Categories
rock

Lewsberg – In This House

The indie-rock scene in The Netherlands is thriving, especially near the west coast of Holland. The Rotterdam based band Lewsberg debuted in 2018 on Subroutine. This second long-player is self-released. Things didn’t change much. In This House is an uncomfortable collection of minimalistic indie songs. And I love it.

The band is named after Robert Loesberg, a Dutch poet and writer that was part of De Zestigers, a group of artists coming of age in the late sixties. Loesberg wrote poems for the magazine Bijster, columns for the infamous Propria Cures (a radical Amsterdam student magazine) and published one novel – Enige Defecten. Loesberg was highly talented but struggled with addiction, anti-social behaviour and life in general. He died at 46 in his house in The Hague.

The music of Lewsberg sounds like to soundtrack to Loesberg’s life. It’s minimalistic, a tiny bit out-of-tune, rushed and in way unfinished. The lyrics are tiny masterpieces, more spoken than sung with a deliberate accent, about the ordinary things in life. Musically Lewsberg draws from Velvet Underground, early The Modern Lovers, Television and Japan.

But in essence, Lewsberg embodies a typical Dutch feeling that is also manifest in a lot of Dutch literature, from Slauerhoff to W.F. Hermand and early Joost Zwagermans to Thomas van Aalten: having absolutely no fucking clue what you are (supposed to be) doing.

I love Lewsberg.

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Categories
electronic pop rock

Deutsche Ashram – Whisper Om

In the early 1970s, kosmische rock acts like Ash Ra Temple and Amon Duül organized their own ashrams, modelled after Indian examples, in the rural areas of West Germany. The ashrams were ascetic and spiritual places that offer room for meditation, yoga, experimentations with music and drugs. By creating an open space, they offered a way out of western society,

Are Merinde Verbeek and Ajay Saggar referring to these havens of consciousness with the name of their Deutsche Ashram project? Fact is that the music on their two albums sounds like a soundtrack of a world that is embracing the blend of the individual and the cosmic body. The basis is the shoegaze like indie pop that Verbeek already experimented with in her former band Mineral Beings. Sagger, of King Champion Sounds, adds deeper layers of psychedelic and cosmic instrumentation, without drifting too far from the shoegaze sound.

The combination of Verbeek’s airy vocals and Sagger’s walls of sounds works well. On second album Whisper Om the duo is drifting from Cocteau Twins like shoegaze over Ummagumma Pink Floyd to early 1990s Madchester meets My Bloody Valentine in the excellent ‘Slackjaw’.

Oh, and don’t forget to admire the beautiful artwork. An extra reason to buy the vinyl (the other being able to use your pitch and play the songs on all kinds of different speeds).

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Whisper Om by Deutsche Ashram is out now on Wormer Bos Records.

Categories
rock

Pink Cigs – Pink Cigs

Riffs. Beards. Nostalgia.

That’s Pink Cigs from Sheffield. The self-titled debut sounds like it has been recorded in 1971, but the album definitely doesn’t sound retro or pastiche.

Yes, the influence of early heavy rock is crystal clear.

Black Sabbath. Blue Cheer. A bit of early Purple.

But there is more. The production of Pink Cigs is raw and direct. Then there is the intensity of the records. Reminds a bit of Monster Magnet’s Spine of God: this is a band that doesn’t hold back and goes all the way. Like this is the last thing they’ll ever do.

In Exposed Magazine Pink Cigs describes themselves as “Picture the toilet bowl after Sabbath, Deep Purple and James Gang went for a big stinking curry at Balti King… That’s us!”

Classic riff rock and Indian food? Does it get any better?

This debut is a must for lovers of the classic riffs, early New Wave of Heavy Metal and raw psychedelic and early stoner rock.

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Pink Cigs by Pink Cigs is out now.

Categories
pop rock

We Are The City – RIP

One of the most intense pop albums of the last decade was Violent by We Are The City. The music of the Canadian trio sounded like a blend of Coldplay, Mogwai and MGMT. Sounds like nothing else, right? Make sure to check the accompanying Norwegian-language feature film.

Their fifth album, just released on the Vienna based label Sinnbus (for Europe), is a bit more introvert and poppy, but as intense. The trio went back to Kelowna – where Cayne McKenzie, Andrew Huculiak and David Menzel spent their youth and started the band – and recorded the album.

RIP is probably style-wise their broadest album. ‘You’re so Clean’ sounds like a blend between a power-pop song and, melody-wise, a seventies Thin Lizzy song. First single ‘Killer B-Side Music’ starts out like an Elton John ballad but explodes in the middle. Make sure to check the beautiful video that accompanies the song.

In February and March, We Are The City is touring through Europe. Dates are over here.

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RIP by We Are The City is released by Sinnbus.

Categories
rock

Dead Neanderthals – Mankind

The leaders of the New Wave of Dutch Heavy Jazz (NWoDHJ) movement released a couple of tracks on Bandcamp in 2019.

‘Mankind’ is the last one. Dead Neanderthals sound there like those psychedelic drone bands at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s. Think Loop’s A Gilded Eternity meets Monster Magnet’s Tab.

The White Noise Studio in Winterswijk must have looked like a desert when Ethan Bokma, Otto Kokke and René Aquarius recorded this nearly 14-minute masterpiece.

Maybe because I’m re-reading the work of Timothy Morton, I find ‘Mankind’ to be an excellent soundtrack for the alienating effect that thinking of nature as the strange stranger has on me.

‘While crossing the desert by night, the neon lights of decades of psychedelic history catch up and try to seduce us with lush dancing and promises of alternative realities to strange to comprehend. The strange stranger is here.’

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