Tuesday 31 December 2019

Top 10 Albums 2019

It's the end of a very good musical year where I got to know new bands, new music and saw a lot of amazing shows. For what it's worth, here is my top 10 album list for this year. End this decade in style, all the best for 2020 and stay safe.

1.Fontaines DC - Dogrel
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2.Michael Kiwanuka- KIWANUKA
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3.Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Ghosteen
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4.Fat White Family - Serfs Up
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5.black midi - Schlagenheim
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6.Tool - Fear Inoculum
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7.Brittany Howard - Jaime
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8.Thom Yorke - Anima
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9.The Comet is coming - Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery
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10.Iguana Death Cult - Nude Casino
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On Stage: De Dijk @ Paradiso

Of course we went to see Dutch rock band De Dijk this year again. Although it has been over two weeks ago and I don't have anything to add after seeing them play numerous times, I don't want to skip this event. So here are some of the pictures I took of this amazing band!

De Dijk at Paradiso Amsterdam, December 13 2019

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Saturday 14 December 2019

On Stage: BRUUT! + Anton Goudsmit @ Paradiso

Jazz quartet BRUUT! play their jazz music with a rock attitude and indeed many songs are swinging and rocking. The foursome always wanted to record and play with one of the best guitarists in The Netherlands, Anton Goudsmit. Now they got their chance and recorded a jazz surf LP with him, appropriately titled Go Surfing and are playing around the clubs.

BRUUT! with Anton Goudsmit at Paradiso Amsterdam, December 11 2019

I've seen BRUUT! play several times and really like their exciting music a lot. I've also seen Anton Goudsmit play before and his guitar skills are amazing. On stage he's a delight to watch and I can't wait to see him in this formation tonight. A blue neon sign depicting three waves at the back leaves no doubt that tonight is all about surf music. Jazz and surf music sounds like a match made in heaven. Tonight these guys prove it definitely is.

No better man than Goudsmit to let his guitar go under water. Of course we know he can play some mean surf guitar and he's totally in his element. I love his facial expressions when he's playing and his happy head. He makes music look like so much fun, which it is of course. His style is very contagious while his fingers sometimes pick the strings at lightning speed. The other members are clearly enjoying his company as they are throwing smiles around all the time.

The quartet themselves are a great band which shows once more. Fronted by sax player Maarten Hogenhuis, these musicians know how to have fun too. They play the songs with a lot of energy and definitely got their groove on. There are some typical BRUUT! songs on the setlist, which have been rearranged to include guitar and a lot of surf ingredients. A song like 'Baha' lends itself perfectly for this treatment.

Not only their own songs but some jazz standards got reworked as well like Charles Mingus' 'Boogie Stop Shuffle'. Even some popular songs got the jazz surf (or surf jazz?) treatment and are almost unrecognisable. We can hear Dolly Parton's 'Jolene' with some Ennio Morricone added to it. There is James Brown's 'Choo Choo Locomotion' and then there are some surf classics that maybe never sounded better. Brian Wilson's 'Surfer Girl' and Dick Dale's 'King of the Surf Guitar' are absolute classics.

The band throws in some extras that are not on the album: the 'Hawaii Five-O' theme and Dick Dale's legendary 'Misirlou', made even more famous by Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. BRUUT! and Goudsmit's music on this LP could easily be the soundtrack to one of his movies. It is definitely a swinging and fun album, that sounds even better live. The quintet throws in some beach balls at the end and the surf party is complete. Now if only we could have surf weather. Surf's up!

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Thursday 12 December 2019

On Stage: Fat White Family @ Melkweg

Heavy drug problems almost put an end to Fat White Family's career. The band from South London were able to overcome the problems and reinvented themselves on this year's LP Serf's Up!, one of the best albums this year in my opinion. Their live shows have quite a reputation, so I'd better go check them out.

Fat White Family at Melkweg Amsterdam, December 8 2019

As an extra treat Pip Blom is opening tonight so I make sure I'm at the venue early enough. It's a always nice to see this young band play their contagious alternative rock songs. Blom has a great talent for writing gritty rock songs with that typical nineties sound and it's so much fun to see this happy bunch play.

Somehow you could expect Fat White Family to be a fierce punk rock band that is going to tear the place down. But their music is nothing like that. Instead it has a side of funk and psychedelica to it, run through their filter, turning it into sultry, somewhat dark songs. These guys look like they are "bad" boyfriend material that you don't want to be related to. But they definitely can play and come up with very good songs.

Singer Lias Saoudi is up to no good tonight and guitarist Saul Adamczewski warns Saoudi is in a bad mood and tells everyone to watch out. I'm not sure this is actually true, but Saoudi isn't giving the crowd an easy time, harassing them a little bit. He jumps into the crowd several times, throwing beers in the air, pushing people around at the front. It actually makes sure the pit keeps going and people are paying attention.

These guys are playing a very tight set, with a lot of songs from their excellent new record. There are hints of eighties nostalgia in their songs, not the least because of the synths and saxophone played by Alex White. White looks like to have stepped from an eighties video clip, sporting a look similar to Willy Deville's during his 'White Trashgirl' period. It only adds to the band's unique character.

In the end it is all about the music, which is simply great. I get a bit of eighties The Bad Seeds vibes, which is a huge compliment. With a somewhat casual stage presence, a nasty frontman and a bunch of great songs the band looks like they are onto something. Maybe they actually aren't in the best mood, since the band leaves the stage after an hour and only thirteen songs, where setlists of other shows reveal at least sixteen or seventeen songs. It was a great family meeting nevertheless.

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01. Auto Neutron
02. I Am Mark E. Smith
03. Tinfoil Deathstar
04. Fringe Runner
05. Heaven on Earth
06. Touch the Leather
07. Cream of the Young
08. Goodbye Goebbels
09. When I Leave
10. I Believe in Something Better
11. Feet
12. Whitest Boy on the Beach
13. Is It Raining in Your Mouth?

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Wednesday 11 December 2019

Come As You Are @ Effenaar

Once again Effenaar in Eindhoven is celebrating thirty years of guitar music with the Come As You Are festival. Bands that go all the way back and new bands are playing on this day. It's a nice lined-up again this year and we have another excuse to have a night out with good friends, live music and lots of beer.

Come As You Are at Effenaar Eindhoven, December 7 2019

The Cold Vein

Thirty years ago Urban Dance Squad was one of the hottest bands to come from the low lands. Ex-member and singer Patrick Tilon, also known as Rudeboy, is no stranger here are the festival and returns with a new band The Cold Vein. The noise rock quartet play heavy sounding noise rock songs, which are solid vehicles for Rudeboy's vocals. He has a tendency of overpowering his vocals, causing it to sound more like screaming than singing. Not all songs sound equally well, but there are some very solid rocks songs with good ideas. Drummer Chief W. is a delight to watch, playing his grooves in a relaxed but tight and powerful way with a big grin on his face. Nice way to kick off the festival for us nevertheless.

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We go downstairs to watch local band SØWT who are playing a mix of noise and grunge. Singer Danielle Warners is looking very angry most of the time and emphasises the serious and dark songs this way. They draw inspiration from grunge and noise rock bands from the early nineties like Nirvana and Sonic Youth. Their songs have a nice variation in sound and are real heavy rock bullets. I quite enjoy this band who live up to the festival's name.

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Mozes and the Firstborn

I bought tickets to the very last show of Mozes and the Firstborn at the end of the month at this same spot, but I most probably won't be able to make it. Fortunately they are playing here today, which will be the last time I get to see them. It's too bad this band is going to quit, since I have always liked their garage rock with great melodies and plenty of tongue in cheek. Singer Melle Dielesen is a bit less chatty than normal but still the band is playing a solid show in their hometown. The group has so many amazing songs like 'Dadcore' and 'Sad Supermarkaet Song' that always go down very well. I've been following this band from the early beginning and I sure am gonna miss these guys.

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Dune Rats

We head downstairs where Brisbane band Dune Rats have started their set. Their light punk rock songs could be nice to enjoy with a couple of beers. However the band seems to be too busy goofing around and the songs aren't anything special and don't sound that great. Time to get some food instead.

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Rick de Leeuw & Band

In the nineties I have seen Rick de Leeuw's old band Tröckener Kecks many times and every time it was blast. Tonight de Leeuw is playing with the band he recorded his new solo album with. He decides to play mostly old Kecks hits instead which pleases the mostly middle aged crowd who, like me, know him best from that time. Of course he has done so much more and wrote so many more wonderful songs after that, but tonight we all feel thirty years younger again, including de Leeuw himself.

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The festival is celebrating thirty years of guitar music in the broadest sense and so they booked one of my all time favourite bands Johan. I've seen them so many times and simply can't get enough. Their timeless pop rock songs are all little gems that I can hear over and over again. I mean who can resist songs like 'Tumble and Fall', 'Day Is Done', 'Oceans' and 'Everybody Knows' to name but a few. I know I never can.

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Indian Askin

The quartet Indian Askin seem to be on the road a lot and is doing another 'Another Round' tour at the moment. It brings their new LP Another Round to this festival, which is another lovely record. The band never makes compromises and their indierock with a punk attitude is a breath of fresh air in the rock scene. On stage the band is always able impress and today they work very hard to please the crowd. They have a bunch of very good songs to work with and in the end come up winning.

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Nijmegen rock band Navarone have really given it all to force some kind of breakthrough, even joining a music contest on TV. It did draw attention to their music and they were able to sell out Paradiso recently. Today they are the headliner but judging from the half full main hall it looks like many people have already left. It's a shame because tonight the group stays clear from the covers and treats us to their own songs. Nothing can get this band down and they would even do their best when there was only one person in front of the stage. The rockers play a good show for the people and fans that came down and knock out a couple of their bangers. It ends the night on a high for me.

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It has been another fun edition of this festival. If they keep it up like this and can come up with another interesting line-up next year, I'm sure we will try to be there again.

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Friday 6 December 2019

25 Years of Toutpartout @ Paradiso

Belgian booking agency Toutpartout are celebrating their 25th anniversary by throwing a party with some of the bands they represent. With acts like Whispering Sons, STAKE and Raketkanon on the bill I'm definitely going to check those out.

25 Years of Toutpartout at Paradiso Amsterdam, December 4 2019


I arrive at the venue when STAKE have just started. They are playing the small hall that is chuck full and I can't even come near a spot from where I can see the band. After a couple of minutes I manage to squeeze myself in and can enjoy the band without a problem. Arisen from the ashes of Stake Number Eight they changed their name and musical direction. "Sometimes you have to kill something off to start something new" and sludge metal was exchanged for grunge, although I find it more a shift into punk hardcore territory mixed with post-metal. No matter what the label is, it suits the band well who are still playing with incredible energy. The explosive songs bounce around the small hall which stays full until the end. It's a courageous move the band has made but it looks like it paid off. I certainly hope so and want to see more of these guys.

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Whispering Sons

It's the fourth time I get to see this band this year, who have left quite a mark on the alternative scene in the lowlands. Without a doubt they had an amazing year, where their name took off like a rocket. The classic new wave is a great find and the young band have worked out their industrial new wave sound really well. It isn't subtle, although guitar player Kobe Lijnen's guitar lines and riffs do add enough detail to the somewhat blunt sound. And of course singer Fenne Kuppens is amazing with her low voice and passionate performance. She's the shining white centre point of the band, whose other members are all dressed in black. The dark new wave songs sound good again tonight and I'm curious where this band is going next.

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This Belgian band are a unique group that unfortunately have announced this year to call it a day after their current club show. It's even hard to describe what this band is about. Noiserock with psychedelic elements, electronic elements, lots of craziness, but at the same time very clever, tight and complex. Some songs remind me of Primus, with incredible funky grooves and heavy riffs. Singer Pieter-Paul Davos is bouncing around and off stage, sometimes whispering, then screaming. His band follows him in this rollercoaster of noise and heavy music, but it always stays together. Still it somehow seems to make sense as well, which is a huge compliment. Too bad this band are calling it quits, since groups like this aren't wide spread.

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Sunday 1 December 2019

On Stage: Jungle By Night

I remember when I saw Jungle By Night for the first time. It was a free performance at the traveling theatre festival De Parade and must have been around nine years ago. Nine teenagers played refreshing and swinging afrobeat songs and I loved it. The boys have grown up and are now celebrating their tenth anniversary.

Jungle By Night at Paradiso Amsterdam, November 28 2019

They looked quite shy back then and a little surprised by the enthusiastic response they were getting from all the people who were dancing to their music. Afrobeat wasn't exactly a hip music genre at the time but had a bit of an old fashioned image. I'd like to think that this band had a part in changing that, transforming it into a modern and exciting music genre, loved by many young people. Tonight the band is partying, celebrating ten years of hard work that paid off. Since the band is traveling the world now, playing lots of shows, making people dance all around the globe.

Their music has transformed as well, exploring new grounds, from seventies funk to psychedelic and space disco. Many of the band members have attended music colleges and all have grown into incredible musicians. Now the young men aren's shy any more, but stand on stage with a lot of confidence and a ton of experience. Fortunately not everything has changed, because the youthful enthusiasm and sheer joy in playing and performing their music together is still there, judging from the happy faces on stage.

It's a delight to see this band play and to have witnessed it grow into this well-oiled hot swinging groove machine it is today. Every single one of them gets a moment in the spot lights today and they all eagerly take this moment to shine. The horns section is of course very important and boy, trumpet player Bo Floor's sound is amazing. The engine of this band is without a doubt the rhythm section that makes sure the groove never stops. There's a lot of percussion which lifts this groove even more and spices up the music.

Guitar player Jac van Exter and keys player Pyke Pasman add the sparkle, that pinch of magic which is the icing on this tasteful cake. Tonight the band makes this cake even more tastier, turning it into a proper birthday cake. They play for more than two hours and turn the sold out venue into a true dancing party, a lovely celebration of their music. Everyone inside is more than willing to party with them and dance to the irresistible grooves. Fortunately the band assures us they still have no intension to slow down and promises to celebrate their next anniversary in ten years time again on this same spot. Of course I'm so there!

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Friday 22 November 2019

On Stage: Temples @ THT

Ever since psych rock band Temples released their debut LP Sun Structures back in 2014 I've been keeping an eye on this band. I like their music a lot but the one time I saw them play at Best Kept Secret I wasn't really convinced about their live performance. Now they have their third record out, Hot Motion, which is full of great psych rock and pop songs once again. Time to see them play live again.

Temples at Paradiso Tolhuistuin Amsterdam, November 18 2019

By now the band officially is a trio, without a permanent drummer after Samuel Toms left the band in 2018. The band was already touring with Dutch drummer Rens Ottink, who you may know from his band PAUW. Clearly he brought a few friends with him tonight, who want to see him play. Ottink is a worthy add-on to the line up and fits right in with his retro style, playing tight grooves in a loose and relaxed way.

The band, fronted by James Bagshaw, looks and sounds energetic, playing their songs with a lot of fire. Those songs sound amazing, with the clear harmonies and the nice voice of Bagshaw. The band switches easily between sixties style psychedelic pop songs and seventies style heavier rock. Every single song seems to have some kind of hook and lovely melodies, which make them sound so good.

The foursome work their way through the setlist smoothly, without many breaks, except for the occasional guitar change. Bagshaw changes to a twelve string guitar occasionally, that is perfect for this fuzzy sound. Adam Smith adds another layer of guitar or keys and Thomas Walmsley completes the rhythm section with Ottink for the catchy grooves. It all combines into a contagious mix that you just have to bop your head to at the very least. Temples already had their sound down and now they certainly have their live performance down now as well, proving that tonight with a solid show at a sold out Paradiso THT.

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01. The Howl
02. Certainty
03. A Question Isn't Answered
04. You're Either on Something
05. Colours to Life
06. Holy Horses
07. The Golden Throne
08. Atomise
09. The Beam
10. Oh the Saviour
11. Context
12. Keep in the Dark
13. Shelter Song
14. Hot Motion
15. Mesmerise

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