New Song of the Week -“Hands” by Morgendust

Since forming only two years ago, Dutch indie alt-rock band Morgendust  have made quite an impression both at home and abroad with their superb music. The Zwolle, Netherlands-based quintet is comprised of Marco de Haan (lead vocals, guitars), Ron van Kruistum (guitars, backing vocals), Iwan Blokzijl (keyboards, backing vocals), Dario Pozderski (bass, backing vocals) and Job Noordmans (drums & percussion). All are talented and accomplished musicians with years of collective experience playing in other bands and as session musicians, imparting their music with a maturity and worldliness that comes from having lived on this earth for a while and experiencing the joys and pains of life, love and relationships. Through intelligent, thoughtful lyrics, they tell stories that everyone can relate to, and package them with exquisite dark-edged rock melodies and beautiful instrumentation.

In September 2019 they released their outstanding debut EP Storm Will Come, then followed up this past May with a powerful and timely single “Alien”, inspired by the story of band member Pozderski, who as a young man fled his war-torn homeland of Bosnia. (You can read my reviews of the EP and single by clicking on the links under “Related” at the end of this post.) In July, they released another great single “Sundays”, and now return with their latest offering, an inspiring and lovely new single “Hands“, which I’ve chosen as my New Song of the Week.

The song is a tribute to all the craftsmen and women around the world who take care of us. About the song, Morgendust explains: “Making, building and creative hands. At work and at home. Helping, stroking and saving hands. By caring and loving in families and relationships. Hands can make what our eyes can see. Hands can make or break our relationships. We tell a story with our hands. Hands are valuable tools. For the makers who help shape and keep our society running and for all of us to support each other. Or the encouraging handshake as soon as the rules allow it again. Making, building, creating and connecting hands.

As a band we pay tribute to these crucial limbs by celebrating craftsmen from our hometown Zwolle. The stories of a chef, farmer, furniture maker, artist, motorcycle mechanic, baker and tattoo artist all come together in the new video clip shot by (Dutch 3FM / Radio 2) photographer and filmmaker Bullet Ray (Raymond van Olphen). The release of ‘Hands’ is accompanied by a fan contest, in which the fans participated by singing the chorus “build it with your hands” and doing something with their hands.”

“Hands” is an uplifting, celebratory song that just makes you feel good. It’s an affirmation that the world and the people in it are basically good and that everything is gonna be okay. To convey the sentiments expressed in the hopeful lyrics, Morgendust starts with an upbeat melody, then layers a mix of sunny guitars, humming bass, swirling synths and lively percussion to create a joyous backdrop for Marco’s warm, earnest vocals.

Follow Morgendust:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music / YouTube
Purchase:  Google Play / Amazon

MORGENDUST – Single Review: “Alien”

Morgendust Alien

Morgendust are a talented and well-seasoned alt-rock band based in Zwolle, Netherlands. Formed in 2018, all are accomplished musicians with years of collective experience playing in other bands and as session musicians. Influenced by 80s acts like Talk Talk, Duran Duran, Pink Floyd, Tears for Fears and Peter Gabriel, as well as more current acts like Radiohead, Editors and Elbow, their music has a maturity and worldliness that comes from having lived on this earth for a while and experiencing the joys and pains of life, love and relationships. Through intelligent, thoughtful lyrics, they tell stories that everyone can relate to, and package them with exquisite dark-edged rock melodies and beautiful instrumentation.

The band consists of Marco de Haan (lead vocals, guitars), Ron van Kruistum (guitars, backing vocals), Iwan Blokzijl (keyboards, backing vocals), Dario Pozderski (bass, backing vocals) and Job Noordmans (drums & percussion). Last September (2019) they released their outstanding debut EP Storm Will Come (you can read my review here). Now they’re back with a powerful and timely new single “Alien“, which dropped today, May 1st. Inspired by the story of band member Dario Pozderski, who 25 years ago fled his war-torn homeland of Bosnia, the song is both a celebration of freedom and a denunciation of mankind’s stupidity, greed, and penchant for destructive wars that result in a never-ending cycle of refugee crises.

The band explains: “This year we celebrate 75 years living in freedom [The Netherlands was liberated from Nazi control at the end of World War II in 1945]. A perfect moment for Morgendust to release their new single Alien, a song about the long, hard road refugees still have to take to find a new but uncertain future. To live in freedom is something to care about and not to take for granted, something Dario can relate to. He arrives in Holland in 1995, because his identity suddenly matters, a lot! He tries to escape ‘the lunatics” as he calls them, but they grow in numbers and he has to run, because he refuses to fight his own people. With only a bass in two parts in a rucksack he reaches Holland and finds a place in an AZC, a shelter for refugees of war.

Morgendust Dario
Dario in 1995 and 2020

Dario elaborates: “Here I sit in an AZC with nothing to do, which I cannot stand! Around that time I visit the city library often to listen to music. I notice a note on the wall which says: “Band PTS needs bass player” (PTS was a 90s neo-progressive rock band that included Morgendust members Marco de Haan and Ron van Kruistum). “I audition and I’m in…. Now, 25 years later, with two of the former PTS members I still make music in Morgendust.”

“Aliens” was written by Marco de Haan and Iwan Blokzijl, who also mixed and mastered the track, and designed the artwork for the single. The track has an anthemic quality, with a grandiose melody and dramatic instrumentals befitting the expansive scope of the subject matter. The guys are all skilled musicians, and together they’ve created an exceptional song that’s truly stunning. The layered guitar work is fantastic, and I love the intricate, sweeping synths and piano keys that give the song such haunting beauty. Dario and Job keep the track grounded with their perfect rhythms, and Marco’s emotionally-charged vocals bring chills as he drives home the urgency and seriousness expressed in the powerful lyrics. The band has included a snippet from Jesse Jackson’s speech announcing the suspension of his 1988 run for the U.S. presidency.

All the things I had in life
Now I see that they are
Gone away for good
Everything I once controlled
When I find out that it’s
Gone away for good

Came here
By plastic
As tame sheep
The questions
And the screaming
The waiting in line

Alien
Nations apart
Maybe we’re
Back to the start
Back to the start

Just the scent of neighborhood
Brings a tear to me it’s
Gone away for good
All the colors in the sky
Are just pictures in my mind

Saw how
The money
Can blind you
Seduce you
Betray you
And makes you insane

Alien
Nations apart
Maybe we’re
Back to the start 

Jesse Jackson’s speech:

If in my high moments, I have done some good, offered some service,
shed some light, healed some wounds, rekindled some hope, or stirred someone from apathy and indifference, or in any way along the way helped somebody, then this campaign has not been in vain.

Connect with Morgendust:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple MusicYouTube
Purchase:  Google PlayAmazon

New Song of the Week – MARVIN DEE BAND: “Sweetlake City”

Until recently, I wasn’t aware that The Netherlands had such a thriving music scene. Last month, I featured Dutch indie rock band Morgendust on this blog, and am now pleased to introduce the Marvin Dee Band. With their pleasing folk rock sound, influenced by such acts as Dave Matthews Band, Peter Gabriel, Gavin DeGraw, Sting and John Mayer, they honestly sound like they could be from Nashville or Austin, rather than Rotterdam. Although it was released a few weeks ago, I’ve chosen their latest single “Sweetlake City” as my New Song of the Week.

The Marvin Dee Band has been through many changes since forming earlier in the decade. These changes were the inspiration for their new album, simply and appropriately titled Changes. This wrenching period of unrest continued for more than two years, during which the band parted ways with three band members while in the middle of recording the new album. The lineup now consists of front man and songwriter Marvin Dee (guitar & lead vocals), Quintijn Kuypers (bass, backing vocals), Cas Ronckers (keyboards, backing vocals), Karsten Klemm (electric guitar, backing vocals) and Jonas Nieuwenbroek (drums).

Marvin Dee Band 2

The album was written and produced by Marvin Dee, and released on October 6th only in physical form on CD and Vinyl. It will be released on all streaming services soon. In addition to their new lineup, the band went all out for the recording of the album.  Wanting a fuller, more sophisticated sound, they recruited Ben Rodenburg for horn arrangements, Myrthe van de Weetering for strings arrangements, and Age Kat for additional electric guitar. I’ve listened to Changes, and it’s a beauty. Each of the 11 outstanding tracks reveal a little bit of the band’s story, reflecting the turbulent times the band went through these past two years, and emerging stronger then ever before.

The fourth single from Changes, “Sweetlake City” speaks to chasing dreams while also being thankful for what you already have. The band explains the inspiration behind the track: “A few years ago, Marvin traveled to America for a short solo tour. There, he met with Susan Rogers, former engineer/producer for Prince and the Barenaked Ladies. Susan told him about the ‘slingshot’: that part of your life that feels like it’s holding you back, but what eventually will prove to be the driving force and motivation to make music, launching you forward to where you want to be. For Marvin, that slingshot is his ‘Sweetlake City’ of Zoetermeer – the place where he works five days a week to provide himself with a steady income, in the hopes of one day making a living from music.”

The song has a rousing Americana vibe, thanks to a stellar blend of rhythm, electric and Country-style guitars, accompanied by a vibrant mix of lively piano keys, exuberant horns and smashing drums. The instrumentals are all fantastic, each one of them standing out, yet perfectly balanced to create an exhilarating backdrop for Marvin’s commanding, heartfelt vocals. It’s a wonderful song.

You spend all day doing work that doesn’t pay enough
And you don’t even like enough
You want to get away from this Sweetlake City
We’re all drunk in the morning on dreams that you don’t even dare to tell
But in the light every evening it seems like they’re right there
We’re all hooked up on plans made by someone we hardly know at all
But it’s hard to get up in the morning when life drags you down

Show me how, well tell me now
Sing out loud, want to live a little more
You want to live a little more

Connect with Marvin Dee Band:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music / Deezer
Purchase:  iTunes / Google Play

MORGENDUST – EP Review: “Storm Will Come”

Morgendust

So music for old people? No fucking way!” So say Dutch indie rock band Morgendust, who with an average age of 46 are “the perfect age to start a band. Musically skilled, no more stagefright and enough experience in life to tell a story.” Formed just a year ago and based in Zwolle, Netherlands, Morgendust consists of Marco de Haan (lead vocals, guitars), Ron van Kruistum (guitars, backing vocals), Iwan Blokzijl (keyboards, backing vocals), Dario Pozderski (bass, backing vocals) and Job Noordmans (drums & percussion). Their sound is influenced by 80s acts they grew up with like Talk Talk, Duran Duran, Pink Floyd, Tears for Fears and Peter Gabriel, as well as more current acts like Radiohead, Editors and Elbow.

All are seasoned musicians, having previously played in bands like Soulstar, City Jam & Band of Glory, and professionally as hired guns in the commercial music industry. Their music has a maturity and worldliness that comes from having lived on this earth for a while and experiencing the joys and pains of life, love and relationships. Through their intelligent, thoughtful lyrics, they tell stories that everyone can relate to, whether you’re 20 or 60, and bring them to life with exquisite rock melodies and lush, stunning instrumentation. They’ve just released their debut EP Storm Will Come, and it’s a beauty.

The EP opens with the title track “Storm Will Come“, a gorgeous and powerful anthem inspired by the “butterfly effect” – that small causes may have larger effects. And right away it’s clear that these guys are phenomenal musicians, as all the instruments are played to absolute perfection. The vibrant guitars, deep bass line, resounding percussion, and sweeping keyboard synths are all magnificent, and de Haan’s soaring vocals bring goosebumps as he passionately sings We’re waiting for the truth to land in everyone. And when it’s said and done, a butterfly relocates…and a storm will come.”

Anything” is even more beautiful, with sparkling synths, lovely piano and sublime guitars. de Haan’s vocals are deeply moving as he plaintively sings of the selfishness and cruelty of some people who enter our lives, fuck us over, then leave: “My head spins round from all these circular themes. Ones who come, disappear, leave you anything but stone cold and longing for more.” The backing vocal harmonies are especially nice, and I love how the music builds to a powerful crescendo in the chorus, making for a dramatic finish to a fantastic song.

Kind of Blues” really channels the 80s with its fast-paced, driving rhythms and swirling, new wave-flavored synths. The lyrics speak to coming to the sobering realization that perhaps your life hasn’t turned out they way you’d dreamed: “So, we never had a plan. Never thought we‘d lose to this kind of blues. So, when we were young we had a life or two to choose.  Just romantic fools.”

Keeping with that general theme, “Nameless” seems to address how we dream and have expectations and desires, then with the passage of time and how our lives unfold, look back with regret on our mistakes and misfortune: “My truth is what’s behind me. All the rest we cannot know./ You need a name to function. To live you need a dream./ I have hurt myself far too long.” I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but once again I’m blown away by the incredible beauty and power of this poignant song.

Love Lost (Again)” is a bittersweet song that touches on the pain of longing for the return of a lost love: “You’re my heart’s desire. You’re my sun and rain. You’re the ocean waves, please come back again. Love lost again. I can’t win.” The lovely piano keys and haunting guitar chords are highlights here, as are de Haan’s emotion-filled vocals. And speaking of bittersweet, the final track “Allright” really hits us in the feels. It has a darker vibe, thanks to deep, pulsating bass, reverb-heavy guitars and throbbing industrial synths, but there’s also beauty present in the form of delicate keyboard and jangly guitar notes. de Haan’s plaintively laments about the futility of trying to project a happy demeanor when their relationship is falling apart: “I dream all day and cry all night, ’cause we pretend – no we demand – it’s allright.”

Folks, this is a truly stunning EP. Every single track on Storm Will Come is spectacularly beautiful, so much so that it’s impossible for me to pick a standout or favorite. Morgendust are an amazing group of super-talented musicians who collectively create musical magic.

Connect with Morgendust:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase:  Google Play