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09-01-2013 // interviews, 2012: 2012: Interview with Hip Hatchet

The year 2012 is coming to an end (actually it ended a week ago, but I'm sticking with the intro..). It is that time of the year for Christmas carols, buying presents for our loved ones and reflecting on the year that (almost) lies behind us. For us music bloggers it also means writing year lists, pretending our opinions matter to the world. Which of course, they do not, but even bloggers have dreams. These last few weeks I’ve asked several of my favorite artists of 2012 to look back on what this year has brought them. For their own musical careers, but also about the music they’ve enjoyed themselves and, if any, what their plans for 2013 are. These are their stories (yes, I did just quote the A-Team intro).

After this interview with Hip Hatchet, only one remains. After that last one and a tiny recap, I’m finally ready for 2013. I hope you are too. But for now, tonight, let’s turn off the lights, fire up some candles and listen to the finest folk album of 2012. Hip Hatchet’s Joy and Better Days is a masterpiece in all its subtle beauty. Sweet and tender music combined with sharp and brilliant lyrics. I can’t remember the last time I’ve heard so much one-liners on one album. Just listen to the 2 songs featured here (the 1st four lines of “Selfless in a City” are both hilarious and tragic) and you’ll agree with me for sure. This is among the finest albums of 2012 for me and I’m 100% sure I’ll be listening a lot to it for a lot of years to come. For now, listen to a few songs & find out how Hip Hatchet feels about 2012 and 2013.


1. If you had to name one moment, what would you consider the highlight of 2012?
Heading out on tour was pretty monumental for me. The majority of shows gave me a lot of confidence to keep moving forward with this project and reaffirmed my love for songwriting. In addition to all of that, I just had a really great time.

2. What are doing at the moment (November 2012)?
I'm producing an album for my friend Anna Hoone, working on some new songs, and working my day job(s). Trying to figure out if I can handle another Portland winter.

3. Which great band/artist did you discover yourself in 2012?
Most of the music that i discover these days is by playing shows with other artists. I've played a handful of shows with my buddy Kevin who performs under Widower. They've got a new album comin out soon with one single already released. 'Catherine' was the soundtrack to my fall tour.

4. What's your favourite album released this year?
Sun Kil Moon - Among the Leaves

5. How will you celebrate New Year's Eve?
No plans yet. Lots of cheap champagne, probably.

6. What are your plans for 2013?
2013 will see some more touring and some recording. I'd like to buy a keyboard so I can play certain songs live on keys and play backup in some other bands. Hopefully I'll be releasing a split EP with another band here in PDX. No details are locked down yet though.


Thank you Hip Hatchet for answering a few questions about your past year and future plans. I hope there’s new music coming our way this year!

07-01-2013 // Track: Bruno Merz - This Time


Great midnight song from Bruno Merz (what's in a name..?), the 1st song from a new album coming later this year.

07-01-2013 // interviews, 2012: 2012: Interview with Elenne May

The year 2012 is coming to an end (actually it ended a week ago, but I'm sticking with the intro..). It is that time of the year for Christmas carols, buying presents for our loved ones and reflecting on the year that (almost) lies behind us. For us music bloggers it also means writing year lists, pretending our opinions matter to the world. Which of course, they do not, but even bloggers have dreams. These last few weeks I’ve asked several of my favorite artists of 2012 to look back on what this year has brought them. For their own musical careers, but also about the music they’ve enjoyed themselves and, if any, what their plans for 2013 are. These are their stories (yes, I did just quote the A-Team intro).

My favorite Dutch release of the year is Elenne May’s debut album Misleadingly Soft. Her beautiful voice and great songs are a ‘one of a kind’-combination. Misleadingly Soft is suitable for any moment of the day, exceptionally fine by day, perfection by night. Just sitting in the dark, staring at the walls, taking in this album is among the best things I’ve done in 2012. Elenne May has answered the same 6 questions all the others did, read about her year & future plans here. While you listen to her fine voice, fine songs & be sure to check out the rest of the album.


1. If you had to name one moment, what would you consider the highlight of 2012?
Performing at Paradiso for the semi-finals of the Amsterdamse Popprijs, the Misleadingly Soft release of course and also, performing at NachteGiel on 3fm was very special.
I’ve had such a wonderful year, there were so many beautiful moments!

2. What are doing at the moment (November 2012)?
Well my debut album “Misleadingly Soft” has officially been released on the 15th of November in the Sugarfactory. This was something I’d been looking forward to and working towards for a long time. Right now I’m enjoying everybody’s reactions, talking to people about my work, hoping that it will spread and hang over the air as music should. I would like it to be part of a chain in people’s lives, the chain of memories and comfort. A link in the chain of music, part of the food chain, I hope she gets a fighting chance, room to grow and room to communicate.

3. Which great band/artist did you discover yourself in 2012?
I rediscovered PJ Harvey, her latest release is so different to all her other work. It’s so destructive and positive at the same time. A protest to her country and to each and every human being. An album about land and love, soldiers and dancers, beautiful!

4. What's your favourite album released this year?
“Let England Shake” by PJ Harvey

5. How will you celebrate New Year's Eve?
Out in the woods, away from all the fireworks, breathing in forest air, recollecting healthy and wise energy for a new year to come.

6. What are your plans for 2013?
To play lots of shows, my own shows, from living rooms to stages and café’s but hopefully also in collaboration with other Singer/songwriters and bands. I love working together with inspirational and creative people. I can’t wait for 2013!


Thank you Elenne May for your answers. You are on my “must-see-live”-list for 2013. Shouldn’t be too hard, and maybe that’ll even happen in my own living room (Elenne is doing living-room-concerts, sign up via her website).

07-01-2013 // Track: Bridie Jackson & The Arbour - Scarecrow

There is no other band like Bridie Jackson & The Arbour. Their completely unique sound was my 1st love of 2012. And their new single, release date February 11th, is my 1st love of 2013. It's a double A-side with a new song "Scarecrow" and a new recorded version of "All You Love Is All You Are" my favorite track of their debut album.

"Scarecrow" is their 1st new song with record company Debt Records and it is different from what we've heard on Bitter Lullabies last year. It's a dark murder ballad with a more traditional sound to it. But the harmonies Bridie & The Arbour make so special are still here, aswell as a fantastic violin-solo. Beautiful new work from this amazing and unique ensemble. The new "All You Love Is All You Are" is a cleaner version of this well-known beauty, terms such as 'better' or 'worse' don't apply. It is still breathtaking.


1st real blog post of the year: if everything is this fine, 2013 is going to be absolutely brilliant!

05-01-2013 // interviews, 2012: 2012: Interview with The Rest

The year 2012 is coming to an end. It is that time of the year for Christmas carols, buying presents for our loved ones and reflecting on the year that (almost) lies behind us. For us music bloggers it also means writing year lists, pretending our opinions matter to the world. Which of course, they do not, but even bloggers have dreams. These last few weeks I’ve asked several of my favorite artists of 2012 to look back on what this year has brought them. For their own musical careers, but also about the music they’ve enjoyed themselves and, if any, what their plans for 2013 are. These are their stories (yes, I did just quote the A-Team intro).

There are good albums, great albums and insanely beautiful albums. SEESAW by The Rest goes in that last category, or maybe even beyond. A special one, created for records such as SEESAW. It is easily described as indiepop, but it is an album that is best not talked about. You need to listen to the 10 fine songs that are on this record. Words get in the way.. When looking back on 2012 SEESAW is definitely one of the albums that stood out between the huge amount of great music I’ve heard. Each song has been my favorite at some point (those are the best albums), and that intimate live version of “Always On My Mind” is among the best live-videos on the entire web. Check out their 2012 below and listen to a few songs and of course watch that insanely cool live-vid.


1. If you had to name one moment, what would you consider the highlight of 2012?
I think the release of SEESAW have such a long wait has to be the big standout for me.

2. What are doing at the moment (novermber 2012)?
Working on building a studio. It's going pretty good so far!

3. Which great band/artist did you discover yourself in 2012?
SBTRKT

4. What's your favourite album released this year?
A tough one...still figuring out that #1 spot. But I'll say the Dirty
Projectors, Fiona Apple, Japandroids, and Frank Ocean are fighting for it.

5. How will you celebrate New Year's Eve?
A quiet party at home with some close friends.

6. What are your plans for 2013?
recording, recording, recording!


Thank you The Rest for brightening my days with that great release and for the interview. I'm looking forward to the new recordings!

02-01-2013 // interviews, 2012: 2012: Interview with Balto

The year 2012 is coming to an end. It is that time of the year for Christmas carols, buying presents for our loved ones and reflecting on the year that (almost) lies behind us. For us music bloggers it also means writing year lists, pretending our opinions matter to the world. Which of course, they do not, but even bloggers have dreams. These last few weeks I’ve asked several of my favorite artists of 2012 to look back on what this year has brought them. For their own musical careers, but also about the music they’ve enjoyed themselves and, if any, what their plans for 2013 are. These are their stories (yes, I did just quote the A-Team intro).

Among the finest releases of 2012 was a 2011-favorite: Balto. This talented bunch released “Monuments”, a beautiful 6-track EP with all the needed ingredients for a fine Americana album. It’s pure melancholia in her finest form. Intense but relaxing, perfect for dull rainy Wednesday mornings. Ideal for cold lonely winter nights sitting by the stereo with a glass of wine. And it wouldn’t sound bad sitting by the fire with a beautiful lady either. Just 6 great songs on a fine EP. You can read an interview with Balto-member Jeannot and Hip Hatchet’s interview is scheduled for later this week, but for now have a look at the answers leading man Daniel Sheron gave for Balto.


1. If you had to name one moment, what would you consider the highlight of 2012?
For the project, probably two top moments. The first was probably when we finally got to tracking the songs live in the studio in Upstate New York - it just sounded amazing in that room and it felt like such a culmination of efforts and collaboration. Then, going back into the control room and listening to the recordings we were making was pretty surreal. The second was probably a show we played immediately after we tracked the record - everyone was hot out of the studio, and the venue was down in the Lower East Side in NYC - a bunch of old friends turned up and everything just lined up.

2. What are doing at the moment (November 2012)?
I've been working my day job a bit more - My day-to-day is spent running around hospitals as a Russian interpreter. Beyond that, I've been plotting Balto's next moves and getting started on writing the new album.

3. Which great band/artist did you discover yourself in 2012?
I'd say J. Tillman's new project Father John Misty. I know that's getting huge now, and back in the spring, right when his record came out, they swung down through Portland, and I went and saw the show kind of on a whim. I was totally blown away - haven't gotten that excited about an artist (or an album) in quite some time.

4. What's your favorite album released this year?
Fear Fun - see above.

5. How will you celebrate New Year's Eve?
I don't plan that far out - I have no idea!

6. What are your plans for 2013?
Just rough ideas really - definitely going to put together another tour. and write another full-length. Excited to see what the next year's got in store.


Thank you Daniel on behalf of Balto. for taking the time for these questions. Hope you’ve had a great New Year’s Eve and I’m already excited knowing there will be a new album in 2013!

31-12-2012 // Plug in, Baby!: 2012: A year in Music

I loved 2012. I loved it from the very first week. They day I met Bridie Jackson & The Arbour’s debut record “Bitter Lullabies” was a good day. My New Year-fever (will there be as much great music as there was in 2011?!) was instantly cured. I was positive 2012 would bring us at least the same amount of great music. Maybe even more. I was not wrong.

I was not right either though. Because comparing 2011 and 2012 music-wise is like comparing a pregnant elephant with a picture of my remote control. Useless. But for me, 2011 was an exceptional music year. Due to new contacts I made via this blog I was introduced to artists and music I probably would’ve never heard off. I was worried that 2012 might not do the same for me. luckily on that specific matter, I was very wrong. Bridie Jackson was just the 1st album I completely fell in love with. Pickering Pick, Elenne May LUIK, F&M, Paper Aeroplanes, Hip Hatchet, Rebecca Brandt, The Rest, Holmes, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Idiot Wind, Conveyor, John Donovan, Dry The River, JP Haynie, Will Stratton, All Shall Be Well, Matthew De Zoete, Avec pas d’casque, Beach House and a lot more names have made this a year to remember.

And those are just the names I picked straight of the blog, the names I’ve shared with you. Artists you’ve hopefully fallen in love with yourself too. There’s are lot more great things that have not made it onto the blog for a whole lot of different reasons. The new Muse (2nd Law) is brilliant as always, but one of the biggest rock bands in the world doesn’t really need another fan review. Same goes for the 2nd album of folkies Mumford & Sons. Their “Babel” is not as overwhelming and surprisingly fresh as their debut, but it delivers. It gives me exactly what I need from them. Another personal favorite is Craig Taborn. I saw him play live at North Sea Jazz this year and it was one of the finest concerts of the year. Not the easiest of music (solo jazz on piano, are you scared yet?), but if you take the time, you’ll hear the beautiful brilliance of his music. His album “Avenging Angel” is a must-play on Sundays.

Standing in front of my ever-growing cd-collection I spot albums by BRUUT, Port Of Call, Moss, Christine Leakey, Michael Kiwanuka and more that surely brought me joy in 2012. But for them also there are all sorts of reasons they never made it onto the blog. And now that the year is over and the hunt for great new tunes rages on, they probably never will. I’m tying up the loose ends, scraping together the remains of 2012. The leftovers, for those that are still hungry for new music worth their time. These are surely worth hearing.

Anything I missed? Well, yes. There are still a few more interviews coming with my personal favorites of the year 2012. There won’t be a year list of my favorite albums, but instead we have the December-interviews. Due to me being too busy with work & all the holiday-festivities, a few will be released in 2013. It doesn’t matter though, as I’ve recently decided to continue with Plug in, Baby! In 2013. Which I wasn’t planning on doing. I don’t know why I wanted to quit, neither do I know the reasons for deciding to continue blogging. But I will.

So.. Have a great New Year’s Eve, my friends. See you on the other side!

30-12-2012 // Album: Elenne May - Misleadingly Soft


Last 'regular' post of the year, and I admit: I wanted to make it a special one. And special this album surely is. Dutch singer Elenne May has released her debut album Misleadingly Soft in November and I've been loving it from the very 1st day.


References with Kate Bush are easily made, but do her music short. Misleadingly Soft has a special something to it, making it an irresistible album. It takes you into her little dreamworld and the magic she displays is so overwhelming that it's over before you realize it. I get a strong sense of Efteling-magic when I listen to this amazing album. And just like most sensational rides in themeparks, Misleadingly Soft is a ride I wanna take over and over again. (#badjokealert) No matter how long I have to wait in line..


While every 'serious' Dutch music reviewer is drooling over Blaudzun's ego and utterly boring album as 2012s best, it is no surprise that the most beautiful album was released by someone most of them may have never heard of. Such a shame, and hopefully 2013 will help the world see what Elenne May already is in my book: a fantastic artist with a phenomenal debut album.

I love it. I love it. I love it.


(and did I mention that I love this album..?)

27-12-2012 // interviews, 2012: 2012: Interview with All Shall Be Well

The year 2012 is coming to an end. It is that time of the year for Christmas carols, buying presents for our loved ones and reflecting on the year that (almost) lies behind us. For us music bloggers it also means writing year lists, pretending our opinions matter to the world. Which of course, they do not, but even bloggers have dreams. These last few weeks I’ve asked several of my favorite artists of 2012 to look back on what this year has brought them. For their own musical careers, but also about the music they’ve enjoyed themselves and, if any, what their plans for 2013 are. These are their stories (yes, I did just quote the A-Team intro).

Next up in the interview sessions is Dutch instrumental rockband All Shall Be Well. Their 2011-release Roodblauw has had many spins this year & “History Is Ever Ours For The Reliving” is one of the finest tunes I’ve heard all year. It is very good news to know they’re working on their next album being released in 2013 (I’m giving away a little something from what’s down there, I’m sorry). Their music has something mesmerizing and very special, I usually get bored with rock music after a while, but Roodblauw is still playing at least a few times a week now that the year is almost over. And although it’s a 2011-release, it’ll go down in 2012-history for me as one of the finest records I’ve heard! Read about their year and bright future plans and check out their 1st video down below.


1. If you had to name one moment, what would you consider the highlight of 2012?
In all fairness it's much easier to name highlights of 2011.

- we released our debut album Roodblauw
- 1.5 million hits on YouTube (http://youtu.be/SUTnyUhynC0)
- recording a song for More Hope for Japan, an effort to raise money for the victims of the tsunami.

Our highlight of 2012 was the release of our first music video: http://youtu.be/LWZ2x_QOopQ

2. What are doing at the moment (novermber 2012)?
We're busy writing new songs for record number 2, which is going pretty good so far. In 2011 we started a project called '30 Second Compositions', where we release a new composition of 30 seconds every month (on the 30th). We're still writing and releasing those, and recently expanded on this project by asking film makers to visualse a composition. You can check those out here: www.30secondcompositions.com.

3. Which great band/artist did you discover yourself in 2012?
Wouter: Imannu El
Jeroen: Skrillex
Vincent: Kodaline
Bas: Stealing Sheep, Nathaniel Rateliff and Alt-J.

4. What's your favorite album released this year?
Wouter: Jonsi - We bought a zoo
Jeroen: -
Vincent: Muse- The 2nd Law
Bas: Mewithoutyou - Ten Stories / Withered Hand - Inbetweens

5. How will you celebrate New Year's Eve?
Should we have thought about that already?

6. What are your plans for 2013?
2013 will see the release of our second record. We're well on our way with writing it but still have the recording and mixing process ahead of us. 2013 will also be the year we start playing live shows again which we chose not to do while writing our second album. We hope to build on a great 2011 and 2012 and the modest succes of Roodblauw.



Thank you All Shall Be Well for answering these questions. Seeing you play live must be something special, so I hope to attend one of your shows in 2013 and that video is great!


 
 




 
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