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14-07-2012: sch 2 Years of Plug in, Baby!

Today, 2 years have passed since Plug in, Baby! first started. In those 2 years, I've written almost 700 blogs, numbers of visitors have doubled and tripled, but most importantly, great music was found and shared.

For this blog I surf the web, trying to find great music to share. Sometimes, the music finds me, but I mostly go surfing for it. A great way of spending time, and I cherish every little pearl of music that I find and eventually can share with you. Without Plug in, Baby! I probably would never have found great bands like Conveyor, The Deloreans, Dry The River, The Rest and many more. Without this blog I would've never fallen in love with the beautiful music of Hip Hatchet, Pickering Pick, Rebecca Brandt, Bridie Jackson and (again) many, many more.

So for me, this blog is a success. It's my own little piece of the world wide web, where I can share my love for music in my own way, hoping to help you (the readers) discover great new music and on the other side, helping those great, yet unknown, bands get a little more attention. If I have ever helped 1 person fall in love with 1 band through this blog, I consider my job well done (not counting myself in this theory, though I've fallen in love several times in the 2 years that have passed).

I would like to thank everyone who visits Plug in, Baby! for taking the time to read my little declarations of love, and hopefully you enjoy most of the music as much as I do. The future is bright, with amazing things ahead of us. There's a few fine dance tracks lined up for tonight, tomorrow will be all about Conveyor's debut album (which is my new favourite record of the year, sorry Bridie..), there's 2 more interviews in the works and I have some amazing tunes on my laptop impatiently waiting for their moment of glory. Sit back, have a drink, enjoy your weekend;
Plug in, Baby!

I tried to find a great party-track to this little story, I hope you forgive me for using this previously posted track. It still kills! #letsdance

12-07-2012: interviews Interview with: Rebecca Brandt

Just about 2 months ago there was an item about Numbers & Shapes, the debut album by New York composer Rebecca Brandt. There was nothing really special about this, I fall in love with music all the time. Now that another 2 months have passed, it is safe to say, there is something special about this album, because I still can not get enough of it! It is still one of my favourite Sunday morning records and I fall asleep to her mesmerizing piano works at least twice a week. As of this week, she has serious competition, but for now this album is the instrumental highlight of the year. And Rebecca Brandt, turned out to be a very sweet lady, sending me an impressive thank you-mail, within 24 hours after I wrote my little lovestory. We've done an email-interview over the weekend, so we can get to know the lady responsible for Numbers & Shapes a little better.

Rebecca Brandt, talented composer from New York. What else is there to know about you? Married, kids, pets?
I've always been in love with music. Started playing piano at age 4, violin at age 8, and had my first private composition lesson at age 10. I studied music composition and film scoring at NYU, and now I live in Brooklyn, New York. Aside from my solo project, I also write music for films and teach piano lessons. Not married and no kids, but I do have a fish named Gandhi.

You have released Numbers & Shapes a little over 2 months ago now. How did the release of a solo-album make you feel?
It was a very exciting and emotional experience for me releasing my first solo album. It was also exhausting! I put 2 years into this project and it was a ton of work, definitely challenging. But I also had a great time with it, had a lot of fun, and it was absolutely worth every second.

How does the process of writing a song work for you?
I don't really have one particular writing process, but I guess a song falls into one of two categories - it's either been meticulously thought-out, or it kind of just comes together. Often I will shape a song around a concept of music theory I want to try out, or create an obstacle and try to work around it (for example, write a song in 3/4, with 3 sections, with 3 instruments). I also like to play around with layering and fun instrumentations, and will sometimes pick a strange combination of instruments and try to make them work together. As for "it kind of just comes together" - sometimes a melody will pop into my head at an inopportune moment, like riding the subway or taking a shower, and I really didn't put much thought into it.

Once a song is finished, what’s next?
When I write film scores, all the music is done on the computer with MIDI instruments, so there's not much to do once the piece is actually completed. With "Numbers & Shapes" though, after I composed each song, I also did the orchestrations and notated each part so the pieces could eventually be played live. There were over 30 instruments spread across the 14 tracks, so this took a while! Because the ensemble is so large, my producer Marc Plotkin and I created a mobile recording set-up, so we could travel to different studios and locations to record each musician separately. This allowed us to get the best possible sound for the instrument we were recording.

Do you expect to play the music live? Go on tour with it?
Yes, we're in the process of working out a live show in New York. I would love to tour with the ensemble, so we'll see what happens!

What kind of music do you listen to yourself at the moment?
My musical taste is kind of all over the place. There's just so much great music out there, so why limit yourself. Lately I've been listening a lot to Yann Tiersen and El Ten Eleven. I love film composers Mark Mothersbaugh and Philip Glass, electronic music from Massive Attack, Bonobo, Lemon Jelly, Emancipator, and The Books, and classical composers Maurice Ravel and Beethoven. I'm also always listening to Radiohead, Sigur Ros, and The Bad Plus.

What does a regular day look like for Rebecca Brandt?
I do a billion things in any given day, so nothing ever feels regular! I work for a tech start-up, teach piano lessons, write film music and work on personal projects every day, and I make my own hours for each of these jobs. Every day is different, so while I'm definitely kept on my toes, I've also learned to be very, very organized with my schedule! iCal is my best friend.

What are you working on at the moment? Any future plans?
I'm writing two film scores at the moment, and working on organizing the "Numbers & Shapes" release show.

When will you consider 2012 to be a successful year?
I've already considered 2012 a success! Releasing "Numbers & Shapes" was a huge accomplishment for me, and something I am very proud of. Everything else this year has to offer is icing on the cake!

Thank you so much for your time and answers, Rebecca Brandt. When doing live-shows, please make me some videos, because I doubt you'll be visiting the Netherlands somewhere soon (although you're more than welcome..). For anyone interested, you can buy the digital album for a "pay-what-you-want" price or get it on CD via bandcamp.

11-07-2012: Track Fiona Apple - Every Single Night

There's a new record and it's pretty great. There's this single and video and they're pretty great. The song more than the video, but we'll just look the other way, right? Fiona Apple has released a great record. Nothing more, surely nothing less.

10-07-2012: Album These Hands - Endlessly

A little over 4 weeks now have I been listening to Endlessly by These Hands and it's been a trip unlike any other. Not a song clocks under 5 minutes, making this 8-track debut album last about 54 minutes, including a 40-second intro. After that intro, These Hands present a unique mix of indie progrock with a subtle touch of hardcore. Does it work? Like hell it does!

"Soaring Sky" is not only a perfect title for this song, it's also a perfect blueprint of what this band is capable of. We take off gently into the sky towards the sunset, come across some turbulence, but always do we find a beautiful stewardess next to our seat to calm the nerves when it's gets too rocky. She pours me a glass of Whiskey, touches my arm sofly to calm me down and tells me we've got a very experienced pilot who will undoubtfully get us down safely. The only question she askes me is if I really want to land and leave this intense flight. I'd most probably say no.

This is without a doubt one of the finest instrumental releases of the year. Endlessly holds your attention from start to finish, builts up the tension, blows you away and always helps you get up. It's a warm bath of incredible musical skills brought together in nothing less than a beautiful debut album. They successfully avoid the risk of writing identical songs, giving each song it's own feel, without forcing themselves to sound unlike themselves. Even when visiting the North Sea Jazz festival this weekend (and with that listening to nothing but amazing Jazz-tunes for 3 days straight), I couldn't fight the urge to wake up to this record in the morning. Incredible album!

05-07-2012: North Sea Jazz 2012 Preview: Sunday

Day 3 of the amazing North Sea Jazz Festival. After over 20 tips for the Friday and Saturday earlier, here's my personal highlights for Sunday based on a massive google/youtube-search I've spend most of my evening on. Enjoy!

15.30 Hudson: Joshua Redman with The Bad Plus

16.00 Nile: Miles Smiles featuring Joey DeFrancesco, Robben Ford, Omar Hakim, Darryl Jones, Rick Margitza, and Wallace Roney
listen here

18.00 Darling: Marius Neset Golden Xplosion

19.30 Congo: Fatoumata Diawara

19.45 Volga: Oneohtrix Point Never

20.15 Nile: D'Angelo

21.30 Volga: Dimlite

22.00 Yenisei: Estafest

22.45 Mississippi: Bernhoft

And then it's over.. it'll be another 360something days before we'll meet again there. I'm already looking forward to it!

03-07-2012: North Sea Jazz 2012 Preview: Saturday

Day 2 of the amazing North Sea Jazz Festival. After 10 tips for the Friday last week, here's my personal highlights for Saturday based on a massive google/youtube-search I've spend most of my day on today. Enjoy!

17.15 Yenisei: Toon Roos Group featuring Peter Erskine

17.30 Darling: Yuri Honing Wired Paradise

18.45 Hudson: James Farm featuring Joshua Redman

18.45 Madeira: Miles Okazaki Quartet

18.45 Volga: Craig Taborn

Yes, that's 3 concerts starting at the same time, but after listening to all 3 acts it's hard to figure out which is best. My personal favourite is Craig Taborn, but the 3 styles are so different, that I figured to put em all in and let you decide..

19.30 Darling: Rudder

20.30 Volga: Kapok

(music starts after 7 minutes)

21.15 Congo: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey The Race Riot Suite

22.15 Hudson: Ramón Valle trio & Jesse van Ruller 'Flashes from Holland'

23.15 Mississippi: Bruut!

23.30 Darling: Christian Scott

23.45 Madeira: Vijay Iyer Trio

And there you have: 12 tips from me to you. Enjoy the music. See you Saturday!

03-07-2012: Track AWOLNATION - SAIL

Perfect soundtrack to the nightmares I had last night, while barely sleeping I was constantly banging my head to this fucking great track! Hear more from their album Megalithic Symphony at Rest of the album is pretty cool aswell, but "SAIL" kicks serious ass!

03-07-2012: sch Rock Werchter 2012

After being in Belgium for 4 days to hear a lot of great music at Rock Werchter, I wanted to write a little something on how good some shows where and what bands completely failed. But due to lack of sleep (although it's 2.30 in the morning now and I can't seem to fall asleep) there's no real words coming out. Earlier tonight I had a Twitter-session on the subject and figured, why not put the whole thing on here for everyone to read.
So here's 32 things I’ve learned at Rock Werchter 2012:

1. Getting to Belgium is the easy thing, getting to Werchter doable, getting to that parking area a fucking challenge.
2. I hate camping
3. I hate putting up a tent with Within Temptation playing in the background
4. I HATE camping
5. I love Rock Werchter. Well, at least the 2012-edition of it, let’s not jump to conclusions just yet..
6. Rock Werchter actually lasts 4 days. i did not know that untill the day it started.. what preparation?
7. Thursday was definitely party night. Cypress Hill killed it. Skream brought it back to life, Skrillex killed it again and Justice had sex with its dead body. Does that make any sense? Justice RULESS!!
8. There’s still hope for me. I danced with a pretty girl to The Kooks' “She moves in her own way”. Loved the show, the girl was ok.
9. Garbage is still just that.
10. Dancing with a woman twice my age to The Cure makes me feel very young
11. Miles Kane has to be the hardest working Brit to play music. Ever.
12. The only act almost as bad as Pearl Jam is Jack White. Or Pearl Jam
13. Lana Del Rey can sing! Nailed every note with style and class seldom displayed. I think I love her. Lana, will you marry me?
14. I can actually fall in love with 4 women at the same time. But they’ll have to be in a band called Katzenjammer
15. Azari & III reminds me of Grace Jones on steroids. I love it.
16. Jumping/dancing to Deadmau5 is a great way of getting ready for bed. Or going deaf. Or both.
17. There is a heaven on earth. And it’s called a James Vincent McMorrow concert. I’m still searching 4 words 2 describe the intense beauty
18. Michael Kiwanuka is best enjoyed alone. OR with a pretty girl, I’ll try that next week @ North Sea Jazz
19. The Alabama Shakes are able of disappointing the shit out of me. i did not see that coming..
20. Wolfmother are live at least as good as on record. Or was that a record?
21. Mumford & Sons’ new album is due in September. Or was that another band..? at least they played as good as they should have!
22. I can smoke up to 25 cigarettes a day given the right circumstances. i doubt if that is a good thing.
23. Regina Spektor is all that she’s cracked up to be. And more. A lot more. Still not as great as James Vincent McMorrow though. Who was also very funny. (No I don’t have a crush on James Vincent McMorrow. Although we are on first-name bases in my mind.) I just call him James.
24. I enjoy singing along to Incubus knowing that no one can hear me, cuz they're rockin' the shit out of that tent.
25. Everyone in Other Lives plays at least 3 instruments. Except the drummer. He drums. That’s a lot of instruments in one.
26. size does not matter. neither does timing. Other Lives was the 1st and (surprisingly, I might add) by far best show on Sunday.
27. Noel Gallagher is, in fact, the worst singer the UK has ever produced. The Spice Girls would've done better out there.
28. Days get mixed up with a routine that consists of a little sleep, loads of alcohol and huge amounts of great music. I love it.
29. M. Ward invented arrogance. And not too much to show for it.
30. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are capable of sending chills down my spine. Just like Milow
31. Die Antwoord is without a doubt 50% genius, 50% completely fucked up and 40% hot. Russians will get it.
32. I rarely combined something I intensely hate (camping) with something I intensely love (music). but it worked. I loved being at Rock Werchter 2012.

28-06-2012: North Sea Jazz 2012 Preview: Friday

Next Friday the biggest indoor jazz festival of the world is back in town. They might just have already started with building up some stages or something, or maybe they haven’t. For me, these next 10 days are about Rock Werchter starting today and North Sea Jazz next weekend. Traditionally I start preparing ahead of the festival by going through the entire schedule, listening to just about every artist that is playing and making a little compilation of the things that sound very interesting to me. Some sort of personal advice from me to anyone visiting the festival, whatever your musical taste is. Looking back at previous editions of this, I’ve just realized this is the 5th time I’m writing this. Go me!

Based on the schedule as found on the NSJ-website here’s how I just might spend my Friday on the festival. I try to stay away from the pop artists and big jazz names, I prefer to be surprised (except for the closing concert by Lenny, off course).

17.00 Hudson: Flat Earth Society ft. Ernst Reijseger - a Belgium jazzcombo that always surprises

17.30 Darling: Dafnis Prieto Proverb Trio - an unusual combination that works extremely well

17.45 Yenisei: Dhafer Youssef Quartet featuring Husnu Senlendirici & Aytac Dogan – if it’s anything like the video, it’ll be great!

19.15 Congo: Sam Yahel Trio

20.00 Maas: Michael Kiwanuka - one of the finest singer-songwriters of the past 12 months

20.15 Madeira: Uri Caine Trio

21.15 Congo: James Carter Organ Trio - great relaxed oldschool Jazz

21.45 Maas: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue - always a party with Trombone Shorty

23.30 Mississippi: Blitz the Ambassador - top notch hiphop from a unknown rapper

0.30 Maas: Lenny Kravitz - perfect ending to a perfect day of great music

I'll be off to Rock Werchter (Belgium) in 30 minutes, so the Saturday & Sunday previews will be posted next week. Have a great weekend, enjoy the tunes!

27-06-2012: Album Holmes - Burning Bridges

Swedish folk was never as pretty as this. Tender, sweet music from 6 Swedish musicians that create little masterpieces together. It was instant love when I heard this the 1st time and it gets more intense everytime I listen to the record. This is Holmes.

"Vinter" is a perfectly fragile song. It was made for the Winter, I just have to close my eyes and I can easily picture myself walking in the park on a cold Sunday morning, through the snow, with no one around. Just me and my mp3-player. A tiny slice of heaven on earth, if you know what I mean.

For some reason the last track of an album is usually something special. The final moment to win the listener over, the last chance to make him or her fall in love with your music. Bands and artists seem to feel this way and go all out once more. Holmes does exactly that on their 8-minute closing song. It starts beautiful and soft, gets nice and friendly instrumental with you and builts up to an eruption that'll leave you breathless. I'm in love!

25-06-2012: Album Atherton - No Threat

Finally a great hiphop-album this year, I was on my way to becoming a little worried. Last year the phenomenal Jalin Roze released an album I still enjoy at least once a week. In 2012 I've heard some nice things (The Wurxs), but nothing yet that I can listen over and over again. Untill now!

No Threat by Atherton is a fresh album. The beats are easy on the ears, the lyrics are good, even brilliant at times. With lines in there I wish I'd written. The kind of songlines that really makes you wonder how the hell he came up with that. It's almost crazy, but it comes out brilliant.

The diversity on this album is amazing. Some tracks are dark, others are light and easy. Which is something that is not easy to produce and usually works very well. Especially on a hiphop-album. For some reason hiphop-albums have a bigger risk of getting monotonous.

With these 4 tracks you can clearly hear how creative this album is. The beats take a little of a lot of different styles and each style mixes great with the other. Final track "Paul Simon Songs" is my favourite, and a great example of the fun this album holds. Atherton clearly enjoyed writing this, and I sure as hell enjoy hearing it. On a daily bases for a few weeks now.

Ten fine tracks on a great 3rd album by this talented rapper. Go listen to the other 6 tracks on his bandcamp and get yourself a copy for only 5 Dollars. Worth every penny!

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