Monday 24 June 2013

At The Centre Of The Cosmos With The Black Crowes

After a two year absence The Black Crowes are back where they started their indefinite hiatus, Paradiso Amsterdam. Or the centre of the cosmos as the band from Atlanta calls the Dutch rock temple. They always had a special relationship with this venue and seeing them play here is a real treat.

The Black Crowes at Paradiso Amsterdam, June 19 2013

Brothers Chris and Rich Robinson have a complicated love-hate relationship and need some time away from each other now and then. Chris released another Chris Robinson Brotherhood record and Rich toured in support of his second solo album during this last hiatus. It gave them enough time to recharge and pick up The Black Crowes where they left off.

It's good to see how well the band came out of their hibernation. With the scent of incense they take us on a trip through time and space, that can be considered one of their finest. They prove tonight, still to be one of the top live bands around. As if we needed that proof. The combination of blues, soul and Southern rock has been perfected in numerous live shows. Their set list can be different every night, backed up by an impressive collection of wonderful and strong songs. Tonight they lean more heavily towards blues and soul.

Next to big hits 'Jealous Again' and the always wonderful 'Soul Singing', more quiet, soulful gems like 'Thorn In My Pride' and 'Bad Luck Blue Eyes Goodbye' make it into the set. It's one big build up to the epic part of the performance, a fifteen minute jam of 'Wiser Time'. It sums up the whole history and quality of the band in one song. The tight groove machine, driven by drummer Steve Gorman and bass player Sven Pipien. Adam MacDougall's swinging organ, that garnishes the music with some extra spice. The duelling guitars, taking solos by turn that finally lead into a climax where Rich Robinson and new guitarist Jackie Greene go the whole nine yards. And of course the mighty voice of Chris Robinson, who can sing any blues, rock and soul song seemingly effortlessly. His relaxed hippie-like stage performance, with the characteristic dances and moves, is showing that he's totally into it like always. Even a troubling monitor speaker can't put him off.

A two hours and fifteen minutes performance without a weak moment shows The Black Crowes are still at their peak after more than twenty-five years. And with an occasional break now and then the band is nowhere near retirement. And that's very good news for anyone that is fond of this style of music and who should get a chance to see The Black Crowes at least once in their life.

More Pictures
More Videos

Official Website | MySpace | Facebook | YouTube | Spotify

01. Under a Mountain
02. Good Morning Captain
03. Hotel Illness
04. Black Moon Creeping
05. Bad Luck Blue Eyes Goodbye
06. Magic Rooster Blues
07. Medicated Goo (Traffic cover)
08. Wiser Time
09. She Talks to Angels
10. Whoa Mule
11. By Your Side
12. Soul Singing
13. Sometimes Salvation
14. Jealous Again
15. Thorn in My Pride
16. Oh Josephine
17. Oh! Sweet Nuthin' (The Velvet Underground cover)
18. Willin' (Little Feat cover)

Read more!

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Bad Production Ruins Colossus' Debut

Scandinavia is a true Walhalla when it comes to metal music as you may now. Swedish band Colussus are trying to stick out in the broad choice of metal bands. After releasing an EP, Wake is their first serious attempt. They get their inspiration from bands like Mastodon, Kyuss and Tool. Especially influences by that first band can be heard. You have to think of sludge metal for the most part, sometimes leaning towards stoner, doom and hard rock. In short this means heavy stuff that's not always light to swallow.

Colossus - Wake (Ronald Says 6 out of 10)

Since the record doesn't go down easy, despite all good intentions. The band is tight and is trying to vary a lot. They did succeed at that by using dynamics and tempo changes and the nine songs are very diverse. But the mediocre production is spoiling it. The drums are too prominent in the mix and the loud snare hits are even distracting. The whole record sounds pretty bad and that's just a real shame. Singer Niklas Eriksson has a way of singing that can get on your nerves after a while. This is very personal of course, but it sounds as if he's trying to enforce his vocals without really finishing them. Some vocal effect is also used now and then, that is thrown around too much.

The long player is really out of balance because of this and therefore the band can't really convince. Despite the help of master drummer Morgan Ågren‎, that you may now from his work with Frank Zappa. He's playing along on 'Kingdoms', one of the better tracks on the second half of the record. That is without a doubt the better half, with fine songs like 'Fungal Gardens' and highlight 'Suncarrier'. It shows the band does have potential and is able to discriminate themselves from the masses. Prog-rock elements are alternating with heavy riffs and swampy grooves. Tempo changes are layed down convincingly and sound natural instead of strained.

Because of the complexity of the songs you should play the record often. But as a result of the lousy production you leave it alone. That is of course killing for an album that needs its time to grow. A real shame for the Swedish band, that deserves a lot more. Maybe they were in a hurry, but with a better and more balanced sound, they could have made a bigger impression. Now it leaves you with a bad feeling instead.

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

Listen to Wake on Spotify.

Official Website | Twitter | Soundcloud | Facebook | YouTube | Spotify

Read more!

Friday 14 June 2013

Queens Of The Stone Age Rise Up From The Dead

Singer and front man Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age almost died during a knee surgery. He had no interest in making music anymore after that, which never happened to him before. He had to find his love for making music again and this dark period caused the long wait of six years for a new QotSA album. In the meantime drummer Joey Castillo left the band, although he still helped out on a few songs. Fortunately the band has a few decent befriended drummers to fill up the gap.

Queens of the Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

Ahead of the release, videos for a few songs were released as a teaser. The four videos, later combined into a 15 minute clip, were showing somewhat eerie but great animations by the artist Boneface. They were part of a thought out promotional campaign around the new album. For sure everyone had to know about it. At the same time more and more details were revealed. Including the many guest appearances and cameos by famous artists.

Master drummer Dave Grohl(who else) filled in the vacant drum throne together with The Mars Volta's Jon Theodore, who's also touring with the band. Usual suspects like Alain Johannes, Alex Turner, Mark Lanegan and Trent Reznor all offer their contribution on the record, although in some cases they are small. Surprisingly Elton John and lost son Nick Oliveri helped out too. But of course the core of the band is still Josh Homme & Co.

His close-to-death experience had a big influence on the record. It does have the heavy killer signature grooves that are so characteristic for the band. But the songs also contain more melody and almost all of them seem to hold some tragic undertone. Homme explained, that when you're down on the ground you find out who your real friends are. This is the subject for 'Fairweather Friends'.

It seems every single time I was bleeding
Broken promises that never came true
Well it ain't so long before the dawn
When the sun is gone so are
Well, so are you

Homme is displaying himself as a first class crooner on ballad 'The Vampyre Of Time And Memory', like he already did on the Them Crooked Vultures track 'Interlude With Ludes'. 'If I Had A Tail' could become an instant fan favourite with its irresistible groove that would have fit the TCV record as well.

Mostly the songs are mid tempo instead of the familiar up tempo stadium rockers, or start out like that before they explode into heavy riffs like 'Kalopsia'. The band had to dig deep into themselves this time to reach their inner core, the essence of QotSA. The result is a non-standard QotSA album, that offers plenty of variation, new insights and multiple layers. Maybe the fans that like the hard stuff, need more time to get used to it. But even for those fans ...Like Clockwork has plenty to offer. QotSA had to be raised from the dead, like the mummy being raised from the dead by a crow in the video for 'I Appear Missing'. They had to reinvent themselves, but in the end came out stronger than ever.

Listen to ...Like Clockwork on Spotify

Official Website | MySpace | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Spotify

Read more!

Tuesday 11 June 2013

The National Are In Full Control

They kept us waiting for quite a while. Brooklyn based band The National took their time after their highly successful and critically acclaimed album High Violet. That album put them on top of the musical food chain and on top of my year list in 2010. For the past few years everyone was eagerly awaiting their successor.

The National - Trouble Will Find Me (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

Backtracking through their discography it's safe to say the band improved with every album. Their self-titled debut displayed an average indie band, but especially Boxer already exposed some of the unique qualities that eventually bloomed in High Violet. Fortunately we can conclude that they were able to maintain this high standard. But this time the difference lies more in small and subtle details.

It's not the same big step they took in between previous albums. That of course is just a luxury problem. It shouldn't be a surprise that the new album has the same sad feeling that we're used to. Like before they are not only depressing songs. There's always a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it's a pale one now and then. The band sounds very confident on the record.

The songs are nicely balanced, well produced and never do you hear a superfluous note. Some subtle piano notes here and there, a bit of trumpet, all well proportioned, the band has complete control. Especially in the middle does the album reach great heights. 'Graceless', 'Slipped' and 'I Need My Girl', consecutive tracks on the record, are simply gorgeous songs. They make the world stop turning for a moment, while all you can do is listen breathlessly and let the music completely overtake you.

There are plenty of gems on the album, 'Fireproof' and 'Heavenfaced' for example are beautiful. Singer Matt Berninger doesn't write about happy things, he's trying to chase his demons away, trying to make sense of it all. Or not. Nor do his lyrics always reveal what he's singing about. Some are just dark heart breaking poems.
Remember when you lost your shit and
Drove the car into the garden
And you got out and said I’m sorry
To the vines and no one saw it
Does this make it the perfect The National album, their masterpiece? No, they raised the bar so high on High Violet, that it's more a matter of consolidation. The time they will finally drop their master piece, is the time they will blow us away. That time is near, but not upon us yet. In the meantime let's be patient and just treasure and be happy with Trouble Will Find Me.

Listen to Trouble Will Find Me on Spotify.

Official Website | MySpace | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Spotify
Read more!

Friday 7 June 2013

The Breeders Celebrate Last Splash With Giggles

Twenty years ago Kim Deal proved there was a life after Pixies and dropped Last Splash with her band The Breeders. Especially 'Cannonball' left a big impression and is still one of the anthems of that generation. Now the band is celebrating with a deluxe re-release of the album packed with extras and a tour.

The Breeders At Paradiso, June 3 2013

After the CBC gig a few days ago, this was another trip down memory lane. The ladies look a bit bigger than they used to, but are in a great mood. They are smiling throughout the whole show and are delighted to see so many people showing up to their party. They are playing an integral version of the famous album, which means 'Cannonball' is already the second song on the set list. It's also a song that's not really illustrative for the whole record, that's actually a bit more tough to swallow. Especially when played as a whole, including all the small bits and short songs like 'S.O.S.' and closer 'Roi (reprise)'. Some things haven't changed at all: the vocals aren't exactly spot on and the band is playing far from tight. They were never the tightest band to begin with and it actually adds to the image of the band.

The ladies look like they were watching Oprah just before the show and didn't have time to change. The plentiful mistakes are laughed at and sometimes a look from another band member is enough for them to start giggling. This may seem cute in the beginning, but is getting a bit too much on the far end. Also the breaks in between songs are quite long, where they spend a lot of time fiddling around with their instruments and amps. Sometimes an uncooperative instrument or device causes a confused look as if they are on a stage for the first time and have no idea how to work the equipment. The show doesn't get a chance to really take off this way.

But at other times it's clear why this band and album were so meaningful. Of course during the big hit 'Cannonball', but also when they perform songs like 'Flipside' and 'Saints'. After playing the album they take a short break and come back for two encores with a few more of their hits including the great 'Safari'. The celebrated album itself still is a monument in music history without a doubt. But the way it was performed was a bit too cheesy from time to time. It didn't really do justice to the status of the record. Still it was a fun night out and an enjoyable celebration, but nothing spectacular like the guest of honour itself, Last Splash.

More Pictures
More Videos

Official Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Spotify

01. New Year
02. Cannonball
03. Invisible Man
04. No Aloha
05. Roi
06. Do You Love Me Now?
07. Flipside
08. I Just Wanna Get Along
09. Mad Lucas
10. Divine Hammer
11. S.O.S.
12. Hag
13. Saints
14. Drivin' on 9 (Ed's Redeeming Qualities cover)
15. Roi (Reprise)
Encore 1
16. Shocker in Gloomtown (Guided by Voices cover)
17. Head To Toe
18. Happiness is a Warm Gun (The Beatles cover)
19. Safari
20. Oh!
21. Lime House
Encore 2
22. Iris
23. Don't Call Home

Read more!

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Men Are Boys Again With Claw Boys Claw

There are a few certainties in life. The sun rises in the morning, the pope is a catholic and clowns are scary. Another one is that a Claw Boys Claw show is always great fun. We've known that for thirty years now. So with a new record out and a club tour it's time to meet our friends again and prepare for an old fashioned good night of rock 'n' roll.

Claw Boys Claw at Paradiso Amsterdam, May 31 2013

The fan base of Claw Boys Claw has grown older with the band. While singer Peter te Bos is in his sixties, most of the fans are now in their forties and fifties. Where they had to find babysitters ten years ago, now some of them are bringing their kids to the show. And so a dad is carrying his daughter on his shoulders while he's carefully bobbing to the music. A CBC gig is the perfect place to take your children to anyway. It's a safe and pleasant place with only happy people and you'll know that they'll be hooked for life on CBC. The foursome start out on a quiet pace. Singer Peter Te Bos and guitarist John Cameron are the hardcore members of the band. Bass player Marcus Bruystens started playing when they reincarnated in 2007. Last year they completed their line-up again with drummer Jeroen Kleijn, who happens to be one of my favourite Dutch drummers.

It doesn't take long for the band to pick up the pass. Te Bos is moving around the stage in his familiar somewhat awkward locomotion, smiling for most of the gig. Cameron is looking like a wobble head at the front of the stage, with his body moving to the groove while his curly hair is jumping up and down. It can be tempting for a thirty year old band to mostly stick to their hits. But CBC doesn't and has mixed in many songs of their outstanding new album Hammer. Although maybe most people don't know these songs, it's hard to tell which are old and which are new songs. They're all equally well received and the growing pit that formed in front of the stage is dancing just as hard to all of them. Ageing forty year olds turn into teenage boys again, while they are pogoing like in their prime years.

A CBC technical rider will have a 25 meter microphone cable on it. Simply because Te Bos will always jump off the stage and start walking around the venue in the middle of a song. This time Bruystens is joining him and the crowd doesn't even mind carrying him for a bit. Te Bos begs Cameron to join in and eventually he is crowd surfing as well. Half way the show Kleijn is the only one still playing on stage. If he could have picked up his drum kit he would have jumped off stage with it as well I'm sure. Before it's over we get treated to two encores and after 'Superkid' and Iggy & The Stooges cover 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' the two hour show is over. Lights switch on again and the balding and grey haired crowd, who are also a bit more heavy around the waist, make their way out to relieve their baby sitters. But the twinkle in their eyes is still showing the young kid inside, that was allowed out for a while tonight.

More Pictures

Official Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Soundcloud | Spotify

Read more!