Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Sniffing The Grass: A Rock Werchter Warmup

It's already summertime and the festival season is well on its way but my first big summer festival of the year is yet to come: Rock Werchter 2010 is starting Thursday. And it promises to be a hot edition both weather wise and musical wise. This means digging into the line up and making my plan. What are the acts that I'm gonna see? You can read it here!

Hopefully this year not too many traffic jams so we can make it on time for once. Especially to check out Kyteman's Hiphop Orchestra. He has proven that he can blow away any stage at any festival.
Skunk Anansie used to be one of the best live rock bands. Let's see if they still got it.
The XX charmed every music critic with their debut album but I wasn't that impressed. Maybe they can impress me live on stage.
Stereophonics are the opposite and most music critics seem to dislike this band somehow. Why? I like their middle of the road, easy listening rock tunes a lot.
Although Muse's last album didn't do it for me they are still a great band with an impressive show. No way I'm gonna miss them.

Faithless or Crookers? Faithless has been on every festival millions of times, playing the same show millions of times. Maybe I'll check both out, or just drink beer.

Balthazar is interesting enough to check out. Hopefully they can surprise me.
Coheed And Cambria and The Morning Benders aren't really compelling enough to me. So maybe time to just hang out, try to recover from the first day and get ready for
Netherlands - Brazil!
Oh yeah, the Dutchies are playing the Divine Canaries and hopefully some of our Belgium friends outside the festival area have brought TVs. Sorry Rise Against, The Gaslight Anthem and Paramore but it's time to watch soccer!
And it doesn't matter who wins because I know Editors is gonna be great since they always are.

It's gonna be awesome seeing The Specials and to find out if this mighty ska band from the early 80s can still tear the place apart.
Green Day have proven they can but LCD Soundsystem is also playing and this just could be one of the last times I'm able to watch that band.

Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail Riders are kicking it off today. Hopefully more people will show up than earlier this month.
Belgian band Das Pop have delivered a great last album and can hopefully win some more fans over.
Yeasayer are highly acclaimed. Let's see if they can live up to that.
I'm sure Porcupine Tree definitely can live up to their reputation. I'm really excited finally being able to see these guys perform.
Florence of Florence + The Machine is usually really excited when performing. Hopefully she doesn't get too excited and stays in tune.
P!nk's music isn't really that interesting or special but I sure wanna see her fly over the crowd.
Leave it to Rammstein to close the day with literally lots of fireworks!

Hopefully The Van Jets will kick start me for the final day.
Otherwise maybe Sweet Coffee will but I like my coffee strong especially after three days of watching bands and drinking beer.
And if that didn't work then The Black Keys oughta really wake me up.
So I can let it go when great rock band Alice in Chains are going to rock my socks off.
To take it easy with Dirty Projectors that hopefull will give an accessible show.
Of course my favourite rock band Them Crooked Vultures sure will and no doubt will once again blow me away.
The Black Box Revelation should be able to keep up this rocking tempo.
So Pearl Jam can present us with the final blow for the perfect close of hopefully yet another perfect Werchter edition.

Fellow music blogger TBeest has great previews of all days with lots of links to music and video's. Check out his previews for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

And of course after the festival check back for the reviews. I will post them as soon as I've recovered so give it a few days.
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Thursday, 24 June 2010

Stonesour Drown In Noise

It's a hectic time for Stonesour. The band with musicians from Slipknot have a new album coming up while Slipknot is working on one. And then they also have to cope with the death of Slipknot bass player Paul Gray. Still they were able to come over to Europe to do a few shows including one in Amsterdam.

Stonesour at Melkweg Amsterdam, June 15 2010 (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)

Stonesour is the more quiet and relaxed version of Slipknot. Without the masks and grunting. The music is more melodic although still solid. Singer Corey Taylor shows up looking like Justin Timberlake (sorry Corey). The bands looks pretty eager and are in a good mood. They get to work right away and bang out the first song. The sound is just plain awful and it sounds as if they forgot to switch on Taylor's mic. It gets slightly better during the gig but it never gets as good as it should.

Although trying really hard it never really is convincing maybe due to the sound trouble. It all results in a wall of noise causing every song to sound alike. The new songs of the upcoming album blend in seamlessly because of this. Taylor seems to be enjoying himself and is real chatty. He could do without repeating "Make some fucking noise" all the time. But when the crowd is answering it puts a big smile on his face. The only time the sound is not in the way is when they play their big hit, the ballad 'Through Glass' that prooves Taylor is a decent singer. Guitarist Jim Root gets the chance to show off a few of his new guitars with nice solos.

Still an enjoyable gig despite the bad sound though. 6 for the music but 8 for effort still makes a 7. Maybe next time it will grow into more.
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Wednesday, 23 June 2010

New Interpol Video "Lights"

Interpol have released the video for the first single of their self-titled upcoming album. The new album will be available September 14. Watch the video here:

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Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Summertime With The Drums

The Drums - The Drums(Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
This band supposingly is one of the new sensations at the moment from Brooklyn New York. They are überhip and highly acclaimed. So do they live up to the hype? Well yes and no. The songs aren't all that special and it's definitely not a ground breaking record. On the other hand they came up with some catchy tunes that sound like a warm summer breeze which make it a very nice record with plenty to enjoy. Read more!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Them Crooked Vultures Offer Night Of Sweaty Sexy Rock

Yes, I have been a big fan of Them Crooked Vultures from day one. I was one of the lucky people to see them perform for the first time in Europe last year and their encore on Lowlands. Now they were back on their nest for a second appearance in Amsterdam after their glorious debut in August.

Them Crooked Vultures at Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam June 10 2009 (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
And I loved those both performances to bits. Their album might just be my musical wet dream and I really don't get why so many critics dislike it and are always negative about Josh Homme and Dave Grohl. Of course I'm prejudiced as a fan but even from an objective standpoint it still is a good album. Maybe it's just jealousy because these guys have achieved what most musicians can only dream of: being in succesful bands and having a hobby band on the side that happens to be of extraordinary quality. And have lots of fun doing it at the same time. That must be hard to swallow for most sour critics.

So I just had to be there again in the Heineken Music Hall that was sold out and therefore loaded. But only after the support act 'As I Watch You From Afar' put down a nice show to warm us up. Their instrumental progrock tunes were a great way to get in the mood.

But then loud cheers welcomed the stars of the night to the stage. They immediately went full force (thank God for ear plugs) and put down their killer grooves. Compared to last year they were anticipating more to each other and the vultures machine was well oiled and running smoothly. Grohl is just incredible to watch on drums playing so strong and convincing with inventive grooves and fills. Josh Homme looked very relaxed, playing his signature licks, chatting and cracking jokes once and a while. Even his crooning during 'Interlude with Ludes' looked less clumsy than last year. John Paul Jones is an amazing multi-instrumentalist playing bass, keyboards and violin. It must be great playing with a steady relaxed musician like him. And Alain Johannes was showing that he's just as important to the band as the rest with great solo's and riffs filling up the songs and giving them more body.

With only one album out they don't have a lot of songs yet but of course that's no problem. They just extended some of them by turning them into long jams showing off their skills. They included two more songs 'Highway One' and 'You Can't Possibly Begin To Imagine' that aren't on the album. Appearently that last one is a new song and may end up on their second record later this year.

After two hours of high quality rock music they ran out of songs and it was time to say goodbye. No more tunes left for an encore but who needs one of those scheduled endings of a show anyway? So what's wrong with Josh Homme and Dave Grohl besides them having fun? And calling Grohl overrated (yes, I've read critics stating that) is absolute nonsense. He must be one of the best and most inventive rock drummers at the moment. So maybe it's not sensitive indie folk music that all those critics seems to love these days but I would trade in any of those so called creative bands with their fussing for another two hours of steaming dirty rock by Them Crooked Vultures.
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Tuesday, 15 June 2010

New single Brandon Flowers

The Killers singer Brandon Flowers has kicked off his solo career with his first single 'Crossfire'. It sounds pretty catchy but also still a lot like The Killers. Check it out below and let me know what you think.

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Friday, 11 June 2010

Moss On Their Way To The Top

In 2009 Moss released their second album 'Never Be Scared/Don't Be A Hero' which immediately took off and rocketed them into the Dutch alternative stratosphere. The next big milestone is to play the main stage of Paradiso. Anyone that can manage that in a good way is ready to take the big plunge.

Moss at Paradiso Amsterdam, June 5 2009 (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
When the band takes the stage most of the crowd are quieting down. As if everyone is eager, almost nervous to find out if they can manage playing this stage. But from the first note on Moss take away any doubt. Their quality songs combined with the nice visuals projected on the back wall are enough to convince any sceptic. But by playing them as focused as possible and with the individual skills of the musicians they take their performance to a higher level.

They have taken advantage of the variety in songs on their latest album to come up with a balanced set. Up tempo songs and slower ones alternate and offer something to enjoy for everyone. When they are joined by 8 more drummers the crowd gets really excited. The middle part of the set with a long version of 'Silent Hill' is absolutely beautiful. The song starts slow and then gradually builds up to its climax. By that time they must have won over every music lover. After closing the set with their hit single 'I Like The Chemistry' it's time for the big ending of the show as they play their encore. They have chosen The Knife's 'Silent Shout' and together with the 8 drummers are giving the crowd a reason to cheer once more. Then it's time for them to celebrate an outstanding performance themselves by climbing a few amps and diving into the crowd while the drummers keep on playing.

It's clear that Moss can handle any club in The Netherlands. This summer they can proove that on the many festivals they will be playing. The future looks bright for this talented band.
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Wednesday, 9 June 2010

More Of The Same From UNKLE

UNKLE - Where Did The Night Fall (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)

Originally a trip-hop act UNKLE slowly moved over to a more rock and dance oriented style of music on their former album 'War Stories'. Like they did on that album they asked a bunch of guest musicians and vocalists like Gavin Clark and Mark Lanegan to help them out on their new album. Although that worked on most of the tracks on 'War Stories' it doesn't on this album. After a while you can't distinguish the seperate tracks anymore and not one really sticks out. Too bad since the formula is pretty interesting. Read more!

Friday, 4 June 2010

Taylor Hawkins Showing His Skills

Telling from the number of people at the main stage of the Melkweg many people either don't know Taylor Hawkins or are not interested in seeing him play with his Coattail Riders. Or may not like his music. Around 100 people did want to see the Foo Fighters drummer playing with his own band. I was a bit worried because of their latest album which isn't too great. Because of the few people I could get up real close to his nice sparkle finish drum kit with the hawk on the front.

Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail Riders at Melkweg Amsterdam, Wednesday June 2 2010 (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)

The back of the stage holds the same image as the new album's cover. The rest of the stage holds the musician's instruments and that's it. They like to keep it small and simple so much is clear. They kick off the show with the album's opening track 'Not Bad Luck'. It sounds so much better than on the album. The song gets a lot more body and the harmonies sound normal. This will be typical for the rest of the songs. They all sound better live. The Coattail Riders show they are skilled musicians and seem to be enjoying themselves. Hawkins himself is relaxed and keeps telling how thankful he is that we are showing up. He looks like a really down to earth and likable person which is admirable for someone who's playing in one of the biggest rock bands in the world.

Hakwins isn't a great singer. His vocal range is limited although he does have a pleasant voice. He doesn't have a lot of power and it sure isn't helpful that the vocals aren't loud enough in the mix. But in the end his drum skills are stealing the show. The drum kit is positioned at the front of the stage like all musicians. When he's playing his face is showing his usual restrained look. You can see he is used to playing big arena's by the powerful way he's hitting his kit. Still it's all very tasteful. The way he can combine drums and vocals is impressive since some drum parts are kind of progrock and are pretty complicated. He even makes one of my favourite songs from the first album 'Get Up I Want To Get Down' look like a piece of cake. They end in style with a great version of 'Way Down' which is the best song on the album.

Although the album may not be too great Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail riders show that they can put down a good rock show. They are obviously enjoying themselves a lot and this tour is probably like a big vacation to them. What a way to see something of the world and earn a bit of drinking money on the side. See you at Rock Werchter guys!
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Thursday, 3 June 2010

LCD Soundsystem closes off in style

LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

According to James Murphy this third LCD Soundsystem album is the last one. He stated that he doesn't like the superstar status but I'm pretty sure he will show up again in one way or the other with a new project. After the success of the highly acclaimed 'Sound of Silver' it must have been quite hard to come up with an album that could top that. And to be honest this album can't. But again it's a good album with plenty to enjoy although it cannot meet the brilliance of the previous master piece. At least Murphy leaves us in style. Read more!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Taylor Hawkins Just Having Fun

Best known as the drummer of Foo Fighters, Taylor Hawkins is using their sabbatical to play with his own band Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail Riders. They released their self-titled debut a few years ago which was the result of them having fun and jamming together. Now they release their second album 'Red Light Fever' that looks like a more serious attempt.

Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail Riders - Red Light Fever (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)
Hawkins has proven to be a skilled drum player with the Foo Fighters where he has the difficult task of playing drums with Dave Grohl who I consider to be one of the best rock drummers around. And he's doing a good job at it. Now they have taken a break and Grohl is having fun with Them Crooked Vultures Hawkins is playing with his hobby band again. But it looks like he means serious business with it: he found heavy weight musicians Roger Taylor and Brian May to guest star on the album and also Dave Grohl is helping his band mate out. This time they have spent more time producing the album and it's promoted more heavily than their debut. They are even on a small tour and recently crossed the pond to play over here in Europe.

So does all the work pay off? Not really. Although you can hear where it's all coming from (Hawkins said it was like "me having sex with my record collection"): classic rock mixed with Foo Fighters and also not surprisingly Queen since he has always named them to be one of his major influences. But where the first album was a more spontaneous result of their jam sessions, this album is trying to go beyond that and causes it to sound more forced. Harmonies sometimes sound more like Alvin and The Chipmunks or Queen on speed (album opener 'Bad Luck'). Hawkins isn't a great singer but still has a pleasant voice to listen to. And then most of the songs sound like they aren't finished yet and are too full of ideas.

It isn't all that bad since the album has some good songs (album opener 'Bad Luck' and 'Your Shoes' for instance) as well. It all does sound like they had great fun at it but you never get the idea that it is supposed to be more than that. And of course Hawkins still put down some great drum grooves on the album (like in 'Never Enough') and with the help of those brilliant guests there's still much to enjoy. Especially fans of classic rock probably will have lots of fun listening to the record.

Hopefully they will display all that fun this Wednesday when I go to see them in the Melkweg and make the songs sound better live on stage.
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