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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