Monday, February 14, 2011

Buy One, Get One Free!

Freelance Whales and Broken Records in de Melkweg, February 9th

Why both bands were on the same bill is still a mystery but America's Freelance Whales and Scotland's Broken Records played the old Melkweg room last wednesday. Different bands with a different sound. But if you liked both bands it was 2 for the price of 1.

Freelance Whales debut "Weathervanes" is a rich, smart album in line with other Ivy League groups like Vampire Weekend, Bishop Allen, MGMT etc. Wellcrafted songs, good lyrics and use of instruments that don't fit the standard rock format. Xylophones, keyboards, harmonies. Freelance Whales' strength is the quality of their songs that are full of MGMT/Clap Your Hands easy but effective keyboard licks mixed with some Vampire Weekend doing Graceland, Sufjan Steven's melody lines and Postal Service interplay of keyboards and vocals. It's not an overpowering rock band but a group of people who want the songs the speak for themselves, and they do.

Different and effective in a very different manner are Broken Records from Scotland. They have been around a little while longer and that shows with a mature set. Touring in support of their latest, and great, album they showed that good songs can be made great if played right. Singer Jamie Sutherland's contact with the audience was engaging and confident. Funny stories about German interviews followed. Broken Records are one of the many amazing bands coming out of Scotland with a similar style and emotionality; We Were Promised Jetpacks, Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit to name but a few. Broken Records has the addition of a violion that thanks to use of pedals never becomes a classic edition but an extra layer of sound.

Both bands might have had little in common, but seeing both live shows the many faces of rock and roll and the power of alternative music today.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Airborne Toxic Event is camping out in Amsterdam

Singing more than 350 times about your ex-girlfriend should make any guy miserable. But writing ‘Sometime Around Midnight’ and performing it every one of those shows has brought Mikel Jollett and his colleagues in the Airborne Toxic Event all over the world touring for their eponymous debut album.
April will see the release of the second Airborne Toxic Event album but while looking in their schedule the band noticed a large white space in February. So they booked some rooms, took their gear and are now, as they themselves put it, camping out in Europe. This means that apart from some single shows they will have residencies in a few European major cities. Every Monday night they will play in Paradiso’s upstairs room.
It’s always great to see band that enjoys playing, numerous times Jollett mentioned it was great to be somewhere far from home (which would be Los Angeles) but be with a lot of people. The room was almost at full capacity, and I guess it will be the same the next three shows. Playing smaller venues seem to be more enjoyable for bands as well than one big impersonal hall.
If the concert is anything to go by the new album will have some songs however that won’t be as great as on the debut. It will also be a little heavier in content, as a beautiful song about soldiers in war showed. That the band really enjoyed themselves was obvious from the very long encore which even included a great medley of Bruce Springsteen’s “On Fire”, Bobby Fueller’s “I Fought The Law” and Johnny Cash’ “Folsom Prison”.
So if you want to see an indie band that loves playing for under ten euros, get a ticket for any of the three remaining Airborn Toxic Event shows.

Some more songs:
Happiness is Overrated