Saturday 31 December 2011

Top 10 Albums 2011

Normally I don't do top 10 lists myself. But since I'm a writer for ROAR E-Zine, a Dutch music website, and they asked all their writers to come up with one I might as well post it over here as well.

The hard thing about year lists is, that they seem final, but in reality are just snapshots. So here's my 2011 snapshot:

01. The Black Keys - El Camino

And then The Black Keys release a great album just before the closing of the year that ends up at the top of my list. They seem to have found the perfect formula for great rock tunes: songs that are great compositions, keep on going and that I want to hear over and over again.

02. Arctic Monkeys - Suck It And See
Just like the Arctic Monkeys who took revenge with Suck It And See for the, in my opinion, unjustified moderate response on predecessor Humbug. When they can keep up this level I expect a true classic in one or two albums.

03. White Denim - "D"

White Denim also keeps on delivering quality. "D" turned into a true piece of art.

04. Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Girls had their definite breakthrough with their Father, Son, Holy Ghost that is full of nice indie songs.

05. dEUS - Keep You Close

And 2011 is without a doubt dEUS' year. Keep You Close left a big impression and meantime they are doing a true victory tour around clubs and festivals.

06. Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part Two

Beasty Boys came back hard this year with a great album, that can measure up to their greatest work.

07. Foo Fighters - Wasting Light

With a smart promotional campaign no one could ignore Foo Fighters' Wasting Light. And it's just as I like it: like a hit in the crotch and a kick in the ass.

08. TV On The Radio - Nine Types of Light

TV On The Radio is a different cup of tea; a well thought through album with intelligent songs.

09. Radiohead - The King Of Limbs

Just like Radiohead and their The King Of Limbs. Sometimes they are too much for me, but this album is nicely balanced.

10. Happy Camper - Happy Camper

And there were great Dutch releases, that just missed my list. Happy Camper did make it with its beautiful atmospheric songs and the wonderful varied vocals.

So there you have it. 2011 was a good year with great music and some great gigs as well. I can't wait for 2012! Happy New Year!
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Wednesday 28 December 2011

The Black Keys End The Year With A Blow

One of the last releases many people were waiting for this year was the new The Black Keys album El Camino. A while ago they gave us 'Lonely Boy' with its great video that went viral to their own surprise. The release of Brothers raised the bar high and many people had great expectations. And boy they did not disappoint us!

The Black Keys - El Camino (Ronald Says 9 out of 10)
In fact they even raised the bar a little more. Their sound is even more polished. Long gone are the times of rough blues rock. In this case however it's not a bad thing. Brothers already gave us catchy rock tunes but still with a rootsy blues sound. But also with enough pop for a wider audience. El Camino takes it a step further. And yet they managed to stay clear of the pitfall where so many bands fail. They did it without selling out and overproducing the album. Danger Mouse who only produced one song on Brothers did the whole album again this time. And apparently it's a golden combo.

It's as if they have found the cooking bible to writing great rock songs. Every single song is a little gem that has great hooks. There isn't a weak moment to be found. 'Lonely Boy' was the perfect choice to release as a first single and is a great representative for the album. 'Dead And Gone', 'Money Maker', 'Sister', 'Stop Stop', to name but a few all have great guitar licks and grooves. The riff in 'Run Right Back' may be simple, but it's brilliant at the same time. And every time you play this record it gets better. I just can't stop listening to it. And so The Black Keys end this year with great fireworks.

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Saturday 24 December 2011

Yearly Party With De Dijk

Another year running at its end, another December, so this means another De Dijk show at Paradiso. I've lost count on how many times I have seen them play. Many of those were Paradiso shows, the place that's their second home.

De Dijk at Paradiso Amsterdam, December 17 2011 (Ronald Says 9 out of 10)
There's not much I can tell without repeating myself. It sounds pretty boring: year after year we find ourselves there with the same band, that partly play the same songs although they do have their new songs of course. But in reality it never is boring. It's one big party with great music. And although all editions may sound alike they are not.

This year turns out to be a great one. The sound is great, the band looks focused, comfortable, in great shape and in an excellent mood. And the new album has songs that work great on stage too. I'm with my usual group of friends, drinking cold beers and the world doesn't seem bigger than Paradiso's main hall for a few hours. And isn't that what it's all about?

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Monday 19 December 2011

Back To The Dark 80s With The Horrors

Many people were pleasantly surprised when The Horrors released their latest album Skying earlier this year. The songs move between new wave, noise and punk and the electronics add a dark touch to it. The album ended up high on many year lists. They should have played with Halloween but it was postponed until tonight.

The Horrors at Melkweg Amsterdam, December 11 2011 (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
They would definitely be a perfect band to play with Halloween and not just because of their name. The sometimes gloomy music combined with the lighting that has them standing in the shadow most of the time, suits a pumpkin party well. It was killing for my pictures though, so I only was able to get a few that are decent enough to upload. And even those aren't great.

But it's the music that counts and that's all fine. They play a tight set and their songs work great on stage. It shows that all the critics heard it well, since it's clear the songs of the last album are really good. They sound like Simple Minds and Talk Talk in their heydays, mixed with some Joy Division darkness. Singer Faris Badwan sounds convincing and the tight band make good use of playing loud accents.

The synths add the extra dimension that lifts the songs from nice to great. Tracks like 'I Can See Through You' and 'Still Life' go down well and they impress with a sold performance of 'Sea Within A Sea'. There's hardly any interaction with the crowd but that only contributes to their stage presentation. It does stay all a bit on the safe side and the band seems to play on routine and is leaning back too much. Maybe next time they could spice up their set list a bit more to keep it interesting enough for themselves. The Horrors won't scare you, but their music may give you some shivers now and then.

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1.Changing The Rain
2.Who Can Say
3.I Can See Through You
4.Scarlet Fields
5.Dive In
6.Endless Blue
7.Sea Within A Sea
8.Still Life
9.Mirror's Image
10.Three Decades
11.Moving Further Away
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Tuesday 13 December 2011

Wolfendale's Mysterious World

With a mutual background in cinema and animation Sander Strick and Marc van den Boom started making a record. Both are from Eindhoven, the town where big multinational Philips produced its first light bulb. The band Woldendale was formed, named after British astronomer Arnold Wolfendale. In an old Philips building they put down a studio to write and record songs. After they got signed by V2 Benelux the album was finished by no one less that Joe LaPorta, who has worked with Foo Fighters and Vampire Weekend in the past. The result is Foghorn, named after the first line in the mysterious David Lynch TV series 'Twin Peaks' from the nineties: "The lonesome foghorn blows", spoken by Pete Martell, a character played by Jack Nance.

Wolfendale - Foghorn (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
And so we run into the cinematic background of the duo everywhere. Since not only the album's title, but everything in their music is breathing cinema. And this movie world that they created is mysterious and dark. In a clever way they patiently use their musical landscapes to shape this world. As they put it themselves: "Music that's looking for dusk instead of sunlight". And for that matter the title was chosen effectively. It raises images of misty landscapes and twilight worlds, a mystical fantasy world, with a little surprise behind every tree. Master filmmaker Lynch couldn't have thought it up any better.

The music if full of variation; progrock-like pieces are alternating with more jazzy and folk-like songs. It reminds of Pink Floyd, Radiohead and sometimes Motorpsycho too. But the atmosphere is always the binding factor on the album. The highlights are mostly in the first part of the record. Dreamy guitars in 'Dr. Henry Kazoo', the beautiful 'Red Sparrow' that fluently transforms into title track 'Foghorn'. And then the wonderful 'Ending Up' with its nice harmonies. The sound effects complete and intensify the the atmospere even more.

Like a ship that slowly moves through the fog, passes Foghorn steadily along. With closed eyes you perceive a foghorn in the distance through the splashing water. David Lynch could come up with a movie for it easily. Every spin discloses new discoveries. Wolfendale is a worthy addition to the Dutch music catalogue with international potential. They could even make to the elite league of the Dutch music scene.

This review has been published on ROAR E-Zine in Dutch over here.

Listen to 'Keep You Close' on Spotify.

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Saturday 10 December 2011

Early Christmas Present With Smith & Burrows

What do you do when you're in a big rock band and after making albums and extensive touring you have some time to spare? You make an album with a good friend and play some club shows. Just for the fun. That's exactly what Tom Smith of the Editors did. He teamed up with good friend Andy Burrows, ex-drummer of Razorlight, and they made an album named Funny Looking Angels. It even turned into a Christmas album.

Smith & Burrows at Paradiso, December 5 2011 (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

The songs on the album are mostly covers and only a handful of new songs. It hardly feels like a Christmas album. Although it's lighter than the Editors, it has a bit of a dark feel to it, which suits that time of the year. For the occasion Paradiso has put down chairs so half of the audience is sitting down. The stage has some Christmas lighting to get us in the mood. The funny thing is, that today we're celebrating "Sinterklaas" in The Netherlands, which to us definitely isn't about Christmas trees and lights at all.

They start off with the nice cover of Black's 'Wonderful Life'. Smith's voice is perfect for it and it definitely does the song justice. Andy Burrows is behind the piano, that's positioned in such a way, that the right side of the crowd can hardly see him. Unfortunately this includes us and so we only get to see him when it's his turn to sing a song. This is the setup for tonight: Smith and Burrows take turns in singing a few songs while the other is playing the piano. In the meanwhile their band is staying in the background but doing a great job at the same time. Isabelle Dunn's chello is fitting the music really well.

Of course one album isn't enough to fill a concert and so they throw in some Editors and Razorlight songs. Especially the Editors songs lend themselves really well for this more or less acoustic setup. The already brilliant 'Papillon' grows even more as we could already hear on Studio Brussel a while ago. But also there are great versions of 'The Weight Of The World' and 'Walk The Fleet Road'. Burrows cannot compete with the strong vocals of Smith. His voice is just not as solid, although he's definitely doing a decent job. Razorlight's 'America' and 'Before I Fall To Pieces' even have the crowd hesitantly clapping along.

Most of all the two are having lots of fun. There's time for joking around and even screwing a few things up. Smith starts off Yazoo's 'Only you' too fast and they have to start over. That song, like on the album, feels really out of place with Burrows' falsetto vocals. At one point there's a small intermezzo with a tombola where people are winning a Barbara Streisand vinyl record, a t-shirt and a mug. Smith even goes over to the winner of a bottle of booze on the balcony to hand it over personally, while the band is playing the Rocky tune. And so this is just one great merry get-together with some great musicians. From time to time it turns magical, like in the final song of the night 'When The Tames Froze', where they are both wearing wings. And so everyone is already feeling the Christmas spirit when we leave. I hope Sinterklaas doesn't mind.

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01. Wonderful Life (Black)
02. Funny Looking Angels
03. Papillon (Editors)
04. The Weight Of The World (Editors)
05. If I Had A Heart (Andy Burrows)
06. Only You (Yazoo)
07. America (Razorlight)
09. No Sound But The Wind (Editors)
10. Walk The Fleet Road (Editors)
11. Half A World Away (R.E.M.)
12. On And On (Longpigs)
13. Before I Fall To Pieces (Razorlight)
14. In The Bleak Midwinter (Gustav Holst)
15. The Christmas Song (Mel Tormé)
16. As The Snowflakes Fall
17. This Ain’t New Jersey
18. When The Thames Froze
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Wednesday 7 December 2011

The Dukes Not Victorious Yet

in 2010 singer/guitarist Shanka and drummer Greg Jack formed The Dukes, after they had been playing together a lot in a band named "No One Is Innocent". They did a small European tour and recorded their debut album Victory. They already played the Melkweg in support of The Subways in October. According to themselves they were inspired by bands like The Dandy Warhols, The White Stripes and Nirvana. And the album holds thirteen of those raw garage rock tracks.

The Dukes - Victory (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)
And indeed those influences can be clearly heard. Some of the songs like 'Resilient Lovers' strongly remind you of especially The Dandy Warhols. The band is lacking their own sound here. The song named after themselves on the other hand is a rough song with screaming guitars. Slower songs are following it and there's quite some variation. In title track 'Victory', where Garbage clearly can be heard, the monotonous vocals in the choruses aren't helping the song. The vocals aren't always that great throughout the album anyway.

The production is pretty smooth now and then, maybe even a bit too much. The music loses too much of its edge and energy in that case. Since especially in the energetic songs, where the band is going full force, that's where The Dukes are at their best. The strong 'The Mangler' is a song that does work. The musicians sound more in their comfort zone there and that's where their strength is. They should stay clear from wanting to sound too much like their inspirations. This was evident in their half an hour in the Melkweg. The boys have enough quality and experience to put down something of their own.

Victory is showing too many faces. The album is flying into every direction. Sometimes it's strong, but it has just as many weak moments. When the band are able to focus on their strong points and continue into that direction, it could lead to something nice. It's not a bad album, but they are definitely not leaving a lasting impression.

This review has been published on ROAR E-Zine in Dutch over here.

Listen to 'Victory' on Spotify.

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Wednesday 30 November 2011

Geike Can Stand On Her Own Feet

For years she had been the face and voice of Hooverphonic. But three years ago Geike Arnaert left this confident environment to pursue a solo career. Hooverphonic found a new singer in Noémie Wolfs and a year ago released the first album without Arnaert. Striking enough this turned into the most successful album for them so far. And now she's releasing her own debut album For The Beauty Of Confusion, simply as Geike.

Geike - For The Beauty Of Confusion (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Hooverphonic changed their sound the last few years. The dark, mostly trip-hop songs, similar to Portishead and Massive Attack, were replaced with more pop/rock songs. Maybe that was the reason for the break, since Geike stays closer to the old Hooverphonic sound. It's impossible not to compare the two. She does give it her own twist. The songs are less dark and sometimes have a more "poppy" sound. Her somewhat pinched, strong, in some parts even powerful voice seems to sound lighter now and then. The variation in songs is giving her the opportunity to showcase what's she's capable of.

The impressive album opener 'In Gold' still is a typical trip-hop song, but in the song after that, 'Icy', another Geike already can be heard. It's a pleasant pop song, that reminds of Tori Amos. The beautiful '107 Windows' could easily have been written by Amos. Halfway the record we find 'Smile', a nice lingering song, which is one of the highlights. To the end of the record there are more slower songs, that aren't all great. The album loses energy there and is sagging a bit. The mediocre rocker 'This Page' also isn't the closer that the record deserves.

In general it's a good debut. It's clear Geike took the time for this album. The production is nice and clean and lots of attention went into the arrangements. She's showing what a wonderful singer she is. It may have been a shock when she announced her parting, but this way it results in an additional choice next to her old band. The Hooverphonic fans, that don't like the new direction, may recognize some of their old love in For The Beauty Of Confusion.

This review has been published on ROAR E-Zine in Dutch over here.

Listen to 'For The Beauty Of Confusion' on Spotify.

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Friday 25 November 2011

dEUS Better Than Ever

With a great new album out and club shows throughout Europe dEUS are taking the continent by storm. And this was a good dEUS year for me as well. I already got to see them three times playing live. But seeing them in Paradiso is of course too good to be true and the ultimate dEUS experience.

dEUS at Paradiso Amsterdam, November 21 2011 (Ronald Says 10 out of 10)

But first up are another band from Belgium, Intergalactic Lovers. They made a good impression on me at the Into The Great Wide Open festival a few months ago so we make sure to arrive in Paradiso on time to see their support show. And they are looking great again. As if they are used to playing venues and stages of this size, they comfortably treat us to their nice indie songs. When they end their show the hall has filled up considerably and they get a good round of applause. I think they made many new friends tonight. We even got a three song promo CD when we came in, but I wanted the real thing, so got me their full album. I hope to see and hear a lot more from them in the future.
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The sold out venue has now warmed up nicely for the main act. They get up on stage looking eager and Tom Barman has a big smile on his face. A smile that he will show more often tonight. Since it all seems to come together on this stage tonight. I mentioned earlier that this band looks and sounds very tight and that's more than showing tonight. Barman is directing his fellow musicians but probably doesn't have to. Every single one of them is completely into it. Drummer Stéphane Misseghers doesn't look too happy now and then. He seems to have some kind of technical or sound issue and is getting a roadie over several times. Whatever it is, that is bugging him, it doesn't show at all.

From beginning until the end the band is completely in control. And they have everyone eating off their hand. Their songs are always nicely balanced and they know how to build them up with energy. Their whole show is like this now. It just keeps building up energy which is just brilliant. The new songs already sit comfortably among crowd pleasers like 'Little Artithmetics' and 'Instant Street'. Personal favourite 'Bad Timing' never sounded better or more impressive. Before the show is ever they treat us to two encores with a threatening 'Roses' and a vicious 'Theme From Turnpike'.

When the lights come on again we've witnessed two hours of brilliant rock music. A show that ran so smoothly it felt like it was over in a blink of the eye. With beautiful visuals and lighting. I overheard people saying they thought the sound was pretty loud. But since I always wear earplugs I didn't notice anything wrong. This was a night that you want to last forever. A divine experience, music made by the gods, or at least as close as it gets, by dEUS.

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01. The Final Blast
02. The Architect
03. Constant Now
04. Second Nature
05. Oh Your God
06. Little Arithmetics
07. Instant Street
08. If You Don't Get What You Want
09. Dark Sets In
10. Magdalena
11. When She Comes Down
12. Ghost
13. Keep You Close
14. Sister Dew
15. Bad Timing
Encore 1
16. Twice (We Survive)
17. Theme From Turnpike
18. Roses
Encore 2
19. Hotel Lounge
20. Easy
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Wednesday 23 November 2011

Shaking Godspeed Shaking Effenaar

Their first full album 'Awe' was one of the nice surprises in 2010. The band Shaking Godspeed filled it up with a variety of great heavy rock songs with a unique sound. I really wanted to check them out, but every time they were in the neighbourhood it didn't fit my schedule. This was no different when they were scheduled to play in Amsterdam on November 19. I was out of town in Eindhoven, where they were going to play the night before. So I left a day early and finally was able to catch them on stage.

Shaking Godspeed at Effenaar Eindhoven, November 18 2011 (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
They sometimes call Eindhoven the rock city of The Netherlands. But while The Wombats sold out the big hall next door, only around 40-50 people showed up in the small hall to see these three musicians play top notch rock music in its purest form. Maybe their reputation hasn't made it this far south yet? But the band doesn't care and is laying down a great performance.

The heavy songs are solid as a rock and have a full sound. It's a mix of classic hard rock, a bit of stoner and some psychedelica. They are fond of freaky and heavy effects. Guitarist and singer Wout Kemkens can play some mean guitar and is treating us to long solos. Paul Diersen switches between bass and organ all the time, playing groovy bass lines and creative organ parts. Meanwhile drummer Maarten Rischen works up a sweat on his big drum kit that produces a deep sound and has huge hihat cymbals.

Their set doesn't have any weak spots and keeps on rolling all the time. It's impossible to ignore the heavy rocking grooves and in the mostly male audience everyone is nodding their heads to the beat. It's a high energy performance that ends with Rischen trashing a part of his drum kit while Kemkens leaves his guitar screaming on the stage. This band deserves so much more than tonight's pale looking crowd. Currently the band is recording its second album and I really hope it's just as good as their first and gets picked up by a wider audience. Since they are probably one of the most exciting rock bands in our country at the moment.

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Monday 21 November 2011

Bush For Old Time's Sake

When grunge music became popular in the early 90s many bands followed in the slip stream of Seattle's big guns like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Bush was one of those bands that got quite successful themselves. They were criticized as well, claiming the band was hardly original and merely a copycat. I liked them myself and still think their first two albums are pretty good. Now front man Gavin Rossdale revived the band, released a new album and is the band playing club shows around the globe. Time to meet them again.

Bush at Melkweg Amsterdam, November 15 2011 (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)
To be hounest I don't think they ever were able to make an album that got near those two albums. Their latest one isn't any different either. It just picks up where they left off years ago and doesn't offer anything new. And its best songs are only half as good as the mediocre ones on the first two albums. And this shows during their live set too. There are too many songs that don't stick out and during these songs the crowd goes to the bar to get drinks.

Rossdale notices this himself as well and early in the set is thanking the crowd for "clapping selectively". This is a bit of a weird remark since it's the band's job to win the people over. But it's striking for the whole show. Rossdale is a charismatic but mediocre singer. He's working hard and even takes a walk through the crowd during the song 'Afterlife'. His band however looks pretty pale and are playing in the background. It's clear Gavin Rossdale is Bush. And even though 'Machinehead', 'Everything Zen', 'Swallowed' and of course cigarette lighter moment 'Glycerine' are still killer songs, they are not enough to save the day. Bush are passed glory I'm afraid.

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1.The Mirror of the Signs
3.All My Life
4.Greedy Fly
5.I Believe In You
6.The Chemicals Between Us
7.The Sound of Winter
8.Everything Zen Play
9.The Heart of the Matter
10.The People That We Love
11.Be Still My Love
13.The Afterlife
14.Little Things
15.Come Together (The Beatles cover)
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Wednesday 16 November 2011

Rival Sons Want To Take Europe

Rival Sons are a band from LA who play a combination of rock, blues and soul. Led Zeppelin clearly is never far away but they do developed their own style. Their latest album Pressure And Time is a true delight to listen to and they blew me away on Rock Werchter this year. Now they are serious about taking Europe and Amsterdam fortunately was part of their club tour over here.

Rival Sons at Melkweg Amsterdam, November 14 2011 (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
At Rock Werchter they had to work hard to win the people over. This isn't any different tonight. The crowd is quite calm in the beginning but this also the band's own fault. Singer Jay Buchanan admits they partied hard and long the day before and it's showing. His eyes look tiny and he seems a bit absent. They probably couldn't resist to all the temptations Amsterdam has to offer, and had a good taste of those offerings. The band really has to warm up. But after a while they get into it and Buchanan says he's feeling it too. From that moment on the crowd gets really excited.

And which rock lover can resist great rock and blues songs like 'Burn Down Los Angeles'? Guitarist Scott Holiday is getting plenty of space to show off his skills and with a big smile he's firing off one great solo after another. Hard hitter Michael Miley is laughing most of the set and like in Belgium is enjoying a Duvel. The man sure knows his beers.

Bass player Robin Everhart is quietly laying down his bass grooves in the background. The four musicians are clearly having fun and seem like a solid group. Buchanan, who looks like the reincarnation of Jim Morrison and sounds like Robert Plant, has a great voice. He's showing that mostly in a slow blues song like 'On My Way', where he can use his full spectrum.

Of course they play many songs off their latest album that has great songs like 'All Over The Road' and title track 'Pressure And Time'. These go down great with the crowd. But the band cannot get everyone to go completely wild, therefore the fire isn't high enough. Hopefully this band is like a good young wine: its potential is clear but it just needs a few more years to reach its full strength. I'd love to see them back soon and blow everyone away.

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Monday 14 November 2011

Sungrazer: Stoner With A Twist

They won the Nu of Nooit contest and were the opening act of Pinkpop festival in 2010 because of that. In the meantime they had signed a record deal and released a self title debut album. Sungrazer from the south of the Netherlands have worked hard since then. They played many shows and also found the time to record a new album. They are three hard working musicians, that play a mix of 70s psychedelica and stoner rock. Thanks to that the band already shared the stage with Fu Manchu, Karma To Burn and Goatsnake.

Sungrazer - Mirador (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Mirador is also full with nice stoner rock songs and extensive psychedelic jams. It may not be a surprising combination but it's one that works very well. It results in slow heavy grooves, that just keep on rolling while the guitars are going wild. Especially in 'Behind' the engine is in overdrive, which turns into an almost fourteen minute long composition. Because of the repeating riffs and sounds you slowly sink into a trance and you're experiencing the song even more intense.

The boys can also play some straight rock too. They prove that in for example 'Octor', an instrumental piece with a big fat groove. They are a band of few words and prefer to let the music do the talking. The other songs are also mostly instrumental with only some occasional vocals. Monotony is lurking since the jams are so stretched out. Of course that's one of the charms of the album but they could move a bit close to the edge once and a while. Naturally this should never be at the expense of those fine repeating elements, that make the songs so catchy.

There are many stoner rock bands around that all are fishing in the same pond. They mostly sound alike and are copying the big groups. Only a few manage to separate themselves from the rest. Sungrazer is doing this in a highly effective way, by giving it their own twist. This makes Mirador a very tasteful album. It could be more on the edge but this record is proving the band's qualities.

This review has been published on ROAR E-Zine in Dutch over here.

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Wednesday 9 November 2011

Triggerfinger Slowly Tear Down The Place

What a year did Triggerfinger have. About a year ago they released their third album All This Dancin' Around and it only went upward fast from there. They played many shows after that, many in The Netherlands as well, and fortunately didn't pass on Amsterdam at all. After their album presentation in Paradiso last year it was now time for three shows in a row in the Melkweg.

Triggerfinger at Melkweg Amsterdam, November 7 2011 (Ronald Says 9 out of 10)
So they had an incredible year. And well deserved, since they have been around for a while and with a lot of hard work created this mighty beast called Triggerfinger. A well oiled heavy rocking machine with killer live shows. And they prove that tonight again.

With a well thought through set they slowly build up to an ectatic orgasm. They start out with a few slow songs. Heavy lazy grooves are warming up the big machine. They play songs like 'Feed Me' or 'I'm Coming For You' which are perfect for it. Singer and guitarist Ruben Block's microphone seems a bit heavy on echo for a few songs, but this is fixed after a while. By then the machine is already heating up to a nice temperature. The crowd is also giving in by now. The band is shifting gear and is heading for full speed. Mario Goossens is firing off his killer grooves while bassist "Monsieur" Paul is keeping the machine together with his steady bass playing.

Block's vocals are great. His high pitch howls never have sounded better. Together with Goossens he keeps firing up the crowd. By the end of the show the last ones have giving up resistance and surrender to this hard rocking machine. We get another treat when they play their notorious cover version of 'Sweet Dreams' and a beautiful 'It Hasn't Gone Away'.

It all seems to come together tonight. A good thing they were recording this concert for a live DVD. I can't wait for that to come out and relive this night over and over again.

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Watch the entire show over here.

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1.I'm Coming For You
2.On My Knees
3.Short Term Memory Love
5.My Baby's Got A Gun
6.Love Lost In Love
7.All This Dancin' Around
8.Drum Solo
9.First Taste
10.Is It
11.Feed Me
12.Inner Peace
13.Sweet Dreams
(Eurythmics cover)
14.It Hasn't Gone Away
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City Reign Cross Canal With New EP

Half a year ago I wrote about City Reign from Manchester. Their catchy britpop songs sounded promising. They released a few singles and now have an EP out called Numbers Of Street Names. And they even were visiting Amsterdam to present it!

So we headed to a small bar called CC Muziekcafe. It's a small place but it looks nice and cosy. The narrow bar has a stage at the back where the band will play. There's a pleasant atmosphere and we hear people talking English. It turns out some members of their family live in Amsterdam and some even travelled here to see them play.

At the front of the bar, furthest away from the stage, the sound isn't too good. When we move further up front later on it's much better. The band play well, their sound is full and they leave a good impression. The songs are convincing and have enough potential. You can tell the band are serious about their music and already have a professional approach. This is also clear from their website that looks great. At the end of the night I get their new EP. The five songs show too there's enough potential in the band and their music. Songs like 'The Line' and 'Out In The Cold' are great tracks that sound appealing and have good hooks. The only thing missing is some help and experience with producing their music, which could make it even better.

City Reign may just have what it takes to grow into a big band. They certainly have the right attitude and approach. If they can find some experienced people to help them produce their music and get to the next level we may hear a lot more from them in the future. And then maybe we'll see them back in Amsterdam on a festival like London Calling in a short while.

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Monday 7 November 2011

Private Party With Roy Haynes

Jazz drummer Roy Haynes has played with all the big guns, legendary musicians like John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. He turned 86 this year but is till actively playing. Instead of seeing him in Amsterdam's Bimhuis I joined one of my closest friends to see him in Eindhoven instead.

Roy Haynes & The Fountain of Youth Band at Muziekgebouw Frits Philips Eindhoven, November 4 2011 (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
When we get to the wardrobe of the venue, there's only a small number of coats there, while the show will start in five minutes. When we enter the soulless venue itself, that looks more like a university lecture room, it turns out only around fourty people showed up. That really is sad, such great musicians and so few people. When they enter the stage they can't believe it themselves. But the professionals they are, they take their instruments and start playing. Only saxophone player Jaleel Shaw looks like he would have rather stepped off stage right away. He's a good musician but his playing sounds obligatory tonight and without fire.

Piano player Martin Bejerano on the other hand sounds great. He's letting the notes flow beautifully and when he gets a solo all by himself on stage he takes it with both hands. Bass player David Wong also gives his best. His fingers are smoothly plucking the fret board of his bass. Roy Haynes doesn't look like the dramatic attendance bothers him a lot. He's playing some great swing. His solo with mallets is a bit technical, but fun to watch where he seems to be trying out all the sounds a drum kit has. Sometimes he gets up to chat a bit, compliment his band or to do a little rhythmic tap dancing. It's unbelievable this man is already 86!

But the beauty of live performances is the chemistry that can grow between musicians and audience. But with such a small audience in a dead venue that's impossible to achieve tonight. And despite the persistent applause at the end, they don't come back for an encore. And who can blame them. These musicians deserve a full house.

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Friday 4 November 2011

dEUS Is Keeping Us Close

The Belgian band dEUS doesn't need much introduction. For years they have been the proud flagship of the Belgian music scene. With their first couple of albums they immediately delivered some master pieces. The daring songs with a lot of experiments, left a big impression. Live they even got more impressive with lots of room for new interpretations and improvisation.

dEUS - Keep You Close (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
The big disadvantage is that after that every new record will be compared to those classics, and they don't get the credit they deserve. It won't be any different with the latest Keep You Close. It sounds like a luxury to be able to look back to the milestones in the musical land scape that you put there yourself. But the band around Tom Barman will probably disagree. They have moved ahead many years and dEUS is a different band than say fifteen years ago. The current line-up has been together since 2005 and the band acts as a whole. Both on stage and in the studio. And that is clear on the new album, which turned into a real band album. The band never sounded more solid.

The new songs got a bit bigger and more full. They are all proper rock songs. But not just any rock song. Beneath the overwhelming exterior there's unmistakably still dEUS' beating heart. Many songs start with a great groove. For this bass player Alan Gevaert and drummer Stéphane Misseghers deserve many kudos. With a rhythm section like that everything is solid as a rock. "Mr. dEUS" Tom Barman and guitar player Mauro Pawlowski can comfortably build on top of that and Klaas Janzoons can fill in the rest. And so Keep You Close turned into a great album with something to anyone's liking. Modest ('The End Of Romance') or full force ('Ghost'). Guitar power ('Dark Sets In') or more electronic ('Constant Now').

There aren't any songs that stand out, simply because all songs are of the same high level. This album doesn't need to be compared to any of its illustrious predecessors, since it can be valued in itself. dEUS remains a world class top band. And with the extensive club show tour coming up we can see for ourselves. So go check them out!

This review has been published on ROAR E-Zine in Dutch over here.

Listen to 'Keep You Close' on Spotify.

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