Tuesday 28 January 2014

Exciting Jazz With Benjamin Herman Quartet

Last year Benjamin Herman showed that you can make old jazz standards sound fresh by playing them with respect and lots of excitement. His album Café Solo has some old jazz favourites that have been done many times, but his trio play them like they are brand new. Now he is releasing a live album with a quartet and is playing a small tour in support of it.

Benjamin Herman Quartet at Bimhuis Amsterdam, January 25 2014

The trio consisting of drummer Joost Patočka and bass player Ernst Glerum has been extended into a quartet with piano player Miguel Rodriguez. It adds another dimension to the music. Herman's recognizable alto sax sound colours nicely with Rodriguez' sparkling piano play. Herman regularly steps away from the spot light to let the rest shine. Glerum and Patočka are getting the best out of each other while occasionally exchanging naughty smiles like school boys. Herman sometimes needs to bring them back in line. In solos the musicians are challenging each other and even manage to surprise the other band members now and then.

It only shows how much these musicians enjoy playing their music. The crowd notices this as well and are getting more and more excited with each song. Herman is using the same enthusiasm when he's talking about the songs in between. His small tongue-in-cheek speeches make it a light performance. Nothing heavy, just a bunch of very talented musicians and a hungry crowd. He introduces Henry Macini's 'Lujon' by referring to "The Dude's" trip in 'The Big Lebowski' where the song was used.

Although playing a few songs from Café Solo like 'Summertime' and 'Yakhal’ Inkomo', he's not only sticking to songs from that record. Instead the four are also playing songs from several other albums and jazz standards like 'You Must Believe In Spring'. In the end this band shows where the fun is in jazz and music in general. They could even put a smile on the face of the most grumpy person.

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Friday 24 January 2014

Mintzkov Deserves A Lot More

Back in 2000 Belgian band Mintzkov won Humo's Rock Rally, a big national band competition. A bright future was lying ahead of them. That didn't quite happen in terms of popularity and fame. They still are relative unknown band outside Belgium. That is actually quite surprising and unfair since there's absolutely nothing wrong with their music. They fit right in with other big Belgian bands like Soulwax, Millionaire and dEUS.

Mintzkov - Sky Hits Ground (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

Mintzkov are especially compared to that last band, maybe even too much. However it is not surprising, since the bands have many things in common and zinger Philip Bosschaerts sounds a lot like dEUS' Tom Barman too. This isn't any different on their fourth long player Sky Hits Ground, that they produced themselves this time. Just listen to the sharp but beautiful 'Arial Black'. This song also shows they do have their own sound. Keyboard lines are used next to guitars in a creative way. It is always tasteful and subtle like all the other instruments. The band knows when to hold back and prevents that everything is clogged.

Instead the different parts are squirming around each other as you can hear in the heavy 'Runner's High'. A while ago the band had to overcome the heavy loss of their former guitar player Bert van den Roye. This has clearly found its way into the record, which is often dark. 'All Names Have Been Changed' and 'Sky Hits The Ground' are sad and melancholic songs. This doesn't mean the whole album is dark and heavy. It also has songs like 'Arena', that has a nice, gritty and edgy groove, and the beautiful sultry 'Word Of Mouth'.

With Sky Hits Ground Mintzkov prove again they are among the best bands Belgium has to offer, which is quite something. Since with the apparent inexhaustible stream of talented and qualitively great bands that are from there, this says a lot. And the comparison with the great dEUS is nothing bad at all. Especially not when you are matching up to them. It's about time that Mintzkov get what they deserve outside Belgium. So go see for yourself at one of club shows they are playing in coming months.

This review has been published on Festivalinfo in Dutch over here.

Listen to Sky Hits Ground on Spotify.

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Thursday 23 January 2014

Listen To Dave Grohl's Early Years in Dain Bramage

Whether you like it or not, Dave Grohl is one of the most iconic musicians in present day rock music. As a drummer he may just be one of the most important rock drummers of the nineties. Back in 1986 before people even knew him and while he was still smoking pot in high school, he used to play in a band called Dain Bramage. Some recordings have been discovered and you can listen over here: Read more!

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Three Times Fun in Effenaar Eindhoven

In the nineties Claw Boys Claw rocked the Dutch live scene, Bettie Serveert was one of our favourite alternative bands and Hallo Venray was making its way up in the low lands. Now a few decades later in a new century they are still around and are playing a rare triple bill night in Eindhoven.

Hallo Venray, Bettie Serveert, Claw Boys Claw at Effenaar Eindhoven, January 10 2013

Hallo Venray
It's been a very long time since I have seen Hallo Venray for the last time. They were relatively successful in the beginning, but chose a different road afterwards. One that may commercially be less attractive, but was more interesting in a creative way. Tonight they are focusing on their upcoming album SHOW. It's a bold choice and especially in the beginning this pays off with nice songs. After that first part, the songs are going down in tempo and this also slows down the performance. Since they are unknown songs to most of us, it is hard for many people to stay focused. Hallo Venray prove however still to be an interesting band that doesn't like to take the easy road.

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Bettie Serveert
Up next are Bettie Serveert who released a new album Oh, Mayhem! last year. It's a solid rock album and they play a few songs of it tonight. Mixed in are some of their greatest hits of the past twenty something years. This band has also changed a lot in this time. The line up is different and their sound is now more heavy on the rock side. This is pleasing many of the people tonight who are mostly well into their forties. Bettie Serveert still is one of the favorites to this crowd.

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Claw Boys Claw
You can leave it to Claw Boys Claw to close the night with a bang. The band do what they can do best and have been doing from the beginning: give it all they've got until beer is flying around, everyone is eighteen again and has a big smile on their face. Like the other two bands they too have a new album which was almost a year ago. It's the last show in support of Hammer and it's clear they want it to end in style. Together with many of their big hits they do exactly that.

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These three bands prove that although their real glory days may be behind them, they still have plenty to offer and shouldn't be ignored. There's enough to see and hear that new and younger bands can learn from.

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Wednesday 8 January 2014

TOY Are Searching For Right Balance

Backed up by The Horrors, UK band TOY released a promising debut album in 2012 that even made it into my top 10 of that year. Their psychedelic rock and shoegaze songs sound refreshing and nostalgic at the same time. Fortunately we didn't have to wait long for the follow up Join The Dots which was released last month. Its title track sure worked up an appetite for more.

TOY - Join The Dots (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)

The record starts off with a long jam 'Conductor'. The track has no vocals and evolves around a repeating theme. While the album progresses it sounds as if the band is searching for their sound. It is swinging between more compact pop songs and psychedelic jams. The band doesn't know which one to pick.

This doesn't always result in the most consistent songs. 'Endlessly' and 'Left To Wander' for example show potential but you still get the idea something is missing. After you're done listening the songs don't leave a lasting impression. However in some songs things do come together and in those moments the band are a delight to listen to. This is most obvious in the title track 'Join The Dots' with its irresistible groove. It combines the best of their pop sound and their psychedelic and shoegaze side. It's one of those songs that will put you in a trance.

The album closes with another long jam. 'Fall Out Of Love' is an almost ten minute trip that seems to go on for ever. It kind of sums up what the album is about. Not all of it is interesting but it has its good parts. Those moments are enough to make Join The Dots an enjoyable listen. It also does show there's enough potential in the band. But for now they are mostly looking for the right balance. And that's okay. I do get the feeling that in the end it will all work out for them.

Listen to 'Join The Dots' on Spotify.

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Monday 6 January 2014

New Sounds: Bruce Springsteen - High Hopes

The Boss is back with a new album. It accidentally leaked last week, or maybe it wasn't an accident. Anyway now it is streaming a week ahead of its release. Take a listen down below. What do you think?

The SoundCloud stream didn't work any more. So click here to go over to a site that has a stream to the album.

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