Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why won't you play in Timbuktu? Or why that's kind of annoying

It's something that happens over and over and over again. A band announces a tour, a festival, a gig. They give the place, the town, the places, the towns. Great of course. But what's the most frequent reaction? Wrong. It's not 'how cool' or 'I'll be there'. It's 'Please play/come to whereveritisimliving!'. Actually, scratch the please, most people are quite demanding and forcing.

In my life I've asked a band twice. But never as a responds to a tour announcement. The last time I asked was rather carefully whether the band would consider playing in Europe as well at some point. It took me days to get myself to ask this. Because I think it's rude. "Tonight we're playing in Bristol!" the band posts happily on twitter or facebook. "Play Istanbul!" "When you're coming to Vancouver" "CHICAGOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" "What about Berlin?" "Come to Ahmedabad*!" "Newcastle!!" are the most frequent type of responses. Never mind the played Newcastle two days ago. It's just rude. The band is happy to play somewhere, the people who are in fact going are happy they play there, so why go nag and whine?

It's not that I don't understand. Despite living in the big city of Amsterdam, it's not that my favourite bands are filling the venues every weekend. Or every month even. And yes I do think 'Man, if you play in that shithole, why can't you play in Amsterdam too' as well. But the difference is, I don't go whine and moan about it to the band on a public and unpersonal place such as facebook and twitter. And if you really love the band so much, try and make a nice roadtrip around it. Yes, it costs money, then you don't drink yourself silly at the gig, you might actually enjoy the show (or not, it's a gamble).

It's utterly and utterly annoying when your favourite band doesn't play the shithole you live in or isn't big enough to tour across the ocean. But nagging under a happy blogpost about a show by the band? That should be a not-done.

* Ahmedabad is a city in India

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Perfect sound forever by Bob Jovanovic

"It's sick the amount of stuff people know about those in the public eye, when they probably don't know the first thing about their next door neighbor." This quote by Stephen Malkmus (about the song 'Silence kid') probably suits well with the biography phenomenon. Why is it we want to know about the bands we love? Aren't the great albums they produce and the fantastic concerts they give enough? Some people do want to know all the dirt, some want to know who the people in the band are in order to understand where the songs are coming from and to relate more to the music and the band. In the case of Pavement, this book goes in the understanding and relating better department.

This biography is made in agreement and with help of all the band members, they all tell about their time in the band and how they thought about it. From the very beginnings of the band when Malkmus and Kannberg met and became friends, met Gary Young, how they met the others, how everything worked, it's all told here in a very readable way. The layout of the book is in its finest Pavement tradition, no page is quite the same, sometimes the page numbers are written down rather than just numbered, there's nice photo collages and it reads like friends are telling you about their band.

The book contains the highs and the lows and is honest and pure. It makes you understand more how the band worked while the members lived in various parts of the country, every album has a short description of the songs and how the album came together, it shows you about the special friendship they had and still have, plus the complexity of being and being with Stephen Malkmus in Pavement. It also gives a wonderful insight of the alternative rock scene in the nineties.

I would recommend this book to every Pavement fan and everyone who loves nineties alternative rock music. The book however is published in 2004 and a smile does appear on ones face when reading about a possible reunion in the future ("It is possible!") but it also gives a double feeling reading Kannberg's girlfriend/wife look on things and how she has been involved with the band from the very beginning knowing they're now divorced (resulting in Spiral Stair's fantastic 2009 album 'The Real Feel'). The book isn't old or outdated though, it's a wonderful read.

Originally written in July 2010 for a different blog

Could this have been a useful arguement?

I think life sometimes gives us small hints. It's up to us to recognize them. I might just have.

Today was the day I started questioning whether I'm really that lucky to have a steady job that isn't really terrible, funny colleagues, rock music blasting all day long and the freedom to wear whatever I want. It pays well too. Then there is this friend who went from a good paying but boring job to a none-paying job but that job is taking care of horses and that's something she's passionate about. There's this other friend who couldn't find a job so she started her own translating business, which she loves and while she just started, it looks very promising already. My sister can't find a job either which allows her to look across the border and writing the book she always wanted.

I get up at 06:45, go to work, go home, make dinner, watch Top Chef, do some internet business and go to bed. Five days a week. Sure, I own my own flat and everything. But, as I questioned today, wouldn't it be fun to do something I'm actually passionate about?

Just as I was in that mood I got in a little arguement with my boss. We're three people in the office, I don't see him as my boss, but I suppose technically he is. I'm sure he makes loads more money than I do anyway. The arguement was about work. He thinks we should chase the things we need to do harder, I say, without being laid back (as he claims we are), we're running hard enough. Long story short, he believes we really should have our things done and ready and collected before 11am. Now, we were too late. He had a point. This arguement that we're too late with our things now, took place at 10:25am. This time announcement is the last thing I said to him.

I'm working at the same place for almost 4 years. Worse, I haven't changed jobs ever since I live in Amsterdam. I've changed jobs more often than I moved house. I moved about 8 times in my life. I've never been a steady person. I thought I found my place and I still believe that's true, I wouldn't want to move house. But a different job, something I'm passionate about...

Last Saturday at the Kaizers Orchestra show I tapped a photographer on his shoulder. I've seen him more often at shows so I asked for who he was taking pictures. Not only did we end up talking about great, smaller bands and what a pity it is bands change once they get HMH-big (like Kaiser Chiefs, they just weren't fun shooting anymore because they lost their spark in a big venue, aren't I saying that for years myself?), I recommended to him to shoot pictures of The Boxer Rebellion which he would as he liked the band and we started talking about the Cribs and how they'll never get their break-through in the Netherlands and why that is and why perhaps it's best that way. I alsi asked him how he got this job. He just started it and loved it. I don't know if he has a job on the side but right now, I'm quite jealous of him.

I'm not complaining about my job. It pays for the things that I do, for the roof over my head and makes sure I don't have to eat rice with butter every day (for instance). It makes sure I can go to gigs, make weekend trips to England, buy records, buy cameras, films and develop them as well, it feeds the pets. Guess I do miss some kind of spark. But is it worth losing security for?

Monday, March 28, 2011

A real girl's opinion about the Real Girls Show

There's a new TV show in the Netherlands with the sole purpose of entertaining the public with the stupidity of the people participating. They put a bunch of so-called bimbos, girls who have been on TV before in shows where they transform from misbehaved bitches into ladies, contestors of ridiculous dating show Take me Out and other shows where you question the sanity of mankind. The show puts these girls in the jungle of Suriname. Oh jolly good fun.

The trailer of the show shows the 'babes' arriving with loads of suitcases, sexy bikinis, nail polish, earrings and whatever 'babes' bring to a summer vacation. These girls need to survive in the jungle. One of the girls defends her suitcase and belongings. "Oh come on, it's the jungle, not the bush-bush." To give you another idea of the people in this show. "Famous people from Suriname? Nelson Mandela is one, right?" says another contestor with a face as if she really had to think long and hard about that. These girls are portrait as dumb as donkey shit, only caring about appearances and without any skills whatsoever. Oh, and they screech so nicely and a lot. Of course. Top class entertainment right? Dumb blond bimbos without a clue in the jungle of Suriname. And what do you call a show like that? Well, of course:

Real Girls in the Jungle

Real girls? Real girls?? So real girls are dumb, screech when they see a tweak looking like a snake, only caring about how they look and think boys will take care of everything for them?? And it's fun? Did my grandmother burn her bra for this?

The Animals Protection Agency put out a complain against the show as they had to kill a chicken with a stick and a blunt knife. Much to hysterical reactions obviously. That's no way to kill a chicken, let alone the stress the chicken had to go through with the girls. I can agree with Animal Protection.

But I feel that we women should step up and complain as well. Calling this Real Girls is displaying all women as being weak and dumb and dependend. I would even question if the girls in the shows really are as big of bimbos as they are displayed at. A girl who takes the lead and makes a decent camp isn't in one way entertaining of course. Then we'd watch Expedition Robinson. Shows like these keep women down. Have them displayed as fun objects. I mean, really, 40 years of feminism, why do we keep putting up with this? Why do women still allow this to happen? To them. To us. I'm going to write a complaint to RTL5 regarding this show. Give me time to find the right words. But what Animal Protection can do, so can I, as a woman.

To be continued? (and shame on Quintis Ristie for participating as well)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Kaizers are back in town (review Kaizers Orchestra, Paradiso 26-03-2011)

Kaizers Orchestra are a 6-piece band from Norway, singing their not every day rock songs about not every day events in Norwegian. I first heard them in a record store that no longer exists and my curiosity was awoken. Long story short, I bought the albums, went to see them live, and live they are one hell of a party. It's not for everyone. You either frown and think they're a bunch of posers or you'll love them. For that reason I stopped recommending them to people. If you decide to check them out after reading this review, great! If not, that's okay too.

They're released their latest album Violeta Violeta volume 1 little over a month ago. The last time they played Paradiso, almost exactly 3 years ago, not many people turned up. It looked like people had seen the Orchestra and the novelty had worn off. This Saturday it wasn't sold out either, but it was packed and this time they also opened the balcony section, opposed to last time. A good sign. Also, it being a weekend, a lot of Norwegians decided to take a weekend break to Amsterdam. The band quickly was aware of that. And would use it, maybe not entirely in favour of the Dutch audience.

With a new album in their pocket, the band started with the classics, the oil-barrel oompa sound with songs about civil wars that never have been, the mob, betrayal, friendships and the doom and gloom of life. The sound of the band may appear happy on the outside, the songs are anything but. With the old songs, mainly from their first two albums (they got 6 under their belts, plus 2 live albums) they really pleased the audience. Especially singer Janove Ottesen knows how to play his audience and the audience lets him. Whether this is because we want to or to please him, it doesn't matter. This was an old-school Kaizers party with singing, clapping, dancing and jumping. And loads of it.

'Why are you Norwegians here?' Ottesen asked already early in the near 2-hour set. 'There's a football match on!' Norway played Denmark in the qualification round for the European Champions football cup. Leading 2-0 that called for a celebrations. The Norwegians were happy, the Dutch were happy - up until Ottesen challenged the Dutch by sincerely believing that Norway would then have to beat the Dutch and would in fact beat the Dutch. To do this once, that's fun. Even for the Dutch. But he took it a little to far, even when Denmark equalized. But luckily for them, Norway won 3-2 and would beat the Dutch in the final European Cup in 2012 as they now had qualified. In reality, after reading the newspaper today, Norway never lead by 2-0 but were down 0-1 for a very long time and had a lucky escape by equalizing in the final minutes. We could have known when Ottesen started calling out the names of Dutch football players of course. Van Basten, Gullit, Cruyff. What century was he living in when saying that?

This was the only negative side to the concert, it really was a big party. Not just on stage with the guitarists Geir Zahl and Terje Winterstø frequently coming to the middle of the stage, oil-barrels were smashed in front of our eyes, Rune Solheim stood on his drums frequently, double-bassist Øyvind Storesund really was the most modest of them all and organist Helge Risa wasn't always wearing the trademark gas mask but of course he did when smashing a rim at the stage centre. And Ottesen danced like a madman, conducted the audience, controlled the audience and tap danced until the rest of the band dragged him away.

The new album had a relatively small place in the show, only playing a handful of them. This was of course a bit odd, especially leaving out the leading single 'Hjerteknuser' but Violeta Violeta is a 3-album affair, we might get more of that when the other albums are released as well. The main focus were really the older songs but no one who really mourned that.

The crowd was most of all loud. And knowing that the last time they were here it turned out great, the set ended with 'Min kvite russer', a slow song, played only with the organ and Ottesen sitting on an oil barrel (the rest of the band joined the stage later for the vocal harmonies). The song ended in a beautiful sing along of the audience (!) impressing the band big time.

Going to a Kaizers Orchestra concert is entertainment. Without losing grip of what the band is about in the first place, the music. They're all very professional musicians, but they like to turn their shows into a dancing and singing party. Mission accomplished.

pictures taken by me, click for bigger size

Friday, March 25, 2011

That's the way it is - remembering Mel Appleby

When Dutch ska/punk/pop band Doe Maar split I was in shock. I was about 8 years old but I was devastated, as I've written numerous times before in this blog. I also mentioned that there's a hole in my music-memory after they split, not knowing all the popular bands that were round at that time. Duran Duran? Wham? Dolly Dots? Spandau Ballet? I had no idea. Up until I found a new band I loved.

This band, or duo more likely, was Mel & Kim. They were two sisters from London who had their first hit in 1986/1987, depending on where you lived. They were discovered by Stock Aitken & Waterman who would be the ones to launch Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Big Fun, Sinita, The Reynold Girls and many more upon us. Mel & Kim have released one album, four singles and released a total of 11 songs all together.

I loved this band so much. My barbies (I was about 10) were dressed like them, I bought the magazines they were in, I bought every version of their album (I own 3), every single I found, every 12". Same track listing but different cover? The item was mine. You could say that Mel & Kim were the first band I got record collecting about. With Doe Maar I depended on my parents buying me the albums, but now I devoted my pocket money to Mel & Kim. I even dared to amateuristic do my hair like them. I played their album, a 9-track affair, constantly. It was pop, dancable pop with a r'n'b basis. I was massively into Mel & Kim.

Mel fell down the stairs. She was down with a serious back injury. This was a set back but she would return right? It was only a back injury. Right?

They hadn't actually lied, she was down with metastatic paraganglioma, cancer. It was denied for a long time but when pictures emerged of a very swollen Melanie trying her first steps again, they confirmed that she had in fact cancer. It wasn't the first time she had suffered from cancer, she had liver cancer at the age of 18. She would be okay. And she wasn't thinking of dying. In a German magazine they spoke about death but I cut it out of the article prior to sticking it into my scrap book.

They released a new single in 1988. Things would be okay. They had to be. It became quiet about the girls again. Until January 1990. It rained that morning. I met with a friend at the traffic light, like every morning, as we drove to school together. She told me Mel had died. Liar, I said at first but then I cried. I cried on my bicycle in the rain all the way to school. At school people came to me telling me they were sorry for me. Back home I sat under my desk unable to look at my posters, looking at Mel smiling on these images. She had died of pneumonia, she was weakened by the chemotherapy. It was said she had beat cancer.

Mel was only 23 when she died. It's nor her birthday today either, but I had to think of her today, as I do every now and then. She was such a bright spirit, her laughter features in their UK number 1 'Respectable'. She was the first musician who died while I was being a fan. I hope other people remember her as well. Even if it's as part of 'that annoying Stock Aitken & Waterman production'. For this 11-year-old, she was cool. And, as questionable as it may seem now, a fashion icon.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Boxer Rebellion Experience (review Melkweg 23-03-2011)

The Boxer Rebellion. First seen as a support act by a good friend around 2004, quickly picked up by my sister after that and me tagging along most of the times ever since. I kept tagging along because despite the band being dropped by their label, playing in shoeboxes in England, support slots for The Editors, remaining unsigned and doing everything, and I mean everything DIY, releasing through their own label and working in shoe stores to finance their gigs, this band is really good. Their sound is massive, strong. Filled with melody, rhythm and angsty themes. I've always enjoyed their live shows, always solid, always strong. They sound GOOD and that's good with four capitals. They're currently touring their new album, 'The Cold Still', which is received by good reviews and praise. At last! The band is, in 2011, getting the praise and attention they deserve. And it's nice to see. Really nice to see.

The band played De Melkweg on Thursday 23d of March in Amsterdam, the first show of their current European tour, it wasn't sold out but it was packed. It was the biggest stage I've seen them play as headliners, according to the band it was their second biggest gig ever. Which was met by cheer from the audience. The band was clearly in good spirits, smiling, using the space they had on stage, walking around and enjoying what they were doing. Playing their 3 album reportoire.

The sound of The Boxer Rebellion is massive. Strong bass, heavy drums. Amazing guitar skills. It's hypnotizing if you like. A song by the Boxer Rebellion, and this especially live, gets you, grabs you. You get into it, you rock out to it and as explosively the song starts and remains, as explosively it ends. You wake up, wondered what happens before they take you on another journey. There's no words to really fully describe it, it's an experience and the experience is massive and GOOD. You rarely see a band sounding as clear on stage than they do. Time after time after time. They even get better!

After the shows there was a run after the albums. The merchandise table was a battle field. I've rarely seen anything like that ever before and now for the Boxer Rebellion. People were pushing and shoving and actually nervous because what if they sold out. The band still does their own merche sales and were clearly surprised by the run on their CDs and t-shirts. They had no idea what was happening to them. It really was like they were handing out rice to the starving. But despite that my sister was able to give her request for their next tour. They're still the guys they were back then, only getting bigger as a band now. It's fully, fully deserved. I strongly advice to go see them, they're touring intensely these coming months in Europe, America and the UK (if I'm not mistaken) - the website doesn't list the European tour in May yet, but they're playing 5 shows in the Netherlands for sure. You might fully understand then what I've been trying to tell up here.

picture taken from flickr

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My year in music so far

Almost a quarter of a year has passed already, so what has this year brought so far and which new promises did it bring? Here's some of my personal high (and low) lights of the year in music so far. 2011 is still looking fingerlicking good!

Wild Flag
Last year I knew the band existed and who was in. Now I've heard a studio recording and have watched them live per live stream at SXSW. I've heard and seen the women in action now. Verdict? This is what rock music needs. This is what punk needs. This is what women need. This is what I need. Wild Flag is a great rock band who enjoy what they're doing. Something that's actually refreshing. The album will be out this Autumn on Merge Records. This one is candidate for Record of the Year, based on the songs live so far. High expectations can easily lead to high disappointments but this time I don't think that will happen.

So.... Radiohead suddenly released an album and had the entire population of music geeks in extacy. For me it's been a load of shit that's been released. Seriously, how many obscure bleeps, whacky piano loops and annoying vocals can you squeeze into one song? And this 8 times! I congratulate Radiohead with the surprise the release was but I officially won't call myself a fan of the band anymore. Yeah, I'm a stuck-up bitch who claims that they used to be better in their early days. Fuck that, it's true!

The Splinters
Didn't know them last year but these Brooklyn women have stole my music heart by storm. They also have a tambourine player. Yes, a sole tambourine player. I think that's class. And the songs are great too. They're one to watch.

The Cribs
Played their last show at the end of August at Leeds festival last year. Announced a two year break. Fast forward 7 months and they're back together in Wakefield recording songs in the drummer's garage. The return of lo-fi they're calling it themselves. Sounds promising. Johnny Marr is on his way to Moscow for one thing or another. Fine. Not sure if he'll return to the band but as great as it's been, I wouldn't really miss him. The punk male counter part to Wild Flag? This is a huge compliment I'm making to the Cribs who I rate extremely high and to Wild Flag. This is no offence. This means that I'm really happy with the Cribs' quick return. Bring it on!

The Boxer Rebellion
Following that band since (roughly) 2004 thanks to my sister. 2011 seems to be the year the rest of the world wakes up and seems to embrace them. They fully deserve that. But it's still weird. Why now? Why not three years ago? These guys had to work in shoe stores to keep their dream alive. They're really independent, releasing everything on their own label, everything independent for real. It's hard work. It's paying of. It's almost surreal to witness. But fully deserving.

Images from:

Monday, March 21, 2011

Interesting quote by Carrie Brownstein

"Janet hates slow songs. She hates listening to them and hates playing them, so if Mary or I bring in something too slow or sensitive, Janet will just bang the shit out of the drums until our sensitivity is obliterated."

Carrie Brownstein on Janet Weiss

Knowing this, bring on that Jicks album!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

After Friday comes Saturday

I've been one of these people who went 'Who is this Rebecca Black and why is she trending' for an entire week. I read some apparently lyrics from her song (she's a singer, I got that much), they were said to be ridiculous. Friends I followed questioned whether the release of this track was something serious. I caved. Went on to youtube on a Saturday, checked out her track 'Friday'. This pun is so bad I apologise for it.

I expected the absolute worst. What I got was a simple popsong-by-numbers. Very American High-school, very bubblegum, very teenager and it even had a gansta-dude rapping the bridge. Yes, her voice is auto-tuned. Yes, her lyrics are kind of dumb (but very simple, she tells her day routine). Yes, she looks made. I don't like the song. But then, I don't like bubble gum pop music. I don't like Justin Bieber either. I think the entire circus about him is ridiculous. Why market that kid so much? Yet, it's impressive. And in a good few decades we have a new case of Charlie Sheen but that's another story.

Back to Rebecca Black. Why attack her? This is kiddie music. Hate it all you like but face the truth. There's a market for that and if you're not the market, don't bother. For the specific genre and target group this song is made for, there's nothing wrong with either her or the song 'Friday'. I think the song is rubbish, I wish I hadn't given in to what the bonkers people were talking about, but in end effect, is it really worth talking about? There are so many artists and songs like that, again, I don't want to be bothered with it, but it's there. Let it be.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

So, you have a twitter account.

There's a time and a place for everything. Often this place is not Twitter.

Twitter is a place where you can post little blurbs of what you are doing, where you are, where you're going. A place to say something about things and to people if you must. You can chit chat on twitter.

Keep in mind that whatever you write on twitter will possibly be read by your following. That following could form an opinion not just about that particular tweet but also about you. It's fine that you don't care about that. But take the concequences.

To keep it short and simple: Enjoy tweeting, but tweet responsible.

My own bootleg revolution

Bootlegs. They used to be valuable. Kids would record shows, copy them on tapes and pass them on. Some more advanced kids would even press them on vinyl and sell them in shabby record stores. Later on they got copied on CD and spread/sold amng fans and sometimes you'd find them in second hand record stores. Pearl Jam would release every show they did on CD and sell them all over the world in record stores. If you were lucky the sound would have been good, filtered so you wouldn't only get the 'yeah yeah woohoo yeah' from the person who stood next to the person who recorded the show. Along came the internet and the MP3, file sharing sites and youtube. No longer we'd pass on cassettes of a show. We go on youtube, ask in forums if people had recorded the show and mock if no one wants to upload it. We're spoiled aren't we?

I'm not really a big fan of listening to live recordings, it's met with a lot of misunderstanding but it doesn't really appeal to me. I rather be at the show myself or listen to the studio recording. I don't mind the recordings itself, but I don't really like listening to it, that's more like it. I get iritated when the radio isn't tuned properly and you'll hear a minor rustle or other disturbances. This might seem like I'm overreacting but it makes me turn off the radio and rather sit in silence. Knowing this you might understand why I'm not the biggest fan of listening to live recordings, whether you agree or not.

I own live recordings. I have a few Kent bootlegs at home, but I never listened to them. I have the Kaizers Orchestra live album. Listened to it once. I have a live CD of the Cribs that came with the Roses Edition of their latest album. Never listened to it. I own the live CD that came with a special edition of the New Fellas. No, never. I'm a record collecting nerd though. So these are albums that have a place in my collection. I wouldn't necessarily download them from the internet if that would have been the only place I could get these. Unless I was at that show. In that case I'd consider.

However. I do own two bootleg recording of the Bangles on cassette. These shows are from 1983 and 1986. I love them, the 1983 show more than the 1986 show, which mostly is becuase the 1983 is more garage than 1986. In 1983 there were no walking Egyptians and manic Mondays. I've played these tapes a lot and I still occasionally do. I love some old school Bangles and these are live recordings I can listen to. The mysteries of life.

So, with my history of letting digital bootlegs pass me by, why am I being so excited about the few Wild Flag bootlegs I found? I haven't been in the position to listen to them yet but I intend to. Heck, I even intend to copy them on a disc! Could it be, considering that the Bangles bootlegs are the only ones I listen to on a relatively frequent basis, that I only like women's bootlegs? That's nonsense. I think with Wild Flag it's a totally different story and it might relate to the tape sharing from the early punk days.

Chances are that you don't understand why I'm so much into Wild Flag in the way that I am. I'm at the wrong side of the ocean for one to really participate in this start of the young punk/garage/nugget band. But there's sincerely a revolution going on. Think Riot Grrrl. Think Nirvana. (think that this was all around the same time and these girls were musically active themselves around that time). Something's going on. And despite living on the wrong side of the ocean, it's possible thanks to the band being relatively active on both twitter and facebook, to be part of it anyway. It's because of Wild Flag I got myself a facebook in the first place, I was highly anti-facebook. Even if you'd think Wild Flag are nothing less than a bunch of middle-aged women who are living a midlife crisis (shame on you!) then so be it. Maybe that's exactly what I am then. I know of course that this is not the case. Wild Flag is a little music revolution. They're loving it. A bunch of other people are loving it. I'm loving it. And if that means consuming bootlegs before the first album hits the stores, it's all part of the game. I love this game.

Friday, March 11, 2011

If only I liked radio friendly rock huh?

I think we all know these people. Those who are out there to name the most obscure and unknown bands as their favourite bands. I'm not sure if I ever fell into that group, and don't answer me, but I know one thing. I might be doing it right now but I'm not doing it on purpose. Damn you internet for letting me know about all these awsome bands who strangely enough aren't found by other people I know. I love listening to great music. It's even better if you can share the joy.

I'm sorry, I don't like radio-friendly indie, it's not because I'm a snob but I just really don't like (most) of it. I'm sorry that most of the music I like seem to origine from Portland. It just happens. I'm sorry that the current breeze of true rock and punk is an all-girl-band whose band-members are each and one respected musicians already and I'm sorry they do what one would expect them to do. I'm sorry for the internet because without it I wouldn't have known about all this and perhaps life would have been easier. I'm not saying nicer or better, but easier.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hello, Kill Rock Stars!

It's International Women Day today. You can think about it what you want, sadly a lot of people think it's something like giving your girlfriend some roses or something. It's not Valentine's Day! It's a day to think about how women all over the world still aren't treated equal to men. Women are being stoned to death because she was raped. A baby girl in China is often abandoned. Women should walk a few step behind their men. Women are married off. In less extreme cases and in our modern world women are paid less for work, still looked at as sex symbols and lust objects. Girls don't rock, men do.

This entry isn't about this actually, but it's an introduction to why Women's Day is there. It's emancipation women (and men!) have fought for and are still fighting for. Men too, yes. Because not all men are acting like they rule the world (aka remote control) simply because they are men. No, this entry is a big Shout Out to the record label Kill Rock Stars which started in 1991 by Slim Moon who ran the label till 2006. This label kicks some asses and then some. Why exactly they tell perfectly well on their website so I quote:

KRS's mission is to continue putting out exceptional records by important artists, and our tradition of being queer-positive, feminist, and artist-friendly continues as well. We are now distinguished by being one of the few female-run indie labels in the US, which we are proud of, but all that really means is get out there and start your record labels, ladies! (Check out our FAQ page (...) for a great guide to starting your own label). At KRS we believe in doing it yourself, and we see our job as helping bands to realize their visions. In a culture that rewards making mediocre music with a quick buck, we feel lucky that we get to work with artists who challenge mediocrity on a regular basis. Plus we love the music. Enjoy!

It is exactly therefore I want to post a few clips from recent KRS artists. And they also have men on their label of course. Please take a moment and enjoy at least a clip or two. You won't regret it. Happy International Women Day y'all!

Quasi - Little white horse, from the best album from 2010 'American Gong'.

The Thermals - I don't believe you, from the 2010 album 'Personal Life'. Get a song from Hutch Harris' 'solo' project Forbidden Friends here, for free!

Grass Widow - 11 of Diamonds, from the 2010 album 'Past Time'.

The Raincoats - Fairytale in the Supermarket. Their debut album has been re-released on KRS in 2009.

The Decemberists - Down by the water (live), from their 2011 release 'The king is dead'.

The Corin Tucker Band - Riley, from the 2010 album '1,000 years'.

Thao with the Get Down Stay Down - Cool yourself, from the 2009 album 'Know better learn faster'.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

My first Wild Flag review based on actual sound!

Ever since I know about the band Wild Flag I'm a little obsessed with that band. It started when I only knew who was in the band and they hadn't even recorded a single song, nor had they ever performed. Who's in the band? Janet Weiss. Carrie Brownstein. Mary Timony. Rebecca Cole. Four rock goddesses. This could only end well. This could only kick ass. As soon as they started performing youtube films emerged. I'm not a big fan of other people's recordings because no matter how hard you try, it's wobbly and the sound's rarely good. I watched a few clips because I needed to know if these women were really as good as they should be. It was confirmed, they were. They kicked ass. Pure rock n roll. Dirty, raw and pretty amazing. They rocked. They just rocked. I know my chances to ever see them live are slim but it didn't stop me loving this band more.

The band will release a 7" for Record Store Day. This annoys me. Because considering the band is worshipped by a certain group, that group isn't very big, I don't think the European press even knows this band exist or they don't understand what the Big Deal is. It's American Alternative Rock I suppose and that doesn't do well in Europe. (Kings of Leon is NOT American alternative rock). So the chance that I will ever get my hands on that record are about zero. But since Friday 04-03-2011 at least one song is streamed online. 'Glass Tambourine' is the first studio recording we ever hear from Wild Flag. Are they worth the obsession? The adoration? The anticipation? Well, Hell Yeah!

'Glass Tambourine' starts with nice vocal harmonies, almost sweet (yet raw) guitar, a tambourine and has a bit of a nice 60s pop feel to it. Then after a few minutes the song breaks. There's an a-capela bit (supported by an interesting bass-line) which leads into a mean guitar outburst with killer drums and other great sounds. It gets dark and psychedelic. It roars, it rocks and it kills. Roll over Jimi Hendrix, what a guitar sound! This is how rock was intended to sound. The band did everything except disappoint and with the high expectations, that's quite an accomplishment.

I love Wild Flag. I've played this track over and over again. I also admit to pretty much crappy record it from the internet, the quality of my recording is pretty lousy but at least it's on my walkman now. The album is to be expected in September and the waiting will be long. I will get that album. Wild Flag has managed to become one of my favourite bands and now with actual audio proof. I trust these girls. They absolutely rock. They are an inspiration as well. Thank you for being Wild Flag.

I ran for women's rights

My highschool was close to a athletics track, really just around the corner. Therefore it often happened that our gym class took place there, to much moan and complain of course but in hindsight it wasn't that bad. We did sports such as hockey and handball. We distant-jumped and we jumped high. I wasn't, considering my lack of height, bad in high-jumping. We also played softball which introduced me to the highschool law that when you're good at sports you're in the running of being popular. I was good at softball to everyone's surprise, mine included. I'm a mean batter, I ran a lot of homeruns. This made me like softball. It didn't really make me popular, but at least a bit more. And of course, there was a lot of running. The track was famous for Nelli Cooman running a few world records on the 60 meters. I wasn't very good at sprints. I'm really not an athlete. But I was surprisingly doing well on long distances. I remember very well running a 1000 meters and being in front the entire time. I was winning. A teacher who was running with us wasn't very keen on being outrun by one of the school's classic outsiders and overtook me in the last 100 meters. He did that on purpose, what's the point in a teacher winning from a student at 1km running during gym class? He became my history teacher later on and we never got along, he even told me in the first week of that year that I should consider myself lucky that he wasn't my mentor that year or else I would have had a tough year. Ah, highschool...

Fast forward a good 17 years ago (take or leave a few years). I haven't participated in any sports since. I do a fair share of cycling. My home-work distant is over 10km long and I'm doing that every day on my bicycle, no matter the weather condition (if it's truly awful one of my colleagues do take me home). I've stopped running for public transport unless I need to catch a connecting train or whatever ever since I squashed both my knees in order to catch a subway that leaves every 5 minutes. I caught the subway. Ever squashed a knee? It hurts, it's blue and you can't bend your knee for a good week at least. Now take that condition for two knees and try sitting on a toilet. Not worth catching that subway for.

So much for my sporting life. It's pretty much none existing though the thought of take on running has crossed my mind a few times. Never seriously. What made me decide taking on the Mokumse Vrouwen Loop is still a little mystery. Mokum = Amsterdam in old-Amsterdamsh, Vrouwen = women and Loop = run. I think it was the cause, the profits went entirely to MamaCash, the oldest international women's fund, which helps women all over the world in their fight against violence, discrimination and poverty. And, I quote, "They strive for equal rights, economic justice and a safe environment for themselves and their communities - often with little financial means and with admirable dedication. Mama Cash supports these women because she believes that everybody - women, men, and children - benefits from investments in women's rights and bettering the position of women. In other words: Mama Cash believes in the power and ability of women to change the world." This foundation was established in the Netherlands in 1983. I read it in a local newsletter and thought "Hey, I'm going to do that." There was a choice of running 2,5 km, 5 km and 7,5 km which could also be taking as a walking course.

In the end I was sensible and chose 2,5km. Again, I have no walking training. The weather was lovely today and I signed up, got my number and a chip that would track your time. When I got there I started to get intimidated. Those women looked like they're running every day. Good running gear and everything. I looked at the track. You had to run a bit on the track before going into the park. I decided to at least make it to the park. I approached another woman who would walk the 2,5km and she told me she wasn't trained either and nor was her friend. I felt better until they both mentioned they did use to run and this was a catching up thing. Oh dear. Nonetheless I decided to stay close to these two women, to at least know how fast I should start running. What's the worst that could happen? Taking part in this was already a good thing and that is true.

I will not review my run, that'll be boring. But I didn't stop once to catch my breath or anything, I kept running. I didn't crash down after finishing. I didn't need medical attention. Not that I would have been able to run another 2,5km at that point but I felt reasonably fit. My side only hurt the last 200 meters. I actually ran 2,5km! I did it! I amazed myself. I ended 6th or something with a time slightly under 12 minutes. The pain will come later I suppose.

Will I take on running on a daily basis? No. On a weekly basis? Probably not. But just to know I can do it is a nice feeling altogether. And I got a nice little bag to remind me of this day filled with a bit of beauty products samples and a night cream. Which came in hand as mine is almost finished. It's a women's walk after all.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Your daily news fix or do we really want to know?

Oh wonders of Twitter! Thanks to following Ricky Wilson I've been informed about this article in the Sun. I never surf to the Sun, I only click links with a frowned eyebrow wondering what the fuck this will be about. And this was no exception.

Because you see, The Sun has discovered that Robbie Williams is human. Robbie has put on some weight and got some grey hairs. Robbie Williams is married and 37 years of age.
Apparently Robbie Williams playing charity football with a tummy and grey hair is headline news. It really makes me wonder, the entire article is one lame word joke after the other as if the 'journalists' of the Sun have written out a compitition who could possible put the most lame (word) jokes in one article and this one won. Congratulations.

Leave the guy alone. Hate him, love him, he had a pretty nice solo career and now, somehow someone talked him into playing with Take That again. He loves being in stage so let him be, it looks good on him, even with Take That. Does the world really need to read about his grey hair? Are we really interested? Of course we're not. But we know these things and form an opinion about it. Or not. It left one question for me, unanswered:

Why was I following Ricky Wilson on Twitter again?