Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Pains of being pure at heart

Only 10 songs on this album.
A pretty melo-dramatic band name.
And when I arrive at song four I already feel like I heard this song before on the very same album. There is not much variation in between songs, and I do not really bother listening to the lyrics. They're not really worth listening to.
All reasons why I should not like this album, but something, something about this album just makes me like it.

This album summarized into one sentence: Robert Smith from the Cure (Stay Alive) suddenly starts wearing colorful shirts and convinces the Jesus & The Mary Chain (Contender) to join him on a crusade to make the world care-free.

And every morning when I select this album on my mp3 in the train on my way to work, they succeed. Thanks Robert Smith and Jesus & the Mary Chain!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Black Hearted Love for PJ Harvey

10 Reasons why I (really) like PJ Harvey

Her voice - Deep & Powerfull

Her guitar - She plays a beautiful Gibson Firebird VII

Her songs - Great lyrics but often not too complex: Less is more

Her lack of genre - She does not fit into one. She is free, creative.

Her appearance one stage - Five years ago I saw her performing on Rock Werchter 2004. While singing some songs the audience was so intimidated by her performance they seemd to back off a few meters. I think it was during "Meet Ze Monster".

Her cooperations - She actually played together on one of the Desert Sessions with Joshua Homme, did some duets with Nick Cave and now joins John Parish for her latest album.

Her residence - She still lives in rural England.

Her lack of any fixed style - Just as varied as her music. One day she can be a classic femme-fatale, the other day a stylish punk and then a conservative victorian girl.

Her attitude - Whatever she does, it's full of energy and emotion.

And finally, she's raw.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

When Under Ether

The ceiling is moving
Moving in time
Like a conveyor belt
Above my eyes

When under ether
The mind comes alive
But conscious of nothing
But the will to survive

I lay on the bed
Waist down undressed
Look up at the ceiling
Feeling happiness
Human kindness

The woman beside me
Is holding my hand
I point at the ceiling
She smiles so kind

Something's inside me
Unborn and unblessed
Disappears in the ether
One world to the next
Human kindness

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lash at that Bat!

Anxiously I`m waiting for the new PJ Harvey and Jon Parish album. Already read a promising review in OOR, and they say it's going to be a very diverse album covering a wide range of sounds. It will be released in two weeks, so in the mean time I found another great one: Bat For Lashes.

She's a British singer-songwriter and will release her second album later this year. I`m listening to it now for the first time, and those first 5 songs are very impressive. On her similar artists are My Brightest Diamond (I like), PJ Harvey (I like like), Cocorosie, Cat Power and Patrick Wolf (I know and interested). So I guess this album and me are meant to be? Hopefully she will come near one day. Or maybe she will play on Lowlands 2009?

On other concert news, I bought concert tickets today for Mostly Autumn, ZzZ and Roosbeef. Mostly Autumn is a British Progrock band who were destined to be the "2nd Pink Floyd" in their early days, but seemed to have had some bumps along the way. Bumps always make people stronger, so I`m hoping for a great concert. ZzZ is a Rock 'n Roll band from the Netherlands who I saw 3 years ago on Lowlands, just after the release of their first album. The play two instruments: Drums and a Hammond. And they sound pretty massive and raw.

Finally there is Roosbeef (she picture to the left), she's a dutch singer-songwriter who seems to be either loved or detested. On 3FM (The worse dutch radiostation there is; they aim at a young audience by playing the same hits every day and talking a lot of sh*t in between) they only played her song a few times and got a lot of feedback from disapproving radio listeners. It had something to do with her singing, she has a certain style..My opinion: Bob Dylan is a great singer, and so is Roosbeef. You just have to get used to it, give it a chance. That's what I will do on a friday evening in May.
Finally: I do not like the Vivian Girls. It's too straight forward and too rickety.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Phoenix are my favorite French band.
The first song I heard from them was "Too Young", which is a great little tune on the soundtrack of "Lost in Translation", a movie from Sofia Coppola. The lead singer is actually married to Ms. Coppola, but do not fear, their marriage had nothing to do with the inclusion of this song on the soundtrack. It does not need the film to be great.

About three years ago I read some reviews of their last album "It's never been like that" which caught my attention. "A french band making an album that should have been the second Stroke's album". I bought the album and indeed, it was full with great pop songs. Listen to songs such as "Consolation Prizes", "Rally" and "Long Distance Call" and you`ll know what I mean. It's just fresh, music without worries, only great catchy songs.

Now they unveiled their first single from their new album "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix" which will be released in May 2009. Looking forward to it already. Download it here. Or simple listen to it on You Tube.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Prog Rock Britannia

Found an interesting documentary about progressive music showing its rise and demise. My music listening experience started with Genesis thanks to my dad, however I only got into their progressive roots gradually. I like the way the band is portrayed in this documentary. From the "Lamb lies Down" they noticed that making another album that would be even more complex, would not please anyone. A joy it is then to listen to a "Trick of the Tail" which is such a briliant song. Genesis did focus more on the songs than on the musical complexity, and that's probably why I never can listen long to Yes or ELP: Complexity only for complexities sake does not make good music.

That first introduction of King Crimson sounds great though, need to check that album out.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Spirit If...Kevin Drew and Peter and the Wolf

RnR on a Firebird
I will never be a highly skilled technically perfect guitarist.
And I don`t care.
I`m playing this instrument with fun and love.
And that's all that matters in my music.

For music produced by others, I am only looking for something unusual, original, fresh, beautiful, emotional, dirty, soothing, messy, uncoordinated, multi-layered, not too complicated, fuzzy, downbeat, melancholic, intelligent, soft, rough, raw, romantic, crooked, but with a great rhythm. Summarizing: I`m just looking for that certain something that rings my bell.
This is what I found in the past few weeks to be quite interesting:

As the title suggests this is an extremely mellow album. Something to wake up to in the morning. Preferably in a hammock on a tropical island with a view on a crystal blue ocean. The band originates from Austin, Texas, and was formed by the musician Red Hunter. It's genres are defined by wikipedia as "Folk, Lo-fi, Singer/songwriter". The coolest tune on this album? One which displays the album's strength? Definitely "The Bride of S. Travels" which is a delightful little tune. The first thing that makes in great are the "Ahaaaaaaa"'s. Perhaps not the most beautiful "Ahaaaaa's" you`ve heard in a song, but definitely fitting the song perfectly. The second thing that makes this song great is its topic, travelling, which makes the song perfect for daily commuters such as me. If you`ve got to run, safe travels. From the 2 minutes mark the ending of the song is set in, with a subtle guitar and Aya's to lead to song to its end.

Other great songs are "Fireflies", "Ballad of Redhook" and "This Kid I knew". Melancholy, romance and a bit of nostalgia would be to key words to characterise these songs. Finally I`ve got to mention "Bottle Rockettes", a perfect pop song. It already starts of pretty good, but at the moment when the female singer joins in to sing her lines this song goes into higher grounds. And the break "Hey now honey, I`ll be fine. I just got to clear my mind. You go have a super time, I stay here and clear my mind". And then she replies magically....well..just listen the song. It`s just..beautiful.

Starting off in complete musical chaos you might be inclined to immediately push the eject button and throw the disk in the garbage bin, but please, please, control yourself and wait. After a minute or 2 the song settles down and transforms into something a lot more soothing. If you read some of my previous posts, I kind off dismissed this album compared to other BSS releases, but after 1.5 years it has won me over. It sounds like the intended follow up to "You forgot it in people". What one me however was the fact that Kevin can write a beautiful song titled TBTF. Translated: To Beautiful To F*ck. It's a bit tragic, which I could would be the case if you found a girl who is TBTF. In other ways in can be the ultimate compliment: "You are to beautiful to be touched". Reminds me a bit of Nick Cave's Where the Wild roses Grow, but there the girl got killed. She'll stay forever young, which is again a great Bob Dylan song, a song which in turn again relates to Ageless Beauty from Stars.

Back to the album! F*cked up kid has a great hook in it, just after the line: "ah sh*t..I guess I`m in love..with the f*cked up kid". The Lucky ones is probably my favorite tune on this album. It has an great positive vibe to it, great breaks, a perfect chorus and an even better ending. After this song the more experimental side of this album starts with songs like Gang Bang Suicide, Frightening Lives, Big Love (Great song to test your speakers with or any other audio equipment). This is followed by Backed out on the, which is great rock song. Distorted guitars, loose singing, dislocated solo' has fun written all over it.

And then there is Bodhi sappy weekend, which after an easy start shows it brilliance at 47 seconds. That chord progression! Amazing! In general this album has a very relaxed vibe and it is certainly not as chaotic (read: busy) as the second and third Broken Social Scene albums, but it has it's moments of brilliance. Largely due to smart simplicity. I love this album.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Why did you buy..

Pate Benatar - Crimes of Passion
You better run! You better hide! Pat Benatar was one of the hardest rocking ladies of the 80s and this album is rumoured to be one of her best. I`m checking it out right now, and it reminds me a bit of Bryan Adams' "Reckless". Still waiting to hear "Hell is for Children" which should be a hard rock song about child abuse. <10> Which turns out to be a rather mediocre standard rock song. Ah well, it was the 80s. Musically comparable to the dark ages? Wasn`t this the decade that MTV started? Maybe that's why it was all f*cked up: visuals were getting the upper hand.

Crusaders - Street Life 300S.
Yes! I`ve got it! Street life! I`ve been looking for this song on Randy Crawford albums for the past few years. Why? Well, you can find a perfect performance below from this century, but the first time I saw them was on Jools Holland's Later a few years back. She just has on of the most beautiful voices ever, and the band is incredibly tight and good. Listened to the first side of the album and the 10 minute version of the title song is great. Worth every 1.5 euro I spent on buying the album!

Janis Ian - Between the Lines
Janis Ian - Stars

Janis Ian is one of those songwriters who made a lot of albums during the 70s but has been completely forgotten except for one song, "Seventeen", that has been imprinted in everyones brain the first time they hear it. A song that makes you silent, and perhaps a bit nostalgic. I`m just reading the lyrics and they still hit hard. "Remember those who win the game, lose the love they thought they gained, in debentures of quality and dubious integrity. Their small-town eyes will gape at you, in dull surprise when payment due, exceeds accounts received at seventeen". BAM! Get that hometown queen! I`m pretty happy to find these two albums (in goods quality) of her and hoping they will be a (serene) blast. Funny thing I noticed about these two album covers is the kind of contemplative position of her hand. Interesting..