Wild Beasts – Smother

May 26th, 2011

Ever since I discovered Wild Beasts just by sifting through new releases I’ve swirled around this band quite casually. I’ve always been highly amused by their quirkiness and cheek, but not for a minute did I expect them to strike an emotional chord with me. ‘Smother’ came from out of nowhere and did just that. I hate surprises, but this is an exception. Upon hearing about this new record I was slightly worried about the slow-paced nature of the songs but I reckoned they deserve a chance, so I gave it a whirl. Turns out I was the one who had to deserve to listen to this. This is all I’ve dared to put into words.

Lion’s Share‘ lifts off with a palpitating bassloop and a splash of tinkling ivory. Any frail, unsuspecting pianopop-loving creature like me would be easily fooled into believing this is to be a regular popsong with a creeping build-up and an epic climax. How we got fooled! As such an unsuspecting creature I got caught and dragged into the glowering, rumbling silence that is Smother. A silence that took time to adjust to, but quickly turned into something I never thought I would need.

The songs take you through the joys of life, the bad days and the end of things. Putting it more simply: sex, regret and death. Or in other words: everything that’s always on everyone’s mind. Yeah, you go ahead and deny it. Sex has most definitely been on the minds of all those journalists listening to this record. You can’t blame them, it’s crawling all over the melodies, the hooks, and obviously the lyrics. Now this isn’t new territory for the band, rather their unique selling point. On Two Dancers, their second album, while I thought I was only imagining things, it turned out I wasn’t imagining anything. They were actually singing about gentle fucks and dancing cocks.

Their lust for lust hasn’t weakened, instead it grew into this uncompromising longing that’s difficult to compare to anything else in music. Well, LL Cool J eat your heart out is what I say. Did the sexual innuendo sound oddly cute on the first two records, thinking of ‘She Purred, While I Grrred‘ for example, on ‘Smother’ with a song like ‘Plaything‘ it’s bordering on creepy. Or terribly sexy, whatever floats your boat. I’m constantly hovering between the two.

What drew me closer however were songs like ‘Deeper‘ and ‘Invisible‘. Tom Fleming’s the leading man here, which is no coincidence. As phenomenal as I believe Thorpe’s voice to be, (and yes, an acquired taste for many I guess) it’s Fleming’s embracing vocals that put my feet back on the ground. His voice adds such fragility to the words he’s written and they are the ones that put Thorpe’s into perspective for me. They do both seem to wander towards a deeper understanding of themselves and the human condition as personal and as unpretentious as possible. As ‘End Come Too Soon‘ draws to a sparkling, still slightly restrained close I was left, old sap that I am, moved and humbled.

As young and exceedingly talented as all four of them are, I tend to ponder the future for these chaps. But right now I wish for this record to, preferably literally, ‘surround me like a warm bath’, and let the future wait for its turn. Having relished in oldie goldie music for ages I want to enjoy whatever good music gets put out there, as a 20-something by 20-somethings. Once we reach that age where we’ll be feeling the end breathing down our necks, let us rejoice the golden days, have a pint, a good chat, and find solace in music. ‘Will you by any chance..’ ‘Yes I will’.

P.S. One pressing piece of advice before I let you watch the video below: if you ever catch them live take caution if you feel the urge to sing a long. You’ll look like a knobhead squeeking ‘Hatch me! Hatch me!’. Trust me.

P.S.P.S. Oh hold on, care for a proper gig recording featuring the new stuff? I highly recommend 3voor12′s video of their London Calling gig in Amsterdam’s Paradiso on May 21st.

‘Reach A Bit Further’ (acoustic)

A change of scenery

May 22nd, 2011

Almost two months have gone by and still there are countless people who have little to no idea what I’m up to. Some don’t even know I’ve traded the peace and calm of the northwest of the Netherlands for the Big Smoke. I feel terribly ashamed, and will try to make up for it by first of all explaining where I am and what I do, and by keeping people informed and hopefully entertained on my dramatically redesigned blog.

Some day in February I received a job offer, which had been in the making for one and a half years, but I honestly didn’t expect I’d actually get it. I had to decide quickly, so I went over all the pros and cons and told myself to go. The offer was to become a Dutch listings writer for a media company residing in West London called Red Bee Media (see an introductory video here). It’s a position for which I’ve applied in 2009, and ended up not getting it. In the meantime I changed jobs, or rather: I went from employment to unemployment to self-employment and became a photographer. A dream I’ve been chasing for years. Just when I settled in nicely working several wonderful jobs and living comfortably in the centre of my hometown Leeuwarden I received an email. So why did I go?

It really wasn’t as difficult as it might appear to be. Having been born in Leeuwarden I knew I’d leave one day to try and find new roots somewhere else. For years I’ve traveled to metropolises and there’s always been a desire to be part of it. I’ve never lived anywhere else, I’ve never studied anywhere else, gap years and sabbaticals were never an option. So nothing could reasonably keep me from going to London.

The preparations were terribly stressful. Not knowing where I’d end up and leaving everything behind nearly got to me. But I knew it was the right choice to make so I kept on packing and pulling plugs. I left on a quiet Monday, took a nearly deserted ferry and arrived in London late in the evening. The first few weeks I spent in several hostels across town, which wasn’t always a fun experience as some of you might have noticed. Reading my frustrated tweets for days on end must’ve been so annoying. Apologies for that!

I was lucky enough to find a wonderful share house, eh, excuse me, share cottage, in a comfortably quiet area of London called Barnes (it has its own wiki page, check it out). I’ve been living here for a month now and life is good. A day at a time, trying to keep up with everything happening at work (next time you’ll watch the UPC descriptions on your tv you’ll think of me) and everywhere else. A big plus of course are the copious amounts of gigs to attend, I’ve got tickets lined up for The Music, The Jayhawks, Wild Beasts and Tori Amos. That and time spent with friends in London and the anticipation of hanging out with family and friends from home in this fabulous city is what keeps me going. Watch this space!

Moving Image: Special Problems

January 28th, 2011

While searching for some interesting new music last week I came across Flying Lotus. I usually snoop around on Youtube just to hear a few tunes, but it’s a big plus if an appealing video accompanies the song. It’s a rarity these days, well at least you have to look for them yourself because MTV gave up on music videos a long time ago. That is why I want to pay attention to some of today’s most talented filmmakers working on music videos. When I find an interesting video I can’t help but look up the creator(s) and I often find a plethora of wonderful bits and pieces along the way.

Special Problems is one of those creative collaborations out there that knows no boundaries if it comes to creating imaginary videos. Campbell Hooper and Joel Kefali are the brains behind Special Problems. They create both live action and animation videos and do not shy away from blending both crafts together into one video, like they did with the Flying Lotus video I stumbled upon. I selected a couple of my favourite videos by this duo, and guess what.. the songs aren’t bad either.

Flying Lotus – MmmHmm

The Naked And Famous – Young Blood

Zowie – Broken Machine

Jonathan Boulet – A Community Service Announcement

Wolfmother – New Moon Rising

Tame Impala – Half Full Glass Of Wine

Kids of 88 – Downtown

Brooke Fraser – Something In The Water

Sound: Upcoming releases 01-2011

January 18th, 2011

The Twilight Singers – Dynamite Steps (Feb 15th)

Jenn Grant – Honeymoon Punch (Jan 7th)

Nicolas Jaar – Space Is Only Noise (Feb 14th)

Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean (Jan 25th)

Little Comets – In Search Of Elusive Little Comets (Jan 31st)

Cut Copy – Zonoscope (Feb 8th)

Shameless materialism – Autumn foliage

October 31st, 2010

I can’t promise a steady return to my blogging life. But I do miss it, believe it or not. Purely by coincidence (ahum) I started snooping around online and found some rockin’ bits and pieces from the usual suspects. For my fellow music geeks: You’ll find some hints to my musical influences if you look closely. ;)

Mittens – Urban Outfitters, shawl – H&M, bracelet – Anthropologie, peace sign earrings – Urban Outfitters, watch – Urban Outfitters, perfume bottles – IKEA, ring – Urban Outfitters, fabric watch – Urban Outfitters, cardigan – H&M, gold necklace – H&M, fabric necklace – Anthropologie, glass bowl – IKEA, lana shoes – American Apparel, red dress – Anthropologie