January 18, 2008

N Y C, U S A

Sorry for the lack of posts, but I'm off to New York, New York!

I'll try hard to find lots of inspirational things to write about when I get back to Amsterdam, promise.


January 10, 2008

Make pop, not porn

A couple of days ago I wanted to post about Dear Nora's debut album, 2001's We'll have a time. Looking for a bit of background information I clicked on the band link on the Magic Marker Records website. I like surprises, but this was a bizarrely unpleasant one. Instead of the beauty of indiepop my eyes were exposed to a website with pictures of rape- and incest-sex. What the...?

I wrote an e-mail to Magic Marker to ask how it's possible they're linking to a seemingly illegal hardcore porn website, but I guess the subject words I used sent it straight to their trashcan. Mystery unsolved.

Anyway. Dear Nora. We'll have a time. One of my favourite winter evening albums.

The album was produced by Amy Linton (Henry's Dress, The Aislers Set) and she gave the record a nice lo-fi-but-clear sound. From start to finish, it's only 26 minutes short. Lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Katy Davidson writes instantly memorable indiepop songs. Add to that a simple but strong performance with some jangly guitars, pretty harmonies and an innocent but garagy feel to it all, and you get an idea of what sound to expect.

I just got home from work, turned on the heater, lit some candles and crashed in this chair. Dinner can wait. I need to relax first, and We'll have a time is perfectly soothing after a long day of stress.

Thank you, Dear Nora.
Change your website address, please?
(For the sickly curious: www.dearnoramusic.com is NOT correct)

Download (Mediafire)
1. Dear Nora - Since you went away
2. Dear Nora - Rollercoaster
3. Dear Nora - Everyone's the same

January 09, 2008

Winter in the city, part 2

I'm biking through the old city centre of Amsterdam, MP3-player playing, and not really paying... oh wait, I already wrote that.

But here I was again, biking back home from work, humming along to The Belles' Come back when suddenly I was on the ground, and with me some lady who'd crashed her bike into mine. Very much her fault only, but there's no shouting who's to blame when an old lady is on the ground fallen off her bike. She was ok, thank God. And so was her bike. Sadly, not mine. My front wheel is completely crooked, impossible to use.

For an exciting replay, here's The Belles (the 60s' garage girl group, not the 00s' male rock group).
Somewhere on the one minute mark, scream BOOM! and fall on the ground.

Download (Mediafire)
The Belles - Come back

January 07, 2008

Winter in the city

I'm biking through the old city centre of Amsterdam, MP3-player playing, and not really paying attention to anything; I've been here thousands of times before. A song fades out, and A Smile And A Ribbon's My bunny's back starts playing while I pass an obscure sex shop. A childish grin comes on my face and I wake up from my grey haze of thoughtlessness. I unintentionally scare a group of Japanese tourists by ringing my bell. I apologize, but their reaction makes my smile even wider. I take a right turn and continue cycling along the canals and the pretty 17th century houses.

The Softies are singing Hello rain. I usually love that song, but it seems inappropriate. I'm enjoying the city too much right now to get distracted by sad music. I unplug my headphones and move on.

It's easy to ignore the beauty of things that have become so familiar. Music, people, nature, cities et cetera. It's my one and only resolution for 2008: to look at everything at least once as if it were for the first time.

If you see me, say hello.

January 05, 2008

Solex for a while

In 1996 I started to study at the University of Amsterdam, and consequently moved into my nation's capital. Although not too distant from my native town of Haarlem, it was a whole new world to discover. The first thing to look out for of course were decent record shops.

One of the first shops I found was a small and quiet record store called C&D, at walking distance from Centraal Station. Record shop owner Liesbeth Esselink didn't have any trouble running the shop alone it seemed, because more often than not I was the only customer. Which, apparently, left her with enough time to browse through the unsold albums catching dust on the shelves. And to use them for her own musical experiments.

In 1998 she released her hyperactively creative debut album, Solex vs. The Hitmeister. Three equally confusing but rewarding albums followed later.

Amsterdam's indie music scene has never been a very exciting one, but these were absurdly addictive bursts of original pop fun. Liesbeth Esselink's guest appearance on the latest The Go! Team album reminded me of how I used to like these albums' collages of intriguing samples and funky rhythms.

Play any one of her songs at any moment, and you'll know who it is you're listening to without a doubt, within a few seconds. Solex sounds like Solex and like nobody else. Real originality like this is very rare, even in indieland. And sadly, especially in Dutch indieland.

I like to daydream that I contributed a tiny little bit to her albums, by not buying the albums which she later used to sample from. Yes, I'm a creative genius.


Download (Mediafire)
Solex - Solex for a while
Solex - Honey (Amsterdam is not L.A.!)
Solex - Solex all licketysplit
Solex - Good comrades go to heaven
Solex - Comely row
Solex - Honkey donkey

Insomnia / Perfect day for staying in

I'm exhausted after a couple of sleepless nights.
The weather is okay, but grey.

No parties, no drinking, no going out at all this weekend.
Thank God.

Yesterday even listening to music was too much. Too loud.
Luckily that's better today... I managed to sleep a bit.

I even found the strength to nod my head a bit to Young Marble Giants this morning.

January 02, 2008

The singer not the song

So, about cover versions...

For a long time I've thought of them mainly as rip-off versions, lesser alternatives, or at best tribute songs. Often, I hasten to say, that opinion is as truthful as it gets. But as I explained in my previous post, sometimes a new version can be as unique, as good, or even better than the original rendition.

Fabienne Delsol and the Bristols are not just contemporising older songs. Actually, if you'd say these songs were recorded 40 years ago it would be quite believable. That's not necessarily an exciting trick to pull off, but they somehow manage the whole authentic package without sounding old-fashioned at all. No matter how well I know the original recordings by the original artists, while listening to Fabienne singing I never get the feeling I'm hearing a mere update.

Quite an achievement, I'd say!

The songs they cover are mostly well chosen short songs, with fast paced grooves, and music that gets into your mind and refuses to leave. Tap your toes, sing along in your best French accent or dance around in your room. Go on, it's 2008! No need to hold back.

I added the original versions because they're great too, and this way you can see for yourself what happens with the 'Delsol-treatment'.

Happy New Year!

Download (Mediafire)
1. The Outsiders - Touch
2. The Bristols - Touch
3. Dave Clark Five - Can't you see that she's mine
4. The Bristols - Can't you see that he's mine
5. Serge Gainsbourg - Vilaines filles, mauvais garçons
6. Fabienne Delsol - Vilaines filles, mauvais garçons
7. France Gall - Laise tomber les filles
8. Fabienne Delsol - Laisse tomber les filles