Wednesday 30 May 2018

London Calling #1 2018

It’s been a while since I visited the London Calling festival, the get together for upcoming bands that in the past focused mostly on britpop bands. Nowadays their scope is a lot wider, but still it is about supporting new bands and give them a bigger stage and audience for a change.

London Calling #1 2018, May 25 2018

The festival does have a downside though: where bands take turns playing in the main hall and the small hall, most of the crowd moves between these stages. The small hall gets very crowded and it’s hard to get there on time. That’s why they have a screen in the main hall showing the band upstairs while the next band downstairs is already sound checking. It kind of makes me stay downstairs most of the time which isn’t the perfect way to experience the bands.

Frankie Cosmos
I do try to watch Frankie Cosmos, alter ego for Greta Kline, from the back of the small hall. I already know her music isn’t exactly what I like but her timid performance doesn’t exactly win me over either. There isn’t a lot happening on stage and the songs don’t really grab me. Sometimes a song appears to catch fire, then it dies down quickly. We decide to watch the remainder down stairs.

Official Website | Twitter | Facebook | SoundCloud | Spotify


Probably one of the most anticipated acts is Yungblud, or Dominic Harrison, the young singer who already has quite a big hit with ‘I Love You, Will You Marry Me’, that he brings early in the set. Harrison is a very energetic performer who keeps running and jumping across the stage. The songs are catchy and Harrison is making a lot of contact with the crowd. His songs are quite average though and his vocals aren’t really anything special. But together with his appearance and easy pop tunes you can see this going places.

Official Website | Twitter | Facebook | SoundCloud | YouTube | Spotify


We do not try to get in upstairs and decide to skip what’s next in the main hall, so we are on time to see Mattiel play. The American singer released a very good debut album with an amazing sound that reminds of early days rock 'n roll and rhythm 'n blues. Her sharp voice is quite unique but may need a bit of getting used to. Her compact songs are spot on though and she’s backed up by an amazing band. Without a doubt she’s one of the highlights of the night and a musician with a huge potential.

Official Website | Twitter | Facebook | Spotify

It is nice to discover new bands at this festival that most of the times has a few still to discover gems on offer. But the concept of the two stages that are too different in size makes it hard to really love. In the end I decide to skip the second day although it has a good line-up.

All Pictures

Read more!

Jazz In Duketown 2018

After a wonderful edition of Jazz In Duketown last year I was looking forward going there again. Unfortunately this year I was only able to attend one day of the three day festival, but there are quite a few nice performances lined up.

Jazz in Duketown 's-Hertogenbosch May 20

We made sure not to miss the Yuri Honing Acoustic Quartet. The Dutch saxophone player has a new album Goldbrun that won him an Edison recently. Indeed it sounds great live as well. Most compositions are warm soundscapes that create a nice atmosphere and mostly sounds as a soundtrack. His band is incredible and all musicians are getting the best out of each other. It's a wonderful way to start this day.

Next up on the same stage at the market square is Israeli guitar player Yotam Silberstein and his band. Silberstein is a very skilled guitar player as he proves today and he brought very good musicians with him. I like their sound although it stays on the safe side a lot. Sometimes you would like the band to take more risks.

We wander to the Parade stage where new Dutch sensation Rilan & The Bombardiers are proving what makes them so exciting. The combination of pop, soul and funk isn't really anything new or special, nor is it really my cup of tea. But the band play it very convincingly with the charismatic singer Rilan Ramhane who knows how to handle a crowd. And with a cold beer in the lovely sun and this uplifting music there's not much to complain.

Our tummies need attention and we end up having dinner in a lovely restaurant forgetting about time. We make it back to the festival just in time to catch half of Red Snapper's set. The instrumental band play very exciting music mixing in all kinds of electronics. It makes their music very groovy and danceable and this is working very well judging from the reaction of the crowd. The band put a lot of heart in it and put down a very convincing and enjoyable set.

At the Parade stage retro soul band The Tibbs are creating a festive mood. Singer Elsa Bekman has a nice voice and is backed up by a good band. The songs aren't that special I think but it's a nice performance to close this wonderful day.

This year's Jazz In Duketown once again was a very nice edition with a lot of sunshine like last year. That sure helps, but also the festival manages to come up with a broad and varying line-up with lots of good music to enjoy. Count me in for next year's edition!

Read more!

Friday 18 May 2018

Spinning: JAGD - Civic

In 2016 the quartet JAGD won the Amsterdamse Popprijs where the judges praised them for their energetic music and international potential. Meanwhile the group has spent many hours on stage, recently during Popronde, and even could free up some time to record a new EP. Civic holds four brand new songs that show what JAGD has to offer.

And there's a lot on offer here, since despite the just over 15 minutes of music, it is firing up quite a lot of musical bullets. The four songs are chuck full of catchy punk rock that is hard to resist. The title song opens the record, a great track with a pleasant groove that completely explodes in the chorus. Explosiveness and excitement are exactly the qualifications that come to mind when listening to the band.

But the foursome are able to prevent their music from becoming to predictable and overdone, by applying everything in the right quantities. A surf guitar is added to 'Elevate' and it has a calm intermezzo. When needed though the band goes completely crazy, fronted by singer Nanne van der Linden, who is sometimes screaming on top of her lungs. She's doing this with great effect in the racing song 'Overbored'. Finally they are going full force in the banging last track 'Awkward'.

Indeed JAGD proves with Civic to be full of potential and deserves it to be heard. Live the band even picks it up a notch and is able to overwhelm everyone with lively performances. When the bookers in The Netherlands and around are paying attention they already have put JAGD on their list with a big marker. This band will definitely be a big hit on every festival around.

This album discussion has also been published in Dutch on over here.

Official Website | Facebook | Soundcloud | YouTube | Spotify

Read more!

Tuesday 15 May 2018

Spinning: The New House - Moves

Spring has shown that it means business and all of a sudden everyone is in a Summer mood. This calls for fitting music that will accompany the many warm nights that are hopefully ahead of us. The EP Moves of the new Amsterdam collective The New House is perfect for these nights. The band around trumpet player, music craftsman and producer Mark Nieuwenhuis is mixing many styles that results in catchy music with many summery and exotic elements.

Nieuwenhuis recruited a nice set of musicians to shape his compositions. His creations that combine jazz, hiphop, funk and world music aren't always simple, so it asks a lot of them. But the band is playing the often cheerful songs convincingly and with feeling. The record opens with the sometimes raw 'Light Blue' around a refined trumpet theme where you can also hear a solid guitar solo. 'Sharktank' lives up to its name where the guitar is going wild again, driven by grooving drums. The song has some Balkan elements that make it very danceable.

Because The New House wants people to dance, judging from the playful 'Chitka'. The staccato 'Square' could easily be on a movie soundtrack, like the rest of the completely instrumental record is bringing movie images to mind. 'Vlugtlaan' is the melancholic ending, with main parts played by saxophone and trumpet. This way all musicians get plenty of room to excel and show themselves at their best.

Despite the high musical level, Moves is not a record that sounds overcomplicated, but that is all about atmosphere and feeling. The lively compositions create a summery vibe that turns into a festive mood. It is perfect for the the lush time that lies ahead of us and the band would be great for any summer festival looking for a band that can spark a nice dancing party. Or simply enjoy them in your living room with your favourite cold drink.

This album discussion has also been published in Dutch on over here.

Official Website | SoundCloud | Facebook | YouTube | Spotify

Read more!

Wednesday 9 May 2018

On Stage: Ought @ Paradiso Tolhuistuin

A few years back Canadian band Ought stunned with an amazing album Sun Coming Down. The clever record also worked very well live as they proved several times. Now they have returned with a very worthy follow up Room Inside The World and also return to the same stage I saw them before.

Ought at Paradiso Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, May 7 2018

I wanted to make sure I didn't miss the support act Lewsberg. This band from Rotterdam has created quite a buzz around them and for a good reason as it turns out. The band clearly channels The Velvet Underground and a little Talking Heads. Singer Arie van Vliet sounds like Lou Reed but looks a bit like David Byrne, although a paler version of him. The band definitely have their sound down, but their indifferent act could work against them when they play longer shows. I think it actually works in their disadvantage since not much is happening on stage and it may get on people's nerves in the end. Still this is a band to keep an eye on.

Ought are at the end of their tour says singer Tim Darcy, although they don't look like they are tired at all. I like how this band is always playing focused, totally into their music. Darcy is an intriguing person to look at, with his thin posture and piercing eyes. His voice may sound a bit weird sometimes but the way he brings his lyrics, in a lazy almost spoken way is very effective.

The band has developed an incredible sound, which changed a little on the last LP. It got a bit less dark and more funky with lovely eighties inspired bass lines. Bassist Ben Stidworthy together with the light jazzy drumming of Tim Keen are a wonderful rhythm section. Matt May finishes everything off with his keys, acting as a glue. It all sounds well balanced and you can hear a lot of detail.

Today the band plays most songs off the new record and kicks off with four fresh ones in a row. New songs like 'Disgraced In America' and 'Disaffectation' sound great live too and everything is played with a certain urgency, with Darcy raising his finger now and then as if he wants to make an even stronger point. Sometimes he will smile a little, almost grinning. Maybe he's laughing a bit because of the reaction of the crowd in front who are singing along to bits of his lyrics. Like every show since Sun Coming Down, the highlight still is the incredible 'Beautiful Blue Sky' that never fails to impress. In the encore the band closes with two songs of their first album More Than Any Other Day. Ought are without a doubt one of the most interesting bands of the moment.

All Pictures

Official Website | Twitter | Facebook | Spotify

01. Into the Sea
02. Disgraced in America
03. These 3 Things
04. Desire
05. Men for Miles
06. Habit
07. Beautiful Blue Sky
08. Take Everything
09. Disaffectation
10. Alice
11. Today, More Than Any Other Day
12. The Weather Song

Read more!

Monday 7 May 2018

On Stage: Femi Kuti and Positive Force @ Paradiso Tolhuistuin

Fortunately I have seen one of the founders of afrobeat, Tony Allen, play several times. The other founder, Fela Kuti, I never got to see and unfortunately he has parted with us quite some time ago. Watching his sons Femi and Seun is the closest you can get to him and after seeing Seun a couple of times I am finally able to go to a Femi Kuti show with his band Positive Force.

Femi Kuti and Positive Force at Paradiso Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, May 4 2018

Femi tells us he will turn 56 in a few weeks. He’s the eldest of the two brothers that keep the legacy of their father alive. Both do that in their own way but still stay close to the original afrobeat. Both do it with a lot of heart and fire and like their father are passionate about their country, the continent and about standing up against corruption and oppression.

Femi may be older but the charismatic musician hasn’t lost any of his energy. He’s dancing all over the stage, once in a while playing his alto sax or organ. It is the use of keys that at the same time carries his signature and also adds another true African touch to the music, reminding of the music from the late seventies and early eighties like fellow Nigerian William Onyeabor.

Positive Force is a big band where drums, percussion, guitar, bass, horn section, keys and dancers fill up the stage completely. They are a delight to watch and together with Femi energize the crowd that starts to dance immediately. Femi checks if we’re still paying attention now and then, but of course we are when so much is going on. Except when he’s trying to teach us a few dance moves where he jokes he’s a bit disappointed at our dancing skills.

It is a two hour show with older and brand new songs, that has all the ingredients of a wonderful afrobeat party the way Fela intended it to be. Femi brought The Shrine to Amsterdam tonight and his father couldn’t be more proud. Next month Seun will most certainly do the same when he visits this venue. And I’m definitely there again to join the dancing.

All Pictures

Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Spotify

Read more!

Friday 4 May 2018

On Stage: A Place To Bury Strangers

In September I saw A Place To Bury Strangers for the first time at the Indiestadt festival and was quite impressed with their intense performance. Now they have a new album out, Pinned, and it's time to go check them out again.

A Place To Bury Strangers at Paradiso Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, May 2 2018

The noise rock band are known for their Epilepsy unfriendly performances with lots of flashing lights and heavy usage of stroboscopes. Tonight is no exception and as usual the band are playing in the dark, often surrounded by a lot of smoke, and are only clearly visible when the strobes are bathing the stage in bright light for a short split second. It is a wonderful background for the heavy noise music of the threesome.

Lia Simone Braswell has permanently joined guitarist and singer Oliver Ackermann and bassist Dion Lunadon on drums. That turns out to be a good thing, since her drum playing is tight and with her vocals she brings something new to the table. While singing a song solo she proves she has a good voice and combined with here solid drumming skills the band sounds more organic.

The combination of a wall of loud noise with more psychedelic vocals and lyrics works very well. The group hardly takes any breaks in between songs which makes the songs flow into each other and turns the show into a wild but smooth ride. Halfway the members gather around a peculiar mobile sample machine in the middle of the hall where they perform a few improvised songs. The drum samples sound quite nasty giving the tracks a techno sound.

One by one the band members return to the stage and continue their dark ride. There is no interaction with the crowd and after they play their last song they leave in the dark and the show is over. This all adds to the intensity of their performance. This dark restless and absent environment is where the band is at its best.

All Pictures

Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Spotify

01. We've Come So Far
02. Ego Death
03. So Far Away
04. Situations Changes
05. Deadbeat
06. There's Only One of Us
07. Drill It Up
08. Harp Song
09. Improvisation #1
10. Improvisation #2
11. Improvisation #3
12. Deeper
13. Straight
14. Nothing Will Surprise Me
15. Never Coming Back
16. I Lived My Life To Stand In The Shadow Of Your Heart

Read more!

Thursday 3 May 2018

Tune In Your Head: Protomartyr - Wheel Of Fortune

Protomartyr are in the middle of a tour but still find time to release a new EP Consolation E.P. on June 15th. On two of the four tracks they worked together with Kelley Deal of The Breeders. Here you can hear one of those tracks 'Wheel of Fortune':

Read more!

Tuesday 1 May 2018

On Stage: Claw Boys Claw @ Paradiso

35 years ago Dutch rock band Claw Boys Claw was founded and have been a welcome guest at stages across the country ever since. They earned that reputation by playing lots of shows and working hard. Now they are taking it a bit more slow and release an album every five years or so. When they do, they get back on the horse and tour around all those stages, something that can't be missed.

Claw Boys Claw at Paradiso Amsterdam, March 28 2018

Because this group still knows how to put on an extremely good rock show. This year saw the release of It's Not Me, The Horse Is Not Me - Part 1, an LP that shows this band is still on top of things and is only getting better. Singer Peter Te Bos and guitar player John Cameron are the two members that have been with this band for all those years. Their chemistry hasn't worn off for a bit and the two keep on writing smart rock songs with that wonderful slow and heavy blues feel and a punk edge.

On stage that chemistry is still there as well, magnified by the other two members bass player Marcus Bruystens and drummer Jeroen Kleijn. Tonight we see a band that is in top shape, playing a two hour rock show that doesn't have any weak spots. Te Bos is dancing around the stage with a big smile on his face, joking with people at the front once and a while, having a wonderful time himself. His vocals are still very strong, not showing any wear and he still takes his usual walk through the crowd. I love the way Cameron plays his guitar, bopping up and down like a real life bobblehead.

A little boy wearing a "super kid" shirt is sitting at the side of the stage looking at the band in awe. With big eyes he's watching the crowd of mostly middle aged men going mental in front of the stage. Once and a while people will dance wildly all the way to the back. In the song 'Super kid' the boy stands up, pointing to his shirt with a big smile. Te Bos of course walks over to the boy and sings with him for a short while.

This is exactly what a night with Claw Boys Claw is all about. People of all ages sharing a moment of amazing rock music and enjoying the hell out of it. The band can't leave before they play two encores. closing the night like they always do with The Stooges' 'I Wanna Be Your Dog'. I guess this band is the Dutch version of The Stooges, fronted by a rock icon that is not slowing down. Let's hope there will be many of these moments still to come.

All Pictures

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

01. It's Not Me, The Horse Is Not Me
02. Seaweed
03. Dakota Chill
04. Troglodyte
05. Suck up The Mountain
06. Hammer
07. Throw Me A Bone
08. Red Letter
09. Bite the Dice
10. My Beautiful Carpet
11. Sleepwalking
12. Shakes
13. Polly Maggoo
14. In A While
15. Weatherman
16. Indian Wallpaper
17. Wild Voodoo
Encore 2:
18. Echo Echo
19. Rosie
20. Superkid
21. Locomotive Breath
22. So Mean
23. That's Life
Encore 1:
24. Ellah
25. I Wanna Be Your Dog

Read more!