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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