Klef Notes

Music Reviews

Gentlemen of Rock 'N' Roll - "Rock and Troll"

It is no secret that there are many Rock bands who can flaunt LEGEND status, but how many can talk the talk and walk the walk?  How many musical resumes really illustrate this fact?  Few.  And if they are successful in mainstream markets, then they are probably tainted or muted by the commercial aspect that just sucks the life out of pure Rock and Roll. 

Out of Rotterdam, Netherlands, a city known for its maritime heritage, Erasmus University, and lively cultural life, we have one of Rotterdam’s best assets – the Gentlemen of Rock N’ Roll – four gents who know how to do Rock and Roll! 

Gentlemen of Rock N’ Roll are a band of brothers who have collectively been rocking out with each other for over three years to date but individually bring along with them decades of musical experience and talent adding to their bragging rights.  Let me introduce the foursome, we have John Bijl (guitar and vocals), Emil Ensminger (guitar and vocals), Arie Korving (bass and vocals), and Luuk Cool on drums. 

And make no mistake; they know what they are doing.  Their compositions resets our minds to what Rock and Roll music intended to do decades ago – make you move.  And even though the music has a nostalgic feel, nothing about this EP is dated – we have modern instrumentations of knocking percussions, ecstatic lead and rhythm guitars, pulse throbbing bass, sizzling cymbals, killer keys, definitive vocals and harmonies, and practical lyrics. 

“Rock and Troll” is the band’s newest release, a mix of classic Rock and Roll fused with modern Rockabilly, Rock, and Pop Rock.  

Before I get into the review, I will give you a fore gleam into what their music sounds like, imagine if you could liquefy the sounds of The Beatles and pour it into a glass of Roy Orbison, and then the cocktail is drank by Chuck Berry, and . . . . wait for it, and then Chuck Berry plays a song that that drink inspired him to compose, well, that composition would be Gentlemen of Rock N Roll.  Honestly, this is no fluff, when you listen to classic Rock and Roll that is exactly what these Gentlemen are cranking out – all of its legendary riffs, scales, and bars added to a bit of modern engineering. 

"Rock and Troll" has ten songs: 

1. We Still Rock

2. She Is So Fine

3. “When She Walks

4. Beautiful Day

5. Perfect Forever

6. System Tracking

7. I’m Yours

8. Only You

9.  House of Cards

10. Set Me Free 

This is a full EP review of “Rock and Troll.”  The seven tracks within this review beautifully illustrate my interpretation of what modern true Rock and Roll sounds like. 

Out of the gate and off the cuff, we are introduced to pure Rock with “We Still Rock” an anthem-worthy track about having longevity in this business we call music.  “I got news for you, I was born this way, so unblock your ears, I got something to say, we still rock” John Bijl sings.  This high paced track is sure to get you moving. 

“She Is So Fine” is a true Rockabilly eased-up track that has that great mesh up of Blues, Rock, and R&B.  The instrumental techniques on this track are splendid.  From the C minor bar chord barred on that beautiful 8th fret to that wondrous B flat major chord, all hands are on deck to musically demonstrate how FINE this girl is. 

The best thing to do with the third track is to crank this up and feel the POWER.  This is sure to be a crowd favorite.  The electrifying introduction progresses into a fire and this blazing musical momentum just keeps on moving throughout this Rock track.  “When She Walks” is the Fireball Whisky of the collection.  One of the best accessories us women can have is our walk – that splendor and the magic.  The gents reiterate this fact on this track by singing “What comes up must come down, a common knowledge that comes around / everybody gather around when she walks.”  The guitar solo at the 1:41 mark sends this cut over the top.  

The music carries the sixth track entitled “System Tracking” and the six strings take center stage with infectious shuffles.  Technology is on the move, the lyrics relate, plain and simple – no reason to make it more complicated.  “Machines are leaders / computers now guide us to where we must go.”  It’s just that real.  You can hear the talent of Emil Ensminger all over this cut.  This short Rock and Roll ditty is driven by that lead and rhythm guitars.  That funky, grooving, rhythmic hook kept repeating in my head.  This track will be placed on repeat. 

With heart-melting lyrics that read like a “Hallmark” card, “I’m Yours” is an honest Pop Rock ballad that surely makes its mark.  Bijl beautifully sings “I am yours, you are mine, and forever I want to be with you, yes you are my heart, my savior, you make me whole.”  And what adds more appeal to this honest track is that the band allows for the music to just take you – no rush and no over arrangement of vocals.  Like songs decades ago, the lyrics are scaled back and the music plays a major part in executing the track.  It adds a feeling of calm and charm.  Spring is just around the corner and lovers will enjoy this track. 

The slow tip-toeing track called “House of Cards” beautifully shows how life is a house of cards with its frailness and often paper-thin demands.  The songwriting here hits this point right on the nose, the lyrics read “make some money start to build a life, bought a car, even found a wife, look around and I found a place, altogether a steady base, life is a house of cards, when you realize the trouble starts.”  Wow, the truth hurts, but it also heals.  This short soul stirring track gets into reality fast and closes with a deep message that ties in the main premise.  Luuk Cool’s bass drum pounding along with Arie Korving’s bass plucking all gives off the musical effect of pressure building in your head when the body recognizes trouble. 

The final track “Set Me Free” closes the EP with a bang.  This dancing track simply states the obvious, that when talent is caged, it HAS to be set free.  The lyrics simply illustrates this point by reading “well, it’s all in your mind she says, all the dreams you’ll ever have, baby I’m not blind to see . . . set me free.”  Liberating and captivating, this track has all of the classic instrumental hills and modern valleys that make Rock and Roll ROCK. 

Let’s face it, unfortunately Rock and Roll in mainstream music has given us ZERO music to date that we truly love, I mean, that we are mad crazy about.  Tom Petty put it well when he stated that “standards go down, we settle for less . . . none of us seem to be enjoying popular entertainment.  It's missing an element of truth, almost to a crisis proportion" (USA Today, Oct. 3, 2017).  Gladly, the Indie music realm has given us some righteous cuts to reawaken us, and you can find many of those artists right here on this site.  Adding to this ah-some mix is Gentlemen of Rock N Roll, a band who can truly talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to performing and recording Rock and Roll music.  

“Rock and Troll” was recorded with live instrumentation and this is a big turn from the norm when many artists today record full EPs and albums using nothing but computers and midi controllers.  Now, don’t get me wrong, that is all good; there’s nothing wrong with that method, but using live instruments in whole or in part just shows the full scope of the word “BAND” where musicians are separated from performers.  The collective and sole enjoyment in making music with the talent that each member brings to the table by way of their instrument(s) can really be seen with live instrumentation.  And this has nothing to do with EDM, Pop, or any other sub-genre of a classic genre, but when your musical stage stands on a classic genre such as Rock and Roll, people want to see and hear the musician. 

As one of the bricks beginning to rebuild classic Rock and Roll, the Gentlemen of Rock N Roll are giving us just what society needs at the proper time, a sound track.  They are set to make a cultural impact and are making music that will keep us, their fans, rocking for decades to come.  

And to the person in Rotterdam who said that these cats are too old, that they should stay in the bar-scene and not try to enter the big game, that their time has passed, please stop being a “troll” and look up the definition of the word LEGEND!  Nowhere does it read “old,” “dated,” or “expired.”  Actually it’s a noun that means “great,” “timeless,” “popular,” winner of battels, having longevity, and/or soaked in your talent/craft.  So go ahead and place these cats next to the word LEGEND as they are doing an honorable thing in revitalizing a genre of music that Chuck Berry, Roy Orbison, Rolling Stones, and even Elvis loved, lived for, and set a legacy to – Rock and Roll. 

So keep at it rockers; keep rocking out.  The clock does not stop, it keeps on ticking.  People are craving good music, and as long as we have ears as humans, we are gonna listen – especially if it real MUSIC.  We are here for you and surely love what you do. 

This month, their newest album comes out called "Cherry Rocks."  Head over to:  https://gentlemenofrockandroll.bandcamp.com/ to hear more!  Plus, take a look at this documentary footage of the guys in their musical element and beautiful Rotterdam https://youtu.be/H1OIIutiC2c.

 

Comments

To John and Arie (and the rest of the band) - it was a pleasure to listen and write about your music. You all have that natural talent that is so missed in today's music market. Keep rocking my brothers - Love you all. Besos!
Thankx very much for your great review; you make us feel very proud. We love to play and live rock and roll .Its an amazing game wich we try to play according to our heroes decades ago but who still live in our and many other hearts. Love you! Kind regards Arie
Thank you, so spot on.

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