tour dates. What about Europe guys?

Eminem to make live return in May
Eminem will be performing live at the MTV Movie awards on May 31.
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Sunday, 12 April 2009

Maria Drives Wild

Drive Like Maria in Paradiso Amsterdam, 10 April 2009
(Ronald says 4 out of 5)
I recently heard a song "I'm On a Train" of a new band called "Drive Like Maria". It was a very catchy rock tune. When I listened to their debut album "Elmwood" I was pleasantly surprised. Great grooves and good rock songs inspired by 70s Led Zeppelin rock mixed with Queens of the Stone Age type riffs and vocals. So it was time to check them out live.

They are a three piece Belgian/Dutch band and drummer Bjorn Awouters at the same time is also taking care of vocals. They climb the stage wearing helmets while the Western style song "Elmwood 6H25" is playing so they're ready for some action. Guitar player Nitzann Hoffmann fires up her guitar and they're off with the instrumental track "Born on the 4th of July" which is the same combination from the album.

Then it's off with the helmets but they stay on the edge. It's raw, it's loud, it's pumping guitars, rolling drum fills, long hair and it's great. After a couple of songs Guido Elshof joins them on stage and replaces singer Awouters on drums who straps on a guitar and moves to the front of the stage to join Hofmann and bass player Robin van Saaze. Even though he manages to sing and play the drums at the same time nicely it does seem that they even rock harder from then on. Especially at the end of the set when they play the best songs of the album like "So"and "Fistful of Bananas".

Watching this band makes you think you're back in the 70s. Even their clothes could have been bought thirty years ago. But this doesn't mean it's outdated. It sounds refreshing and honest. It's going to be interesting to see how this band can develop and grow. If they can keep this up we've got ourselves a kick ass rock band. They might be driving straight to the top at full speed so those helmets may come in handy.
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Thursday, 9 April 2009

Cover songs: make or break?

There are quite a few famous bands that cover other artist's songs. Some songs work out quite good, other times you wish they hadn't touched the original.

Why would any established band or artist do a cover song? No Doubt recently released a cover version of Adam and the Ants' "Stand and Deliver" and in the passed released their version of Talk Talk's "It's My Life". I wish they hadn't.

Sometimes a band releases a cover version of songs they really like or to show their admiration of a particular artist. Unfortunately in many cases the cover itself is worse than the original. Either because it is only an exact copy of the original or because in their interpretation of the song one of the essential ingredients is missing. Listening to songs like Pet Shop Boys - "Where The Streets Have No Name" (U2) and Madonna - "American Pie" (Don McLean) makes you wonder "What were they thinking!".

So are cover songs a no no? Not necessarily. But the orinal song needs to be handled with care. There's more to it than just copying the notes. It should be produced and arranged as a new song. And it should fit it into the artist's own style. This can result in some great cover songs:

It can even make people forget about the original artist. How many people know the original Zutons version of "Valerie" by Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse?

But for a band it's better to think twice when trying to touch a famous and legendary song. The risk of crash and burn is too high. Watch, listen and weep:

Britney Spears - "I Love Rock N' Roll" (The Arrows, made famous by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts)


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Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Rock Therapy Is The Cure

Therapy? - Crooked Timber (Ronald Says 4 out of 5)
Their line-up changed a couple of times over the past years. So did their record label. They've had ups and downs but kept on going. So after all these years Therapy? are still around and released a new album.

From the beginning of the album it's clear: Therapy? means serious business. They are here to rock! Opening track "The Head That Tried To Strangle Itself" kicks in with heavy drums, big guitar riffs and a pumping bass. This is Therapy? going strong and how we know them from the old days. "Exiles" for instance has a heavy distorted bass line and changes from melodic guitar parts into heavy grooves. This is a great song.

"Crooked Timber" like most of the songs has rolling drum fills which are very prominent. Drummer Neil Cooper must have had a lot of fun making this album. Since there are only three members remaining, besides Cooper original member Andy Cairns and long time member Michael McKeegan, all instruments get enough room and the production is nicely balanced.

"Magic Mountain" is one of the few tracks where the band takes it a bit more slow. It lasts 10 minutes but still doesn't feel out of place. They seem to pack the whole vibe of the album in their last track "Bad Excuse For Daylight" that sounds very dark and varies between dark heavy grooves and slower melodic parts.

The Irish band kind of seemed to have been under the radar last couple of years even though they have been touring and releasing albums. This album may not achieve the same commercial success like the "Troublegum" and "Infernal Love" albums but that's not what they are looking for. They have hit back with a vengeance and rock harder as they've ever done.
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Monday, 6 April 2009

Ticket market needs change

The power of the internet has opened new opportunities for musicians. Bypassing the big record labels with their killer contracts they can bring their music directly to the fans. Declining record sales make live performances more important to generate revenues. However this part of the market is also dominated by a few money hungry companies.

When I was a young boy my first big stadium concert cost me the equivalent of $20. This was in 1990 and I was watching U2 play live. Now I pay at least over $100 dollars to see the same band play live. That's a steep inflation. It is also hard to see upcoming bands for a friendly price. Nowadays you don't want to check out an unknown band for $30 unless you know it's gonna be good.

The declining record sales have made live performances much more important to generate revenues. However only a few companies seem to hold the right to initiate the ticket sales. Since concert tickets are becoming more scarce ticket prices go up and black market prices are exploding. Ticket companies don't seem to mind since they almost hold monopoly positions and are benefiting from rising prices. Musicians only get a small part of the revenues. Sounds familiar?

And nowadays the black market is turning to the internet as well. Many websites with names close to official sales sites offer concert ticket for double or even higher prices. How on earth are these sites able to get their hands on so many tickets? The official sites are only increasing scarcity by introducing horrific ways for buying tickets online and putting up ridiculous queue pages. And the recent issue with tickets to Bruce Springsteen concerts show that official agencies may even be linked to the secondary market. So in the end only companies selling tickets are taking advantage of this situation both official and black market. Don't expect them to change this profitable situation soon.

Maybe it's time for government regulation to step in and put a hold to this since the market itself never will. The initiative by NY senator Schumer doesn't seem really righteous. But it's time to cut out another middle man and bring musicians and fans closer together.
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Thursday, 2 April 2009

Neil Young's cruising

Neil Young - "Fork In The Road" (Ronald says 3 out of 5)

Like I mentioned earlier this week Neil Young is streaming his new album online before it will officially be released on April 7. So I was able to give it an early listen.

From the start of the album it sounds very much like Neil Young. Guitars are screaming, amps are coughing and the riffs sound grungy. Neil's voice isn't what it used to be but who can blame him. The album has its share of nice heavy grooves ("When World Collides" and "Fuel Line") but Neil takes his foot off the pedal to take it slow as well. This results in a slow country style ballad "Light a Candle" and the very beautiful "Get Behind The Wheel". The album title song "Fork In The Road" reminds me of Hendrix's "Gloria". "Cough Up The Bucks" sounds a bit odd and is pretty up to date with the financial crisis singing "Where Did All The Money Go?".

It's all good honest rock 'n roll but it's nothing new. And why should he? He's Neil Young and he can do whatever he wants. And that's playing rock songs. Catch him live if you get the chance.
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Moonalice first band to play concert on Twitter

Moonalice, a band from the Bay Area in the USA, will be the first band to have their concert on Twitter.

The release show of their new CD will be made available directly on Twitter. Songs will be digitized right after they have been played and put on their website. A tweet will have a download link to the song. It's the first time a band makes a concert available this way. Their web crew is gonna have a busy night. They will play the show this Friday night April 3.
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Neil Young debuts new album "Fork In The Road" on MySpace

Neil Young has reveiled his new album "Fork In The Road" on MySpace last night. At midnight all tracks are available for streaming.

Neil got the inspiration for the album while working on the "Lincvolt" project. In this project "Empowering the American Dream" they turn a 1959 Lincoln Continental into a clean and environment friendlier car.

The album itself will hit the record stores April 7. Check it out and let me know what you think of it. I will give it a listen myself as well and post a review soon.
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Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Nine Inch Nails releases album with Timbaland?

Remarkable news today: Nine Inch Nails releases a new album "Strobelight" with Timbaland and it is available for download on his web page. Hm, something seems fishy though.

It is April Fools Day of course so that makes you wonder. Looking at the track list makes it all clear: "Everybody's Doing It (featuring chris martin, jay-z AND bono)", "Pussygrinder (featuring sheryl crow)", "Even closer (featuring justin timberlake and maynard james keenan)" and "Clap Trap Crack Slap" to name a few. Of course this is a direct diss to Chris Cornell again. Trent Reznor made some remarks on Twitter about Chris' latest album "Scream" and Chris wasn't amused .

So is this the next round in their little feud? Hopefully Chris has a good sense of humor. Personally I think it's really funny!
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