Tag: Utrecht the Netherlands

New Audio: Acclaimed JOVM Mainstay Amber Arcades Releases a Mournful 70s AM Rock Inspired Single

Over the past couple of years of this site’s history, I’ve managed to write quite a bit about Utrecht, The Netherlands-based singer/songwriter Annelotte de Graff and her solo recording project Amber Arcades. And with the release of her full-length debut, Fading Light, de Graaf quickly received attention for pairing crafted guitar pop with erudite thematic concerns — in particular, time and the relativistic experience of it, magic, jet leg and her own dreams, which have managed to influence a great deal of her personal and creative life. In fact, as the story goes, De Graaf used her life savings for a flight to New York and studio time with Ben Greenberg, who has worked with The Men, Beach Fossils and Destruction Unit, and a studio backing band that included Quilt’s Shane Butler (guitar) and Keven Lareau (bass) and Real Esate’s Jackson Pollis (drums) — both of whom she had specifically hand picked because she had dreamt of working with them.

de Graaf’s critically applauded Cannonball EP, an effort that landed at #1 on this site’s Best of List last year — with the gorgeous “Wouldn’t Even Know,” landing at #4 on the Best Singles list. Slated for a September 28, 2018 release through Heavenly Recordings,de Graaf’s forthcoming album European Heartbreak was recorded and co-produced in Los Angeles with Deerhoof’s Chris Cohen and in Richmond, Virginia with Trey Pollard, who oversaw horn and string overdubs from the Spacebomb Records crew. And the album sonically and thematically are reportedly a major step forward for the Dutch- born and-based singer/songwriter and musician — thematically, the album is about the nature of memory and the human tendency to over-romanticize the events of our lives. And while naturally focusing on the passage of time, there’s a disillusionment that’s been concealed just under the romanticized surface. Nothing in this life is what it really seems — and ultimately, everything can be a bit disappointing, alienating and downright strange. As Annelotte de Graaf says of the album, “If it were called ‘American Heartbreak,’ you wouldn’t bat an eye. Somehow calling it ‘European Heartbreak’ feels far less comfortable, almost like a statement in itself. I’m Dutch, hence European. The focus of the record is Europe. As for Heartbreak, for me a heartbreak symbolises any kind of falling apart of one of these concepts or stories we invent for ourselves, like romantic love, a sense of identity, nationality, an economic system. It’s kind of a universal thing in my mind.”

Sonically speaking, the material, as you’d hear on the album’s first single “Goodnight Europe” managed to be both sophisticated yet anachronistic as it finds her sound nodding at classic, late 60s and early 70s rock — in particular, Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, T. Rex and Sgt. Pepper and Let It Be-era Beatles, as the song features some impressive and bluesy guitar work paired with a gorgeous string arrangement; but interestingly, the song is both a meditation on the current state of the European Union and of a dysfunctional and confusing romantic relationship, meshing the personal and the political in a way that expresses a concern over what it all means in the first place.

European Heartbreak’s latest single “Alpine Town” is a decidedly 70s AM rock-like song centered around shimmering guitar, twinkling piano, a sinuous bass line, a mournful horn and string arrangement and de Graaf’s ethereal vocals floating over the mix. The song evokes a deeper  disappointment — that an illusion that the song’s narrator once held as true has now been proven to be false. And as a result, the song is a world weary sigh while being someplace away from home. As de Graaf says of the song “I wrote this song exactly a year ago while on holiday in Guillestre, a small town in the French Alps. I was kind of in a sad place and my boyfriend had dragged me along to get away from all that, but I guess it doesn’t really work like that, ha. It just made me reflect on the sad part of the tourist condition as a metaphor for life, man.”

Advertisements

Over the past 18 months or so, I’ve written quite about the Utrecht, The Netherlands-based singer/songwriter Annelotte de Graff and her solo recording project Amber Arcades, and as you may recall with the release of her full-length debut Fading Light, de Graaf received international attention for an album that thematically focused on the and the relativistic experience of it, magic, jet lag and her own dreams, which have managed to influence much of her personal and creative life; in fact, as the story goes, De Graaf used her life savings for a flight to New York and studio time to record her debut with Ben Greenberg, who has worked with The Men, Beach Fossils and Destruction Unit, and a studio backing band that included Quilt’s Shane Butler (guitar) and Keven Lareau (bass) and Real Esate’s Jackson Pollis (drums) — both of whom she had specifically hand picked because she had dreamt of working with them. Along with that, De Graaf had a long-held dream of working for the UN, and she eventually worked as a legal aide on UN war crime tribunals and n human rights and immigration law, assisting Syrian refugees.

Last year, saw the release of the critically applauded Cannonball EP, which was among my favorite releases last year — in particular, the gorgeously shot video for “Wouldn’t Even Know,” which featured a guest spot from British singer/songwriter, composer, producer and guitarist  Bill Ryder-Jones brought back memories of riding trains through the Dutch countryside from Amsterdam to Dordrecht, passing through and by towns like Abcoude, The Hague, Breukelen and others. Along with that, EP singles like “It Changes” and her cover of Nick Drake’s “Which Will,” revealed a singer/songwriter with an self-assured yet uncanny knack for a catchy hook within jangling guitar pop.

De Graaf’s latest single “Goodnight Europe” is the first taste of her forthcoming sophomore, full-length album slated for release later this year, and the single finds the renowned Dutch singer/songwriter’s sound leaning heavily towards Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, T. Rex and Sgt. Pepper and Let It Be-era Beatles, as the song features some impressive and bluesy guitar work paired with a gorgeous string arrangement — and the song manages to further cement De Graaf’s ability to craft a razor sharp hook around some thoughtful songwriting; in fact, the song is a meditation on the current state of the European Union, written from the perspective of a dysfunctional and confusing romantic relationship that’s inescapably odd. As De Graaf explains in press notes, “I guess about half of it is me actually being worried about the current state of the Union. The other half is me kind of messing around with, and making fun of, this archetype of the tiresome existentialist academic in me.”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past three years or even over the past couple of weeks, you’ve likely seen a handful of posts featuring the Utrecht, The Netherlands-based indie trio Stillwave. Currently comprised of founding members Michael van Putten and Marcel Jongejan, along with their friend and long-time roadie Joris Keizer, the Dutch indie rock trio have developed a reputation for uncompromisingly refusing to do what their fellow countrymen have done, instead making the trip to the UK to play some of their first shows in dingy, beer soaked clubs and music venues that their influences  — namely, Radiohead, David Bowie and Slowdive — have played in before they made it. As a result of their dedication, hustle and moxie, the Dutch trio began to receive attention and praise from media outlets across the UK and the States, including Q Magazine, Speak Into My Good Eye and others.

The band had started to achieve some level of success and attention when member van Putten and Jongejan were rocked by the departure of original, founding member Adriaan Hogervost. As the band explained to me through email earlier this month, “When Adriaan quit, it felt as if we had lost a brother. We were risking our last savings for another tour in a cramped ’94 Civic, but we knew we had to continue. Stillwave had become more than just music, it became the bond that held us together. We asked our long-time roadie and childhood friend Joris [Keizer] to join us.” They go on to explain that the band’s newest member, had a deep understanding of their dedication and passion for music, knowing that the band was each individual member’s labor of love, “an almost physical place, which we can create, enter and share with those who listen to it.”

The band’s long-awaited full-length debut Sell Another Soul is slated for a November 3, 2017 release, and as the band says about the recording sessions, “When we decided to start recording our album, we had ceased to care about compromise, polish and overanalysed bullshit, which supposedly celebrates the idea of being young and carefree. We do care. For 3 sleep deprived weeks we toiled in a dilapidated structure that would soon after be swallowed by the attempt of gentrification around it. We did away with vocal comping and held onto the tracks where we fucked up. Every second was a battle, every minute a victory.”  As you may recall, I wrote about “94 Civic” earlier this month, a single that derives it name from the 94 Civic that the band drove around in for tours across Europe, and the song was a slow-burning and dreamy ballad that featured a gorgeous but minimalist arrangement of strummed guitar and gently swirling electronics paired with yearning and contemplative vocals that reminded me quite a bit of  Damon Albarn’s solo work and his work with Gorillaz.

Sell Another Soul‘s latest single “Adelaide” find the band returning a bit to the sound that first caught the attention of this site and the rest of the blogosphere — angular, David Bowie Berlin triology-influenced post-punk with similar, moody atmospherics and a rousing, larger-than-life hook and industrial clang and clatter.

The recently released video continues the band’s ongoing collaboration with former member Adriaan Hogervost. And interestingly enough, the video stars Jop Gorris, as a man, who runs around a race track with a metal ladder strapped around him. And although, the ladder is clearly a hinderance to his movement, and he grows increasingly frustrated with the ladder — until he uses it to climb up an abandoned house.

New Video: The Contemplative Sounds and Visuals of Stillwave’s “94 Civic”

Now if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past three years or so, you’ve likely come across a small handful of posts featuring the Utrecht, The Netherlands-based indie trio Stillwave. Currently comprised of founding members Michael van Putten and Marcel Jongejan, along with their friend and long-time roadie Joris Keizer, the Dutch indie rock trio have developed a reputation for uncompromisingly refusing to do what their fellow countrymen have done, instead making the trip to the UK to play some of their first shows in dingy, beer soaked clubs and music venues that their influences  — namely, Radiohead, David Bowie and Slowdive — have played in before they made it. As a result of their dedication, hustle and moxie, the Dutch trio began to receive attention and praise from media outlets across the UK and the States, including Q Magazine, Speak Into My Good Eye and others. 

Although the band had started to achieve some level of success, the founding members were rocked by the departure of founding member Adriaan Hogervost. As the band said to me through email, “When Adriaan quit, it felt as if we had lost a brother. We were risking our last savings for another tour in a cramped ’94 Civic, but we knew we had to continue. Stillwave had become more than just music, it became the bond that held us together. We asked our long-time roadie and childhood friend Joris [Keizer] to join us.” They go on to explain that the band’s newest member, had a deep understanding of their dedication and passion for music, knowing that the band was each individual member’s labor of love, “an almost physical place, which we can create, enter and share with those who listen to it.” 

The band’s long-awaited full-length debut Sell Another Soul is slated for a November 3, 2017 release, and as the band says about the recording sessions, “When we decided to start recording our album, we had ceased to care about compromise, polish and overanalysed bullshit, which supposedly celebrates the idea of being young and carefree. We do care. For 3 sleep deprived weeks we toiled in a dilapidated structure that would soon after be swallowed by the attempt of gentrification around it. We did away with vocal comping and held onto the tracks where we fucked up. Every second was a battle, every minute a victory.”  The album’s latest single “94 Civic” derives its title from the aforementioned 94 Civic that the band drove around for tours, and the song is a slow-burning and dreamy ballad featuring a gorgeous yet minimalist arrangement of strummed guitar and gently swirling electronics paired with yearning and contemplative vocals — and interestingly enough, the latest single finds the Dutch trio gently expanding their sound in a fashion that reminds me quite a bit of Damon Albarn’s solo work and his work with Gorillaz. 

Directed and produced by former member Adriaan Hogervorst, the recently released music video stars Harold van de Kamp, as a lonely man sitting in the backseat of a car, lost in his own thoughts, further emphasizing the contemplative nature of the song. 

New Video: Catch Amber Arcades and Bill Ryder-Jones Travel the Dutch Countryside and Perform Their Duet “Wouldn’t Even Know” in New Visuals for Latest Single

Now, if you have been frequenting this site over the past year or so, you may recall that with her debut effort Fading Light, Utrecht, The Netherlands-based singer/songwriter Annelotte de Graff and her solo recording project Amber Arcades quickly received international attention for material that thematically focused on time and the relativistic experience of it, magic, jet lag and her own dreams, which have influenced much of her personal and creative life; in fact, De Graaf had a long-held dream of working for the UN and eventually worked as a legal aide on UN war crime tribunals and on human rights and immigration law, assisting Syrian refugees.  Building upon a rapidly growing profile De Graaf and her backing band went on a Fall 2016 Stateside tour with Nada Surf, while releasing several singles off Fading Light‘s much-anticipated and recently follow-up of jangling and anthemic guitar pop, Cannonball EP including “It Changes” and her cover of Nick Drake’s “Which Will.”

Canonball’s latest single “Wouldn’t Even Know” is a subtly brooding and lushly gorgeous duet with British singer/songwriter, composer, producer and guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones that gently nods at Phil Spector-era pop and the great June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash duets — and while further cementing de Graff’s reputation for jangling guitar pop, the song possesses the swooning Romanticism of finding friendship, love and understanding through the open road and through music. 

Directed by Wander Andringa, the recently released and utterly gorgeous and cinematic visuals for the song features de Graff and Ryder-Jones driving through the seemingly endless seas of green and blue of the Dutch countryside in an old Mercedes, cut with footage of the duet performing the song with a backing band that’s reminiscent of Roy Orbison’s fantastic concert film Roy Orbison and Friends: A Night in Black and White; however, throughout the footage de Graff and Ryder-Jones have an unmistakable musical and creative chemistry. Annelotte de Graaf adds, “I wanted the video to look like the song sounds: flowing at a certain pass, broody, yearning and uplifting. I also really love the Sonic Youth video for their version of “Superstar”. That inspired me to do a kind of live performance of the song for the video. Mixed together with the shots driving through the Dutch countryside I think it really captures the mood of the song. Wander did an awesome job, even though I’m pretty sure me and Bill weren’t the most easily directable “actors” (sneaking sessions watching football in a pub into the day’s program)  — haha.”  Personally, the video reminds me of sitting on trains and busses traversing the Dutch countryside from Amsterdam to Dordrecht and back to Amsterdam with a mixture of weariness from being awake and moving for more than 30 hours, awe, excitement and loneliness.