Goodbye, Dutch Week, we miss you already

Well everyone, as sad as we are to say it, Dutch Week is over.  I don’t think we knew what exactly we were getting ourselves into (= a lot of good music) because now we wish we had more time!  A Dutch Decade, perhaps.  However, we had but a week, and now we have many other countries to explore (including our own)!

Before we say goodbye to the lovely Netherlands, we’d like to leave you with some more music that we discovered and didn’t have the time to review.

Kristin’s picks:

The Subhuman.  The Subhuman is from Utrecht, Netherlands and is on the Snowstar record label.  He’s a star.  His music is chill–you can hear some Sufjan influence, minus a lot of the experimenting–and I like his use of the good ole casio, and the layers he creates with vocals.  He also reminds me of this guy Niall Quinn who I saw perform at a pub in London, which will probably mean nothing to you, but he was pretty good, anyway.  Bonus: he looks like he’d be into Dostoevsky.  That’s pretty irrelevant, but whatever.  Check it yo: www.myspace.com/thesubhuman

Vox Von Braun.  Don’t judge, but we’re back at Subroutine for this one.  Vox Von Braun reminds me a of a less folky Blitzen Trapper in their sound (until the guitar riffs)–they’ve got that unidentifiable perfect balance, where everything just works.  I’m picky about sound, and they’ve found the spot where the music moves (it’s going somewhere, thank goodness), it isn’t too heavy or too dark, and it isn’t poppy twee, it’s just good freaking rock’n’roll.  Way to go, guys, I’ll jam to you in my car anytime.  If I can get your album, that is.  www.myspace.com/voxvonbraun

Johan.  Johan is on Excelsior and I like them.  I kind of feel bad for liking them because they make me think of music I listened to when I was in early high school, but they’ve got a pretty solid sound, and so why not share them?  www.myspace.com/johan

We Love People in Bearsuits.  I told you it was coming, didn’t I?  And Bearsuits is one word.  How to describe them?  I don’t know, what would you expect from a band with such a name?  Probably that’s what you’ll get.  They’re from Utrecht, Netherlands and they’re on the Badmintone record label but I’m pretty sure they’re singing/growling/yelling in German.  To be quite honest, I probably wouldn’t listen to this music, you know, every day, but it’s still fun electronic indie-pop that I would dance around to.  As they describe themselves, “in a deep forest somewhere in germany, three boys in bearsuits are playing music for the animals that live there, sometimes they come out of the forest to play their music for humans.”  Um, will you play for me, boys?  Check out their myspace: www.myspace.com/welovepeopleinbearsuits

Eric’s Picks (some of them, at least)

The Sugarettes. This is another one from the Very Sexuals family. I have been loving this music all week, but have avoided talking about it because I didn’t want Dutch Week to turn into some kind of Partridge Family orgy. But we may as well go out with one incestuous bang. Their debut Love and Other Perversities was the sexiest album of the year according to Incendiary Magazine and I am not going to argue with them. Filled with boy-girl vocals (which you know I love), hand claps, youthful exuberance, and maybe a prostitute and a porn star or two, this is one album that is immediately addicting. http://www.myspace.com/thesugarettes

NEONBELLE. We’ve been slipping it into the conversation all week, so I won’t say much about it here.This is even more from Pien Feith of, you guessed it, the Very Sexuals. Originally conceived as part of the In A Cabin With project, the trio found their sessions to be so fruitful that they will continue to work together as NEONBELLE in the future. Picture something like Feist meets Regina Spektor with Emilie Simon’s propensity for electronics and found sounds and a dash of John Adams (the composer, not the president) thrown in for good measure. Download the album at www.inacabinwith.com if you haven’t already. http://www.myspace.com/weareneonbelle

Hit Me TV. Singer Jaap, of Hit Me TV probably could have fronted any number of hair bands back in the 80s, were he more than 10 years old at the time (which I am fairly certain he wasn’t). Think the drive of the Killers’ Hot Fuss with less synth, more funky guitar work, and freaking powerful vocals. Maybe something of a cross between early Killers and Scissor Sisters, with more than a dash of danceable 80s power pop. If you’re a freak like me, may even be able to hear a bit of the Rumble Strips here and there. (I am seriously weird, though.) I freaking love this. http://www.myspace.com/hitmetv

Hospital Bombers. The name sounds ominous, I know, but I have it on good authority that Hospital Bombers are the best band in the Netherlands at the moment. Since I live way over here in Not the Netherlands, I will have to take his word for it. The quality of the music would seem to support his opinion. They have a seriously tight sound often reminiscent of the garage rock of the late 60s complete with Hammond B3, or like the Doors but faster and sober and with a girl. I like girls. I also like Hospital Bombers (five words you should never utter at an airport). Check out “The Devil’s Music” and “Neighbourhood”. http://www.myspace.com/hospitalbombersatmyspace

Skipper. Still more from Subroutine (can you tell we really, really, REALLY like them?) It’s very Phil Spector (without the crazy wigs and, presumably, murder conviction) with, yet again that vintage 60s aesthetic, at times reminiscent of the Beach Boys, see “Wasted”. Overall, there is a pervading and not at all unwelcome sweetness running through the five tracks posted on Myspace. It’s kind of trippy and really cool. http://www.myspace.com/skippermuzik

As I am sure you have probably deduced, for each band listed in this entry, there are about a dozen we have been forced to leave off the list. We would love to tell you about them, really, we would, but we have already passed 1,000 and if you haven’t stopped reading yet, you are probably at least ready to curl up and take a nice long nap. We will just have to get to these bands and more in greater detail in future posts. We hope that this last Dutch Week post will enrich your beautiful lives with some more beautiful music!  And, we hope it will equip you, as it has us, to live every week like it’s Dutch Week.

It appears I have a thing for Subroutine(s)

So here’s the thing: I was going to post about Pien Feith tonight, but Kristin beat me to it. I thought about taking on NEONBELLE instead, a band that has really won me over in the past ten days, but they’ve had two mentions already this week (make that three). I have decided instead to break away from the Pien Feith/Very Sexuals bloodline (so no Sugarettes either, though I do quite like them). But don’t worry too much, we are still keeping it in the family with another band from Subroutine Records (I can’t help that they are a good label with a taste similar to mine. So back off.)

I like music that is campy and over-the-top and ridiculously indulgent, probably more than most people. There is definitely a place for the flamboyant in this industry and it is a place where I often spend hours bathed in the lush pageantry of artists like Rufus Wainwright. I think AC Berkheimer saw a movie about it once, because, in their music, you can definitely detect an awareness of it’s existence. But there is nothing flashy or self-indulgent about this music, and that is what is so attention grabbing. The vocal is so simple, so straightforward, that it is brilliant and you begin to wonder why more people don’t do it. Then you realize that most people would sound like idiots with no chance of winning American Idol or X Factor or whatever they call it where you live. Check out “For He’s Not There” (probably my favorite track available on MySpace). It is this kind of relaxed, matter of fact singing-that-almost-feels-like-speaking (like Piney Gir or the Poems) that makes AC Berkheimer such a joy to listen to.

They are a band that is hard to pin down. Comparisons have been drawn to My Bloody Valentine or The Organ and the band acknowledges influences like the Smiths, the Pixies, and the Cure. They are not afraid of an extended instrumental break, though said breaks tend more toward the meditation side of things rather than in the jam session direction, see “Isah”. Perhaps deliberate is a good word for it–a good word for the music of AC Berkheimer in general. More than anything, they seem a band with one eye on the aethereal at all times.

Their MySpace page sums it up best, however: “…who knows what might have been the biggest influence, we just like playing music and this is what it sounds like when we do…so listen to it and make up your own mind”. That is the sort of thing that we at The Indie Handbook like to hear. And I have listened. And I have made up my mind about one thing.

I like it.

One last thing: contrary to what their Last.fm profile says, this is not available at my local record store, not that I could afford it anyway.