Thursday, 28 October 2010

Worthy Legacy For Ou Est Le Swimming Pool

Ou Est Le Swimming Pool - The Golden Year (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
After the sudden death of singer Charles Haddon it is unclear what's gonna happen with this British band. Chances are it will stay with this debut album. It's a decent indie pop album with some catchy tunes. Not all songs are equally strong but a song like 'Dance The Way I Feel' shows they had potential. It's just tragic and sad it had to end this way. But Haddon can be proud of what he left behind.

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Sunday, 24 October 2010

Effortless New Album By Kings of Leon

The guys from Kings of Leon have come a long way since they released their first album 'Youth and Young Manhood' seven years ago. From a relative unknown band liked by many people for their alternative and rough southern sound they hit the jackpot with 'Only By The Night'. But that album also received a lot of criticism that the boys had exchanged their original sound for a more main stream one and were only aiming at big success. Time to check out what this new album would bring.

Kings Of Leon - Come Around Sundown (Ronald Says 5 out of 10)

I never completely shared that negative criticism for 'Only By The Night' as I liked most of the album. And I think the big hit 'Sex On Fire' that for some was the perfect example of everything that turned ugly is a pretty good song. Maybe not lyrics wise but it has some great hooks and a good groove.

And with such a successful album the big pitfall is to stick to that sound and make an almost identical new album. The reality is far worse though. They seemed to have taken the mainstream appeal, thickened it and got rid of what was left of the soul of their original sound. And so the album ends up with mediocre songs and a band that's nog even trying to play good songs.

Singer Caleb Followill is constantly trying to sound like someone else. He found a way of sounding over dramatic and sticks to it the entire album. It's like a trick he keeps repeating so that you really grow tired of it in the end. The lyrics are cheesy throughout the whole album and just really too easy. Like in 'Back Down South':

If you see the lights
and we hear the fights
It's gonna be a stunner
I've got something here
If you give me one more beer

I mean c'm on! You don't get away with that. This sounds like he wrote it quickly on a napkin in a dead moment between all the side activities that seem to come with stardom.

Guitar riffs and licks, bass and drum grooves all suffer from that problem. On top of that every song follows the same recipe causing all of them to sound identical. There isn't a track on the album that sticks out. Everything sounds so phony, cheesy and insincere that even a potentially good song like 'Back Down South' (yes with those laughable lyrics) is just too much. In the end you just don't believe them anymore. Album opener 'The End' is a slow version of 'Sex On Fire' with some cheesy synths thrown in. Half of the album is filled with ballads that all sound the same. Just listen to 'Pyro', 'Mary' and 'Mi Amigo' to name a few. A song like 'Pony Up' is just a sad attempt at sounding funky. And then there's 'Radioactive'...I mean wtf!?

Frontman Followill told in an interview he hates hipsters. "We'll gladly be the next generation of bands that aren't going anywhere." Well they are doing great at going nowhere. Kings of Leon now sound like a bad copy of Kings of Leon.

Come Around Sundown on Spotify

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Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Sore Losers Have A Winner

The Sore Losers - The Sore Losers (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)

The Sore Losers are a Belgian band that were in this year's finals of Humo's Rock Rally. They didn't win it but left a good impression as the runner up and were signed by the Excelsior record label. Now they already have released their self-titled debut album. Their classic mix of blues and garage rock is nothing new but sounds refreshing nevertheless. You can hear they enjoyed recording and playing their songs. Although it took me a few listens to fully appreciate it Excelsior seems to have another winner. With all the great new Belgian bands lately it looks like Belgium is starting a new golden generation of bands.

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Thursday, 14 October 2010

Big Applause For Balthazar

Balthazar are a Belgian band from Kortrijk/Ghent that won Humo's Rock Rally a few years ago. Since then they worked on their debut album that finally was released earlier this year. Slowly they are conquering the low lands with good performances on several festivals. I got to see them on Rock Werchter and Lowlands and was impressed by their quality songs and performance. Time to check them out in a club show.

Balthazar at the Melkweg Amsterdam, October 6 2010 (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

The band Tommigun kicks it off with a good and varied set. Their indie rock songs are interesting and sound good. They could work on a more lively stage performance though since it's hard to keep your attention with their somewhat static stage act.

This is no problem for the main act Balthazar. They kick off right away and show they are one of the most interesting bands from Belgium at the moment. Their songs are well thought, sound great, nicely arranged and skillfully played. This band is seriously putting lots of effort in it. They sound tight and focused. Maarten Devoldere and Jinte Deprez are taking turns on vocals and especially Devoldere does it with lots of energy.

Patricia Vanneste is the multi-instrumentalist playing violin, keyboards and percussion. Her part is essential for the band's sound as it provides the songs with more colour. With only one record out you're bound to run out of material so they play a few new songs as well that according to Devoldere "they have never played live before and didn't rehearse". It doesn't matter since they blend in perfectly with the rest of the set.

It will only be a matter of time before they will move on to bigger stages and play headline slots of festivals. In a few years they will be up there with other great Belgian bands like dEUS and Zita Swoon. It will be well deserved.

More pictures

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Thursday, 7 October 2010

Crystal Ball: What A Way To Celebrate A Birthday

Dutch alternative radio station KinkFM and music magazine LiveXS both had their 15 anniversary this year. And what better way to celebrate that by teaming up and inviting some great bands to the Melkweg? It turned into a small festival with several bands taking two Melkweg stages. With bands like The Mad Trist, The Van Jets, Tim Knol + Anne Soldaat and The Black Box Revelation it promised to be a good party. To top it off I won two VIP tickets and two more friends took over the tickets I already bought. We were ready for a night of good music.

Crystal Ball at Melkweg Amsterdam, September 24 2010
There's a line for the guest list when we arrive while our friends don't have to wait at all. I also have to find someone from the LiveXS staff for the other part of my prize. Later on it turns out it's a glass mug that I decide to leave with him until I go home since it will be empty without free refills anyway. Time to check out the first band.

The Phoenix Explosion (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
The new band of Green Lizard's Remi Tjon Ajong combined with members of Beef and Krezip plays heavy rock that continues where Green Lizard left off. It sounds promising but it needs more work. Of course they are skilled and experienced musicians but they probably need some more time on the road to refine their live act. I'm interested to hear their album though once it's finished.

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Lola Kite (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)
This band already finished their album and people think highly of them. But it wasn't easy to swallow. Singer Keez Groenteman sounds out of tune now and then and although their synthpop songs are catchy and interesting from time to time they really need to spice it up. Bringing in a drummer on stage could already make it a more lively performance.

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The Mad Trist (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
I was looking forward to see these guys again. Their heavy stoner-rock is just what I like and they didn't disappoint me. They fire off big fat testosteron overloaded drum and guitar grooves and Queens of the Stone Age is never far away. The band sounds tight and are enjoying themselves. Playing live is paying off as they seem to grow in sound. If they can find their own sound these guys could definitely live up to their potential.

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The Van Jets (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
Like the day before The Van Jets put on a convincing performance. With a varied well balanced set and lots of energy they made a good impression. They definitely impressed a couple of my friends so I'm sure they won many people over. I just couldn't leave until the end of their set. Sadly it turned out Tim Knol already was wrapping up his set with Anne Soldaat so I missed him again! Hopefully next time Tim.

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Kensington (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)
The surprise act of the night wasn't Go Back To The Zoo as I thought but Dutch rock band Kensington. On paper they sound promising: indie rock like Arctic Monkeys and Kaiser Chiefs. But it all sounds a bit thin and alike. From what I read they sound more polished and less rough as they used to. Maybe put back in a bit of that rough side again.

Official Website | MySpace | Spotify

Black Box Revelation (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
The last band of the night made sure it would end in a climax. Only a drummer and a guitarist is what you need when you're called Black Box Revelation. Like The Black Keys who work with the same formula they play rough and sweaty garage blues/rock. Only when you listen closely you'll notice there's no bass player involved. It's impressive how they bring variation in their songs and never sound weary. Great way to end the live gigs.

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We decide to call it a night and skip the rest of the party. I cannot find the guy from LiveXS anymore who was supposed to give me the glass mug that I won so we leave home without it. Too bad I didn't get free refills with it but then again now I can go home without being totally wasted.
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Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Skunk Anansie Still Strong But Harmless

Skunk Anansie - Wonderlustre (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
One of the best live rock acts of the 90s is back. The English band with front woman Skin already toured many festivals this summer playing mostly their biggest hits. Now they even released a new album with fresh tracks. And they prove they haven't lost their touch. Some songs still sound as strong as their big hits of the old days. But time has moved on as well and although they certainly don't sound outdated at all the big, impressive, and a bit scary rock lioness has turned into a nice purring rock cat. Still lots to enjoy for the fans though.

Wonderlustre on Spotify
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Friday, 1 October 2010

Has Interpol Run Out Of Fire?

Interpol - Interpol (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
While recording this album they said they would return to the sound of their debut album 'Turn on the Bright Lights'. But listening to it one can only conclude that the band from New York wasn't able to give it the same sparkle as that brilliant album. There aren't any real highlights on the album although there aren't any real lows either. Some songs start promising but just miss the finishing touch to excel. They seem to just ripple on without any direction and run out of fire before the end. The album does need to grow on you but in the end it's not enough. On top of that bassist Carlos Dengler left before their world tour. Let's hope everything comes together after all when they go on stage. Read more!