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Archive for February, 2011

Birds and Batteries – a panorama from the Bay Area to Austin

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Here is yet another Bay Area-based band that will perform at our showcase at SXSW 2011. Birds & Batteries is one of the more interesting electro-pop bands that I have listened to lately. Their sounds are catchy, complimented by somewhat trippy sounds and psychedelic lyrics — it all works, making a real pleasure for the ear, something I’d like to listen to while driving in the car or riding on my bike across the bridges of Amsterdam. I hear a mix of modern-day, electronic sounds, coupled with more classical 1970s and 80s rock standards. Ultimately, and most importantly, though, the sound is their own, creating a unique combination of the old and the new.

The first song, Panorama, off their eponymous new album, is a great introduction to their work. Singer Michael Sempert uses his funky and folkish voice to bring the listeners up to speed in his world. When I said before that the band seems to seamlessly merge classical tunes from the 70s and 80s with more dynamic, electronic tracks of the current era, this is precisely what I mean.  Give it a listen:

For me, some of the band’s other songs recall the Belgian electro-pop band Das Pop, which found success at the end of the 90s, and now finding somewhat of a resurgence in their sound. However, Das Pop tends to use more classical instruments, such as violins and cellos. What makes Birds & Batteries so compelling for me is that they have found a unique sounds which is both grounded in traditional rock, yet simultaneously looks relentlessly towards the future. A must-hear band at our SXSW 2011 showcase at the Palm Door on the 19th of March.

Check out their website: http://www.birdsandbatteries.com

FabrIQ, a festival of Intrusive Quality

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This weekend, the second edition of FabrIQ Festival resides at the top of our events calendar. Taking place in the city of Den Bosch, it’s the younger sister of the incredibly successful Le Guess Who? festival in Utrecht. But whereas the last edition of Le Guess Who? -this past november- contained some big headliners (Beach House, Caribou, The Tallest Man On Earth) to compliment their pick of underground talent, FabrIQ relies solely upon the acquired taste of it’s audience.

This year’s line-up includes Cleveland-based garage-pop youngsters Cloud Nothings, indie-psych-rockers Suuns, Dutch indie-folk pride The Black Atlantic and Portland’s experimental popduo Tu Fawning. These are the acts Festival FabrIQ considers to be of an Intrusive Quality. Ivo Cooymans, music director of the festival and local pop venue W2, comments: “Last year, the balance shifted a little more towards a quiet, folk/americana festival. Both Bas (Flesseman, founder of Belmont Bookings and the other half of the artistic team) and I think we came closer to what we had in mind with this year’s line-up. Cloud Nothings and Suuns for instance offer a nice bit of variety to the festival.”

Fabriq Festival is a close collaboration between W2 and Belmont Bookings, a booking agency that doubles as one of the finest festival-planners in the Netherlands.“They’re very important to the festival,” Cooymans comments, “They’re very close to the scene, picking up on new artists at an early stage. But they don’t mess around: What’s great about their philosophy is that they always make sure the planning is right. Rather than trying to sell everything at maximum profit, they try to get the right fit between the band and the stage”

The festival has been downsized slightly in comparison to last year, making it an even more intimate and up close experience. Especially the W2 and theater Verkadefabriek (resp. a former cigar- and cookiefactory) are considered amongst the city’s landmark buildings. Cooymans: “The venues really add to the atmosphere of the festival. This goes for both our regular programming and our secret little side-show, FabrIQsgeheim, which takes place on a hidden location somewhere in the city. Depending on our budget next year, we want to explore more locations that could add to the unique backdrop of the festival.”

Festival Fabriq offers great talent in an intimate setting, and does so with a down-to-earth approach. All for love of the game, or so it appears: “We invite acts we think deserve a place in the Dutch festival landscape,” Cooymans says, decisively, “You can’t fill a big festival with acts like these. We like quality over quantity.”

Festival Fabriq will be held at several locations in Den Bosch on February 26 & 27.

Line-up:
Sleep Party People, Cloud Nothings, Suuns, Nils Frahm, Lars Ludvig Lofgren, Benoit Pioulard, The Black Atlantic, Sea Of Bees, Jay Minor & The Saint Helana Dove, Tu Fawning, The Fair Ohs.

for more information, check out www.w2.nl or http://fabriqfestival.blogspot.com

Jasper van der Put (1987) is a member of BAMM’s music team. Working from Amsterdam, Jasper will share his thoughts on current developments in the music of North-Western Europe.

The Stone Foxes will Rock the clock at BAMM’s SXSW venues

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The Stone Foxes, a well-known rock band from San Francisco, will be one of BAMM’s showcase performers during SXSW 2011. The band makes a specific sound that can be seen as a mix between alternative rock and indie folk music. For an Amsterdammer like myself, this is what I would consider to be a typical Bay Area sound.

At last year’s SXSW 2010, the Stone Foxes where one of the many surprising live acts. Band members Aaron Mort, Avi Vinocour and brothers Shannon Koehler and Spence Koehler rocked the city with a terrific gig at The Belmont. One of the numbers was ‘Under the Gun’, a longer, more acoustic song that left the audience speechless. Take a look at their performance:

But songs such as ‘Under the Gun’ aren’t the only sounds that The Stone Foxes makes. The creativity of the band is almost all round. With their number ‘Stomp’ they have made a song that has a genuine all American sound. The clip does completely fit with the song. In the music video the band tours from landmark to landmark in the USA. Mount Rushmore, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, the Lincoln Memorial and even their beloved Golden Gate Bridge are visually ‘visited’ by the four enthusiast musicians. Check this clip out:

Are you visiting SXSW 2011 and do you want to see these Californians in action on stage? Come and visit The Beauty Bar and The Palm Door in Austin, Texas, and see them live: Friday, March 18, 2011 1:00 PM — BAMM.tv Official App Launch and Music Showcase, at the Palm Door, 4th and Sabine (downtown).

By Kemal Rijken

BAMMsterdam: Hurray for Dutch music videos!

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It appears that ‘the music video as artwork’ is reaching new heights in the Dutch music scene. Some of the very best music videos I’ve witnessed over the past year and a half are from Dutch artists. Even though budgets are small, especially compared to larger (music) nations, the added artistic value has been truly impressive. Let me run you through some fine examples of late.

Amsterdam-based indie pop quintet Moss – A BAMM.tv staff favorite – have released a music video for “Angry Young Man”, the third single of their second record Never Be Scared/Don’t Be A Hero. A gloomy, surrealist story about a smalltown guy dealing with a rather odd pregnancy – his own. Associations with gouvernor Arnold Schwarznegger’s ‘funny’ movie period put aside, the story really keeps you on your toes all through the three minutes and fourty-one seconds of Moss’ post-punk infected tune

Great specimen of love and care for the music video is expressed by young Dutch singer-songwriter/folkrocker Tim Knol. Knol’s videos showcase a very charming, animated approach; something which quickly became an associated trademark with Knol’s music. Knol worked with director/animotor Sverre Fredrikson for the video’s of his first single, “When I Am King” and “Sam”. The use of what appear to be animated paper drawings gave the video for “When I Am King” the visual style of a cartoon set in medieval times. On folkrocker “Sam”, a collaboration with cartoonist Jean-Marc van Tol. you can see the video come into being as two hands sketch away to make the narrative (about a rebel/social misfit wandering through life) come alive.

For the above goes that they’ve enjoyed reasonable mainstream success over the past year, which landed their videos on the playlist for TMF and MTV, the country’s leading music television broadcasters. But even in the more obscure regions of Dutch Music, people are making some damn fine music video’s. Take Marlon Penn for instance. This alternative rocker took the same tender loving care  he put into the production of his remarkable debut album, Independence?, and went and made a smashing, in your face video for his single “Revolt! (Think Again)”. Despite having no noteworthy mainstream success, his video got nominated for a Dutch Video Music award. Quite the achievement. The song’s not bad, either!

Groningen-based chamber-pop outfit The Black Atlantic found the inspiration for the music video to their single Fragile Meadow, taken from their 2009 album Reverence For Fallen Trees, on THE platform for everything video-related: Youtube. Singer/composer Geert van der Velde found a video of a dancing girl doing some improvisations to the song. The video was traced back to Toronto, Canada. A fortunate turn of events (The band was invited to play the NXNE showcase festival) provided a window of opportunity for the band’s manager/labelboss/filmmaker Boudewijn Rosenmuller to meet up with Tessa (as the girl is called) and record a video during a very sunny afternoon in Toronto. The video’s beautiful simplicity appealed to many, including renowned Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, who selected the video as a 2010 favorite (on a world scale). This in turn caught the attention of Dutch daily primetime talkshow De Wereld Draait Door (DWDD), where they -at long last- were invited to play, almost 2 years after the release of their album.

It’s comforting to see that both established artists and underground talents are taking pride in the production of video content. Even without MTV exposure or the guarantee of reaching a large audience online, the music scene is willing to invest in video content that’s truly worth 4 minutes of a viewer’s precious time. It can only mean that the music video, long after the heyday of it’s original platform (television broadcasting), is still gaining weight as an artform. HURRAY! It still remains to be seen whether this movement will catch on to more commercial prospectors in the music industry – one can only hope.

by Jasper van der Put

Jasper van der Put (1987) is a member of BAMM’s music team. Working from Amsterdam, Jasper will share his thoughts on current developments in the music of North-Western Europe.

SXSW 2011: Introducing the trans-Atlantic BAMM Control Room

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Austin, meet Amsterdam. Amsterdam, meet Austin.

Following on from our posts last December about the illustrious, insane, inimitable SXSW 2011… Here we go!

Now, before we get to SXSW 2011, you may recall that we’ve blogged a bit about our activities in Europe before, most notably last autumn, when Phil, Jamie and Jeff braved the onset of darkness and rain to visit Northwestern Europe to launch our latest pilot series (November is rough…), or to participate in industry conferences, such as the MIDEM conference in Cannes, last month.

What you may not know is that, although we are very much based in the Bay Area — BAMM.TV studios are in SoMa, San Francisco — since our establishment, we always have had a footprint in London. I moved to London a number of years ago, after bouncing between Amsterdam and London extensively. Given the fact that music and digital distribution are global enterprises in this day and age, we want to be optimally placed to focus on the diverse scenes in some of the major European hubs for music production and performance.

As a result, we are pleased to announce that our subsidiary company, based in England, formally launches next month. This will allow us to respond more directly and immediately to the needs of those more closely attuned to Greenwich Mean Time, rather than those looking further westward, towards the dreamy sun and billowy fog of Northern California (realistically: eight long hours behind London).

CJ Davies, our London-based correspondent, both keeps us laughing and keeps us focused, with his unique insights on technology, music, television and how we live today. Now, if you’ve ever been to SXSW before, you can readily imagine it’s a bit of organized chaos. So we’re very pleased to announce our BAMM Control Room during SXSW.

“All hands on deck!”

After our first SXSW last year, we learned an important lesson — that although (or, because?!) Austin is a hell of a lot of fun, there is just so much going on that it’s impossible to get a birds-eye view of the scene, particularly as none of us are from Central Texas. So CJ will be serving an essential function, based on the fact that the world keeps spinning even when there’s an “all hands on deck” moment in Austin.

We’re holing him up for the week in our development studio in Amsterdam, and entrusting him to provide summaries of our live broadcasts, showcases and assorted shits-and-giggles from SXSW 2011. From 5000 miles away, a high-speed internet connection, a few webcams and everyone’s Skype addresses, we’ll be doing our bit towards keeping you in the know.

More information about our activities at SXSW 2011 is coming soon, so stay tuned. And you’ll also be able to hear more from CJ Davies when our new “byte-sized podcast” series, BAMM Insights, launches next month, in advance of SXSW.

If there’s anything in particular you’d like to see from us, rest assured we want to hear from you. Just have your say below, or email the team via: info@bamm.tv.

Best wishes
Nick Hansen
Co-Founder

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