Tuesday, 27 April 2010

London Calling Something To Enjoy For All

Spring is in the air, the sun is shining, the festival season is warming up so it's time for a new edition of London Calling. What bands will suprise us this time, who will be big in a few years and who won't we ever see back? Time to head to Paradiso and find out!

London Calling #1 at Paradiso, April 24 2010

A beautiful day, a good meal at Wagamama's, cold beer and good company. This night was off to a good start. We arrived early at Paradiso so it was relatively quiet and no line (although the bouncer directed me to where the queue was supposed to be). Time for the first band!

Emanuel And The Fear(Ronald Says 6 out of 10)
Remarkable about this band is the addition of cello, violin and flute. This makes me sceptical as well since it may be remarkable but will it add anything? Unfortunately it doesn't and I find it actually more disturbing. With the only exception of singer Emanuel Ayvas the band looks pretty bored. And that's exactly how I feel after a while.

Joe Worricker (Ronald Says 5 out of 10)
I usually don't like singer-songwriters and this performance was certainly no exception. This young artist absolutely did his best and he may be a very talented singer but it just didn't stick. Only a few people in front of the stage seemed to enjoy it. I guess it wasn't his time yet.

Chapel Club (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Boy these guys can make a lot of noise. Their Editors inspired sound is pretty convincing. Too bad that their set is still a bit unbalanced with good and bad songs. Next time a few more good songs and these guys may get pretty far.

Esben and the Witch (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)
Although playing a pretty creative and varied set this Danish band is trying too hard to make arty music. I'm sure there's an audience for their music but this is just not my cup of tea.

Errors (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)
Lots of electronics with these guys. Their songs are well played but something is missing. After a while you kind of get the idea and it's time to move on.

General Fiasco (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)
I was expecting more from this band. Their single 'Ever So Shy' is pretty catchy but turns out to be one of only two good songs. All the rest sounds alike and everything seems to be in the same tempo. Singer Owen Strathern isn't a great vocalist and the accoustic song he plays cannot save their performance.

Everything Everything (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)
Less can be more but telling from their band name this doesn't apply to these artists. Their songs are complex, tight and well played but it's all a bit too much. Complexitity shouldn't be the goal of a song since you will end up with music without a true soul. That's kind of what their songs sounded like. Maybe this festival wasn't the right place for them.

Hudson Mohawke (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Time to dance! This guy doesn't hesitate and from the start throws his heavy beats out there. The crowd finally can go wild and most people do. Still it could have been better. It seems he was hesitating to really light the fuse and tear the place down where he could. And please get rid of that annoying MC.

We Have Band (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Catchy New Order like tunes by this threesome with lots of beats and percussion. Nothing really that sticks out but a lively and satisfying performance. A good act for that time of the night when our good friend Mr Heineken (hello) is starting to take over as usual.

Fools Gold (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
Another perfect timed act closes the live acts on the main stage. Swinging music with lots of percussion so just my kind of music! And they stay a lot closer to the African roots than hip and famous Vampire Weekend (nope, not a fan).

Great ending to an interesting evening with lots of variety. Some good, some bad but compliments to the programmer for serving this tasty dish. Unfortunately this is where Mr Heineken was asking most of our attention so we forgot about two more acts on the small stage. Too bad because appearently we missed one of the best acts of the weekend And So I Watch You From Afar. Hopefully I can catch them some time to make up.

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Cartoon Time With Editors

Editors have released the new video for "Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool". The track sticks out on the album as a weird one. Some love it but it's not my favourite track of the album although live it worked very well. The video is a great animation in the old cartoon style of the early 1900s. Check it out:

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Thursday, 22 April 2010

The Admiral Goes Full Force

Admiral Freebee - The Honey & The Knife (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
I bought their latest CD at their Melkweg performance but didn't write a review yet. What they showed on stage goes for the album as well. A great variety of songs: some angry raw rock songs, others bluesy sad ballads, an occasional dancable pop song. Frontman Tom Van Laere shows he's a skilled musician once again. Highly recommended. Read more!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Congratulations MGMT?

A few years ago MGMT surprised the world with their debut album 'Oracular Spectacular'. All of a sudden they were one of the hottest bands on the globe. It wasn' exactly my cup of tea but I have to admit they did something right. So now they release their second album that everyone says is always the hardest after such a killer debut.

MGMT - Congratulations (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
According to the band they could have gone down the same and easy road of their succesful first record. Instead they chose otherwise and decided to come up with something completely different. A brave decision that some couldn't appreciate including some fans. The band even appoligized but I'm not so sure how serious we should take that.

It sure isn't an easy album. It seems to go into all kinds of directions. They certainly have explored their possibilities. And although not all songs worked out equally well it definitely has some good ones on it. 'Son For Dan Treacy' is one of those tunes that work well, a crazy song with a catchy organ. 'Flash Delirium' isn't half as bad as some people want us to believe. The band supposingly had some good laughs about it and why no?. 'Siberian Breaks' is a 12 minute adventure that starts out like a warm summer breeze but then seems to take a more dramatic turn. Then it's time to have fun again with the light and swinging 'Brian Eno' that I'm sure they had great fun at as well.

MGMT shows great progress on this album and I like it more than their debut. It breaths great creativity and they are not afraid to take a gamble and experiment. That by itself already is admirable since they could have chosen the easy road. And it seems they had great fun making the album as well and that's what music is all about in the first place. So congratulations are well deserved for this album.
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Tuesday, 13 April 2010

DeWolff: Who Said Rock Is Dead?

To the line of bands that embrace good old 70s rock Dutch newcomer DeWolff are a nice addition. Their mix of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple inspired music spiced up with Pink Floyd like psychedelica is exciting. What's even more impressive is that the three band members are not even 20 yet!

DeWolff in Paradiso Amsterdam, April 3 2010 (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Dressed in smart suits and looking their coolest the three young men enter the stage and immediately start laying down their rolling grooves. The band sounds and looks convincing as if they are playing there every week. The Hammond organ of Robin Piso gives it that Deep Purple like sound. Not surprisingly it sometimes sounds like The Doors as well since they are playing without bass player like the illustrious 60s band.

As I mentioned in my short album review of their debut album 'Strange Fruits And Undisclosed Desires' the voice of singer Pablo van der Poel sometimes sounds a bit too weak. But he makes it up with great guitar riffs. And the music seems to be the main attraction here anyway. Some songs lead into long jams like their big inspirers used to do, packed with solos and psychedelic instrumental breaks.

It wasn't not completely full but when you're able to fill up Paradiso when playing the main stage and are able to leave a crowd pleased like this you're definitely full of potential and talent. Let's hope this band gets the time they need to mature so they can deliver many great albums and play many stages. Rock's definitely not dead.
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Monday, 12 April 2010

Short Review: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Beat The Devil's Tattoo

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Beat The Devil's Tattoo (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)
Almost ten years ago their self titled debut album immediately put them on the rock map. After this highly acclaimed debut it only slowly went down hill and with every album they seemed to loose a bit of credibility. Unfortunately this last album is not going to change that. Although returning to the sound of their early years it's all too predictable and never really takes off. One can only hope they will come up with another great album again where you can almost smell the oil, diesel, sweat and burning rubber of good honest dirty rock 'n roll (whatever happened to?). Read more!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Life Of Agony Still Alive And Kicking

Life Of Agony playing their succesful debut album 'River Runs Red' completely...that promises a nostalgic night with some heavy rock! So together with two of my old and dearest friends we headed to the Effenaar to see if we could bring back some memories

Life of Agony in Effenaar Eindhoven, April 2 2010 (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
We got there early so we had to make it through the support act 'Panic Cell'. Although hard working they delivered a uninspiring half hour of nu-metal. All cliches were there: repeating blast beats, a grunt here and there, and the standard guitar riffs. The Seal cover 'Crazy' was the worst and fortunately their last song.

The main act entered the stage with singer Keith Caputo in an interesting outfit to say the least: a pink crochet thingy. But this was no fashion show and they kicked off the first song of the album. What followed was a great performance of all the songs with accompanying sound bytes in place. The slight slower tempo made them even more dramatic. With the theme of the album in mind (suicide of a young guy) it added to the whole dark vibe of the album. The contrast with the tempo changes was more obvious and suited the songs very well. The band was tight and Caputo showed he still is a skilled rock singer. His voice can be low, warm and melodramatic but he can also scream like the best. It did ask a lot of him because at the end of the gig he seemed pretty exhausted. Too bad they had some technical difficulties during the set. It resulted in some long breaks and sometimes breaking the nice flow of the set. At the end of the set they did a few more songs of their other albums to end in style.

It wasn't a trip to memory lane as I expected but more of renewed admiration for this band. Hopefully they will keep on playing like this in the years to come and eventually come up with new material as well.
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Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Local Hero Daniël Lohues Inspiring Musician

Since this blog is supposed to be an international blog I'm always asking myself if the stuff I write about is interesting to international readers. However sometimes it's just too good to keep to myself even when it's really a local artist. And Daniël Lohues even sings in a local dialect "Drents" of a region in the Eastern part of the Netherlands. But his passion for music is international.

Daniël Lohues in de Kleine Komedie Amsterdam, March 28 2010 (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
The stage of the theater has a simple buf effective decor that resembles a cosey living room. Around four guitars are on the stage together with a piano and an air organ on each side. Lohues is touring for the fourth time with his "Allennig" (Dutch dialect for "On my own") project. It's the last of four albums each one representing a season. This last one is Autumn.

Lohues has a nice and warm voice and his songs are intimate little poems with a funny twist. That's typical for him. It never goes too deep or gets too serious. There's always a light touch. They are a mix of blues, rock and folk. In between he's telling short funny stories and he's very good at it. Many stories are about music and it shows what a passionate musician he is and a true music lover.

He keeps the audience's attention until the very last second of the two hour set. Lohues leaves us with a couple of encores and modestly receives the well deserved standing ovation.

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Soundgarden confirmed for Lollapalooza

Over the weekend Soundgarden announced on their website they are one of the headliners of the Lollapalooza festival. As a big fan of this band this is exciting news for me! I can only hope they will start announcing more dates soon and will be coming over to the Netherlands as well. Since Pearl Jam is also touring right now they probably won't play many dates before that time because of drummer Matt Cameron's obligation to both bands. Or they should go touring together which is close to my ultimate wet dream! Read more!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Short Review: Blood Red Shoes - Fire Like This

Blood Red Shoes - Fire Like This (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)

This is the second album of this duo that has a reverse White Stripes setup: Steven Ansell on drums and Laura-Mary Carter on guitar. At least Ansell does a better job behind the drum kit. Although with only two musicians in a band you get lots of freedom you need to explore your possibilities. Unfortunately though playing catchy tunes it all sounds alike and isn't much different from their first album. Read more!