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It’s that time of the year again. With a mere month until Lowlands 2009 kicks off, last Friday saw this year’s Lowtunes Release Party.  This edition is an exceedingly cool one if I do say so myself, due to a collaboration with my graphically talented friend MBR.

As always the editing process was tough and the cuts were cruel, but I’m very happy with the final result. There’s a bit of main stream and a bit of undercurrent, there’s smash hits and album tracks, there’s Dutch produce and foreign affairs, there should be something to please all Lowlands visitors.

I’ve put the tracks up for downloading HERE for all to enjoy, as well as the artwork. What follows here are the Lowtunes 2009 liner notes (the Dutch version of which features in the artwork). Feel free to spread the word, all comments are extremely welcome.

 

LINER NOTES LOWTUNES 2009

[artists in BOLD CAPITALS feature on the cd]
So, you’ve got your ticket, you’re officially a Lowlander. But what to do when you get hold of the 136 artist line-up and you wake up in a cold sweat from sheer choice overkill? Do not fear, the Lowtunes 2009 guide is here to drag you out of musical limbo with seven  “Lowlands for dummies” categories.

“Shake ya ass”

[dance/ electro/ techno/ dj’s/ glowsticks are so 2005 but still kinda fun]

 There is only one band to rightfully kick off this category in 2009: THE PRODIGY. It’s been 17 years since their smash hit Out of Space, but rumour has it these boys are still on fire. Not to be missed! Only the Dewaele brothers would come up with a funky mix of Dolly parton and Röyksopp, making  2manyDJ’s a compulsory visit. Basement Jaxx have earned their reputation as dancemasters supreme, with some big soulmoma vocals thrown in as an added bonus. Glowsticks out ladies and gents: the Klaxons are back in town. Afterwards it’s all hands up in the air for some up beat dance moves courtesy of TOMMY SPARKS and a mellow cool down with Whitest Boy Alive’s  nerdy disco.

Then there’s the class of 2009’s electro pop princesses, make sure to enjoy them this year cause who knows how long they’ll stick around: LITTLE BOOTS, LA ROUX and the Finnish female three-piece Le Corps Mince de Francoise, who have clearly been listening to CSS quite a bit. Turning the corner to the land of sexy beats, Belgium’s raunchy Stijn deserves a mention. If you’re in for a new experience, the Basque beats produces by duo Chrystal Fighters might be for you, try the funky freakbeats by The Gaslamp Killer, or permanently damage your eardrums during a Noisia set.

“Melting Pot”

[fusion/ everybody to the dance floor/ pikkepoelie/ take every random instrument from the attic and form a band/ grab your neighbour and do a little circle dance]

Now it’s time to get your ethnic groove on. Do your buttocks prefer to be shaken up Colombian style? Head over to Bomba Estéreo. If you’ve always dreamt of a lead role in Anatevka you should make your way to the Amsterdam Klezmer Band. For those who are more French inclined, get folky with Babylon Circus and the festive gypsy tunes of La Caravanne Passe. One you’re done dancing up a frenzy, you can recover to the beautifully melancholy Amelie-music of BEIRUT and DeVotchKa, the latter was responsible for the critically acclaimed Little Miss Sunshine soundtrack. If you prefer to let your mind wander the dusty desert landscapes of Arizona, CALEXICO is just what the doctor ordered. But my personal melting pot favourite is London based FANFARLO

 “Yo Moma”

[hiphop/ grime/ street/ soul/ R&B/ yo yo diggity wassup fo shizzle/ what do you mean “did you forget your belt??”]

The head pimp himself is attending Blowlands this year: Snoop Dogg! Let’s just hope he leaves hit travelling porn show at home and doesn’t get too spaced out to play. There are some quality home-grown hiphop acts on the bill, such as 2009’s wonderboy KYTEMAN and his extensive posse, Fakkelbrigade, and Dio who’s bringing The Madd to back him up with some guitars. DIZZEE RASCAL and Lady Sovereign are going to attempt to educate Lowlands in the delicate art of grime. Laugh at Vanilla Ice all you want, there’s no denying he paved the way for many a white boy with rhyming ambitions. New kid on the block is Asher Rith, preppy frat boy come rapper, a surprisingly good combination. If it’s some soothing soul and reggae sounds you’re after to zone out in the grass for a while, look no further than Selah Sue and The Aggrolites.

“Rock the Casbah”

[pop/ rock/ ’n roll/ britpop/ The [Insert random name]s/ blues/ what’s wrong with some MF guitar, bass and drums anyway?]

After many years of mostly embarrassing attempts at the concept of The Rock Band, Holland finally boasts two decent stand up specimens: DE STAAT and Moke. Check them out. For straight up sex & drugs & rock & roll you need to visit the king of the porn tache: Eagles of Death Metal. These days we even have a Dutch version called Drive Like Maria. Old school legends Faith No More should satisfy any metal nostalgia, but if bluesy Americana is more your cup of tea, Wilco is your man. Further out into redneck country you’ll come across Hank Williams III and ASSJACK (who cites ‘coon huntin’ as one of his pastimes on myspace, gotta love that).

A smidgeon more sophistication is brought to us by the delegation from across the North Sea. The cheekiest boys in town are back: Arctic Monkeys will no doubt thrill us with some new material. The gents from Bloc Party will whip up a batch of nervy punk pop, and more tight tunes with a groovy edge will be brought to you by Kasabian. MAXÏMO PARK and Razorlight are reliable suppliers of quality pop, but if it’s jump-around-sing-along entertainment you’re after, Kaiser Chiefs will probably get your vote. You’ll probably have to squeeze yourself into the Alpha tent to catch post-punk’s latest darlings White Lies, but be sure not to miss THE MACCABEES regardless which tent they play.

Then there’s some cross Atlantic import, like The Virgins who do a damn good job of sounding rather like genre buddies Razorlight and The Kooks. If you pine for the days of rockabilly, milkshakes and petticoats then you’re in luck, Kitty, Daisy and Lewis are brought to you straight from the fifties it seems. SPINNERETTE’s punky LA-style is altogether more gritty, and they have a sassy inked up songstress to match.
 

“Heartstrings”

[singer-songwriter/ pop/ shoegazing/ depths of the soul/ I’ve been wearing this flannel shirt since 1991]

 In the left corner we stumble upon a happy go lucky club of singing songwriting lads the likes of JACK PEÑATE, with his penchant for African rhythms. Teen mag favourite Paolo Nutini is marching his new shoes on over and he is joined by locals Bertolf and Miss Montreal.

In the right hand corner we find introspection, the bare soul, vulnerability. It doesn’t get much more straight from the gut than BON IVER, who turned his despair into music in a remote Wisconsin log cabin. More low fi comes from The Tallest Man On Earth, you might say a Swedish Bob Dylan. Brokenbranches husband to be Patrick Watson and his band will hopefully be recruiting a string section to do their glorious new album justice. Patrick Watson can rely on his flamboyant and sexually ambiguous stage persona to grab the crowd interest and then win them over with his music.

Representing the ladies and very high up on the brokenbranches wish list is FLORENCE + THE MACHINE, this redhead vamp slash fairy is a sight to behold, but more importantly an amazing singer and composer. Another foxy vixen, though more of an alt-country kinda gal, is the wonderful Jenny Lewis, also known for singing in Rilo Kiley. Those whose demeanour is heavy with the pangs of heartbreak will find a shoulder to cry on with Nina Kinert and Jessica Lea Mayfield. If it’s witty lyrics that push your buttons Lily Allen is your next stop, and maybe try Roosbeef along the way to work on your Dutch.
 

“Freaks & Geeks”

[indie/ weird & wonderful/ undergound/ an acquired taste/ I listen to bands that don’t even exist yet]

Considering the title starts with “Freaks” it is clear we must start with the queen of these conflicted people, her majesty of bizarre, Grace Jones. Also far from plane jane is Karin Dreijer Andersson, better known as FEVER RAY. Go check out her dark electrobeats, if only to see the face behind this illusive persona.

Indie, it’s a term that will probably never receive a satisfactory definition. However, what is defined is this year’s splendid indie line-up: GRIZZLY BEAR with their tranquil gems of songs, Broken Social Scene spinoff Metric’s new wave, Micachu & The Shapes with their slightly mad experimental electro tunes, PASSION PIT’s MGMT style psychedelics and last but most definitely not least: the graceland sound of prodigal sons VAMPIRE WEEKEND. They should have been at Lowlands 2008, but we won’t complain.

For pomp and circumstance romance that snuggles up nicely to Arcade Fire, it’s off to The Airborne Toxic Event, the band that simultaneously gets awarded “weirdest band name 2009”. Finally, Australia has waken up to the indie alarm and are sending us the wonderful band The Temper Trap, make sure to catch them if you’re a drums kind of person.

“Blow Your Mind””

Fed up compartmentalising? Ready to redefine your boundaries and go for a bit of out of the ordinary? Here are some recommendations you’re unlikely to hear at your cousin’s wedding.

Huoratron: heartracingly fast and furious Finnish beats

Kees van Hondt: if you’ve heard the stories about walking plant pots and flying tables and are wondering what the fuss is about

Opeth & Sonata Arctica: gruntrock extraordinaire with a snippet of synth and prog, challenge someone to a lyric interpretation battle, unintelligible stuff

Peaches: electroclash diva and self proclaimed “dirty bitch”, keep track of the ‘pussy’ word count for fun

Rolo Tomassi: representatives of the not-suitable-for-Sunday-tea genre of ‘mathcore’, with female (!) vocals

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