Wednesday 30 March 2016

Spinning: Motorpsycho - Here Be Monsters

Not heavy guitar riffs or swelling drums are opening the new Motorpsycho record, but a single piano is playing a quiet melody. It's characteristic for Here Be Monsters, the new addition to the imposing catalogue of the Norwegians, since the seven tracks can be found in the quiet part of their broad spectrum. The band's creative brains are regularly visiting symphonic rock or sparkling jazzy prog rock explosions and anything that can be found in between. This time however the men are looking for more peace and concentrate on melodious rock songs, referring to the sixties of Pink Floyd.

Those sixties are most obvious in the H.P. Lovecraft cover 'Spin, Spin, Spin'. The record found its roots in November 2014 when the band played a concert for the Teknisk Museum's anniversary in Norway. They worked together with Ståle Storløkken, who also cooperated on The Death Defying Unicorn, but this time he was unable to help them rework the arrangements into an album. Of course this wasn't much of a problem for the three experienced musicians who recorded a wonderful LP once again.

'Lacuna Sunrise' is a beautiful song with a refined guitar and a typical hypnotic Motorpsycho middle part. 'I.M.S.', short for "inner mountain shame", starts with a lush piano and then completely opens up when quiet parts alternate with fierce parts. The core of the record is at the end with the dazzling 'Big Black Dog', that tells about the endless dark nights in the cold North in winter. The song, which lasts more than fifteen minutes, has numerous twists with screaking guitars and enchanting moments where the hypnotic drones appear to be endless. These moments are wonderful, mastered to perfection by the band and which make them so unique.

On Here Be Monsters it seems Motorpsycho has returned to their sound in the nineties after many different adventures. Patiently they are crafting attractive and impressive songs. For years now the band seems to have arrived at a level where they can get anything done. Whether it's experimenting, stretching creative boundaries or deepening their sound, it always results in something beautiful. That puts them in an luxurious and enviable position.

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

Listen to 'Here Be Monsters' on Spotify.

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Friday 25 March 2016

On Stage: Michael Kiwanuka @ People's Place

It's been a while since Michael Kiwanuka released his impressive first album. Once I heard his music I immediately loved his soulful songs and warm voice. Ahead of his new album and extensive tour he's playing a few try out shows and fortunately one of them was in my home town.

Michael Kiwanuka at People's Place Amsterdam, March 23 2016

There's no support act tonight but who needs one when you have such an amazing band. Kiwanuka and his musicians are totally into the music, feeling every note. Old songs are mixed with songs from the upcoming album and they sound promising. The new album won't be very different from the first one I guess, it seems he has just broadened his sound.

This means that his classic soul sound that I like so much is still there, but he seems to be rocking more now and then and you can hear more funk and some African influences. His band knows how to handle this without problems and although Kiwanuka mentions they hear a lot of feedback on stage and even stops the band when he wants something to be fixed, from where I'm standing it sounds wonderful.

Kiwanuka's voice is clear and warm, almost soothing for your soul. His band backs him up brilliantly with lush organ and keys, bluesy guitar and a tight rhythm section, who know exactly what the songs need. From time to time the songs are stretched out, like the amazing version of 'Tell Me A Tale'. Sparkling solos and great grooves are added, with lots of dynamics shifting between soft and loud or up and down tempo. It all beautifully flows together and best of all the musicians are having a wonderful time as well. I can't wait for the new album to drop and I'll definitely be there again once he hopefully returns on his tour.

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Thursday 24 March 2016

New Sounds: Bob Mould - Patch The Sky

Bob Mould's Hüsker Dü and Sugar days are long gone by and he has been working on an impressive solo career since then. Patch The Sky is his twelfth solo album which will come out March 25. You can listen to it below.

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Tuesday 22 March 2016

Spinning: Snarky Puppy - Family Dinner Volume Two

Put a few musicians together and something will happen. That's probably what the jazz collective Snarky Puppy around bass player Michael League must have thought when they started their "Family Dinner" project. For the first edition a few years ago they brought some singers together in combinations that you wouldn't expect. It resulted in something very nice and they wanted to repeat the idea. But this time no only singers were invited, but also other musicians. They chose for New Orleans to compose the songs in six days, performing them live afterwards. It eventually resulted in Family Dinner Volume Two with eight very varied compositions, that are all beautiful in their own way.

And so on 'Soro' you can find Malinese singer Salif Keita together with two Brazilians, flute player Carlos Malta and pandeiro player Bernardo Aguiar. The result is a beautiful song that starts melancholically with lush vocals by Keita and then turns around in a swinging exotic mix halfway, propelled by the two Brazilians. On 'Don't You Know' multi-instrumentalist and boy wonder Jacob Collier goes crazy with sousaphone player Big Ed Lee, a mind blowing track of more than 10 minutes.

It keeps on going with dizzying and sparkling play by Snarky Puppy and the queer, but successful combinations. Laura Mvula together with organist Michelle Willis in the dreamy 'Sing To The Moon', triple Grammy winner sax player Jeff Coffin with the electronic duo Knower in a swinging combination with a nice funky sax solo by Coffin. As dessert no one less than David Crosby can close the record in the modest song 'Somebody Home', that he introduces himself with a good sense of humour.

Snarky Puppy's musicians once again prove how talented they are and that they know exactly what a song needs. With all these different artists and styles, that result in different compositions, they make sure it still stays coherent. That in itself already is quite an achievement. A lot of enthusiasm and good vibes added to the mix makes Family Dinner Volume Two a feast for your ears.

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

Listen to 'Family Dinner Volume Two' on Spotify.

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Friday 18 March 2016

On Stage: Savages @ Melkweg

A few months ago Savages released their second album Adore Life, that continued their dark post-punk sound, but also showed a more mellow side of the all-female band. It only makes their music even more intense. Let's see if this also is the case live on stage.

Savages at Melkweg Amsterdam, March 16 2016

Unfortunately I don't make it on time to catch support act Bo Ningen, which is a shame, since the London based Japanese band sound interesting enough to check out. Black is the colour of Savages so the ladies are all dressed in black on a dark stage lighted by bright spots and strobes now and then. It all is part of the Savages world, a dark and sometimes gloomy place, dominated by strong women. Their music is quite aggressive and always edgy where singer Jehnny Beth's piercing eyes are staring at you while she spits out her lyrics.

But on the new record the band is taking it slower now and then and also show a more friendly face. This makes their sounds more balanced and interesting where both faces are showing in a song like 'Slowing Down The World'. These moments make the heavy songs even more impressive and their show profits from this as well. Of course songs like 'Husbands' and 'Evil' are plenty with their pounding almost techno like grooves and heavy guitars. But the tracks 'Mechanics' and 'Adore', show a more sensitive side of the band and Beth as well. It narrows the distance between the crowd and her and she can show a more charming side of her.

Beth is a great front woman any way, performing with a lot of heart and convincingly, seeking contact with the people at the front, never losing control. At one point she fearlessly steps into the crowd who are holding her up like a modern Cleopatra, while she keeps on singing. In the final encore the group, who seem to be enjoying themselves, go full speed ahead one more time with a violent 'Fuckers', while the members of Bo Ningen join them one by one. It's a beautiful ending to a tight and convincing show from a band in killer shape.

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01. I Am Here
02. Sad Person
03. City's Full
04. Slowing Down the World
05. Shut Up
06. She Will
07. Husbands
08. Surrender
09. Evil
10. When In Love
11. I Need Something New
12. The Answer
13. Hit Me
14. No Face
15. T.I.W.Y.G.
16. Mechanics
17. Adore
18. Fuckers

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Tuesday 15 March 2016

On Stage: Birth of Joy

I already consider myself a lucky bastard, but sometimes I even get more than I bargained for. This time I won tickets to go see a concert that I was planning to go to any way, that amazing rock band Birth of Joy. To make things even better The Mysterons were the opening act.

Birth of Joy at Paradiso Tolhuistuin, March 13 2016

The Mysterons
The venue Paradiso Tolhuistuin has one nice aspect which can be a downside as well: you have to cross the IJ water which in my case means I take the ferry. We just miss it by seconds and therefore have to wait ten minutes for the next one. By the time we make it into the venue, The Mysterons already have started their set. Fortunately there's plenty of songs left to play for them and their layered psychedelic songs full of tempo changes and odd measures once again is intriguing and convincing. The band has grown and sounds more tight and better than ever. Can't wait for their first album to drop.

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Birth Of Joy
The energetic rock music of Birth of Joy already is great to listen to at home, but this band is best consumed live. When you hear their songs, you think "wow, that is some great rock music" but watching them live on stage is simply overwhelming. Even after having seen them a few times before, this band still knows how to impress me.

It's the combination of well-written rock songs, very skilled and talented musicians, and the right combination of energy and enthusiasm. It's obvious these guys don't want to be anywhere else than on this stage with this crowd tonight. It's the last release show for their new album Get Well that shows the band keeps evolving and by now is one of the best rock acts in our country. Once again the tight band dazzles me with screaming guitar riffs, rolling drum fills and an out of control organ. Thanks Paradiso Vinyl Club for the tickets to an amazing night of music!

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Monday 7 March 2016

On Stage: Chris Robinson Brotherhood

It’s never clear what the status is of The Black Crowes, the rock band around the Robinson brothers. Currently the band has fallen apart but can easily rise from its ashes any time. Meanwhile singer Chris Robinson recorded three albums with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. What hasn’t changed is that this is a band you want to see live.

An Evening with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood at Paradiso Amsterdam, March 3 2016

The Black Crowes loved playing Paradiso and their concerts usually turn into epic moments. Tonight with this band it is nothing different and this “evening with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood” definitely is evening filling. The band has divided the night into two sets with a short break in between. Their music is on the more relaxed side of The Black Crowes and Robinson is playing guitar most of the time.

Their soulful Americana will slowly drag you in and it's a lovely feeling. Robinson’s wonderful voice still is one of a kind and his amazing band is doing the rest. The drums and bass play their grooves right in the pocket and guitar player Neal Casal lays down some amazing solos. It's as if Robinson’s verses are paving the way for these stunning guitar pieces. The band plays many covers by the likes of Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead and of course The Black Crowes. But all of them are tasteful versions that they made their own without damaging the original. And all songs turn into long stretched songs full of lengthy jams and patiently crafted by wonderful musicians.

The break halfway does take you out of the magic for a bit but when they play close to three hours it's a well deserved break. By that time they already have Paradiso eating from their hand. Another bunch of incense sticks are lit and the band simply continues where they left off. At the end of the second set there’s even time for an encore where the band plays a dazzling version of J. J. Cale’s ‘After Midnight’. In the passed I believe they called Paradiso "the center of the universe" and tonight for three hours it truly felt that way. Even better, the venue feels like an entire different universe for a while, filled with lush music and good vibes. It would be great if The Black Crowes would return in the future but this band is just as much fun.

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01. Hello L.A., Bye Bye Birmingham
02. Jump the Turnstiles
03. Roan County Banjo
04. Reflections on a Broken Mirror
05. She Belongs to Me
06. Meanwhile in the Gods...
07. Like a Tumbleweed in Eden
08. I'm a Hog for You
09. Shake, Rattle and Roll
10. Ain't It Hard But Fair
11. Rosalee
12. Star or Stone
13. West L.A. Fadeaway
14. Vibration & Light Suite
15. I Ain't Hiding
16. Got Love If You Want It
17. After Midnight

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Thursday 3 March 2016

On Stage: The Libertines

So is The Libertines reunion a money grabbing event or are they all in it for the love for the music and this band? Judging from the concerts they played and the more than decent new album I guess it's the latter. And when many British fans are most certainly heading to Paradiso for their show in Amsterdam I sure want to be there.

The Libertines at Paradiso Amsterdam, March 1 2016

When we arrive at the venue we bump into a huge line and it takes a while before we can get in. By the time we do, unfortunately support band Reverend and the Makers have already left the stage. About half an hour later The Libertines are greeted with loud cheers who take off with 'Barbarians' off their last album. You know things will get messy when they are playing and that's not just from the beer showers. They aren't always a very tight band, with out of tune guitars and off key vocals. Carl Barât and Pete Doherty sometimes take long breaks discussing about the next song or fooling around playing short pieces of whatever comes to mind.

But then all of a sudden they start playing one of those amazing tunes that all are engraved into the minds of the British fans who sing along to all of them. Even though Doherty and Barât's eyes reveal their heads are slowly getting intoxicated those moments show the class of this band. Songs like 'Can't Stand Me Now' and 'The Man Who Would Be King' are like anthems of a generation and still sound good despite all the monkeying around.

When they leave the stage Doherty is pointing out they will of course come back in a short moment. For the grand finale we get great versions of some of their best songs like 'Music When The Lights Go Out'. Both band and crowd give it all one more time and the whole place has turned into a drunken dancing party during last song 'Don't Look Back Into The Sun' where Doherty tosses his microphone stand into the crowd. It's a fitting end to a great show with a band that is both dirty and wonderful but never boring, and with a crowd that is simply brilliant.

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01. Barbarians
02. The Delaney
03. Heart of the Matter
04. Horrorshow
05. Fame and Fortune
06. Boys in the Band
07. The Milkman's Horse
08. What Katie Did
09. Anthem for Doomed Youth
10. The Man Who Would Be King
11. You're My Waterloo
12. Gunga Din
13. Can't Stand Me Now
14. Vertigo
15. Death on the Stairs
16. Time for Heroes
17. The Good Old Days
18. Music When the Lights Go Out
19. Up the Bracket
20. What a Waster
21. Don't Look Back Into The Sun

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