Let me introduce you to Dutch music. This is the first review I am writing from Oxford, UK – we’ll be broadcasting from here every Wednesday! – but that doesn’t mean I’ll forget my homeland soon. Especially not Wooden Saints, a band I’ve met before and with great pleasure. The fact that they left a note with the press copy of their second album shows the pleasure was on their side, too. So, let me introduce you to Dutch music. I’ll play you Wooden Saints first. They may not be the best band The Netherlands have ever produced, but in recent years, they may be.
Indie is an outdated word. But Wooden Saints is Indie at it’s best. Unstraightforward rock songs, intelligent lyrics, great singers – hey, listen, this is Dutch Feist!!! – and overall a kind of musical intelligence. These guys know what they are doing, how they are sounding and how they want to sound. The result is eleven great *new* songs.
Wooden Saints have changed. At their first album, Arjen de Bock and Viktor van Woudenberg – the brains behind the band – came together every weekend to write one song at a time. Later, they recorded the songs with a collection of talented musicians. During their tour, this collection became a real band and You Were the One Who Volunteered is a real group effort. Hence the title. It’s not a reference to The Hunger Games, it’s a reference to the way you have to volunteer in a group, either to put yourself forward or, even more important, stand quiet and listen to the others. Wooden Saints know how to do this. You only have to listen to the guitar in ‘Lion On a Leash’ to hear that. You could also listen to the silent and silencing ‘My Heart Is a Cave’. This song could not have been made with ten big ego’s in one room, it had to be ten musicians. Or, if you’re still not convinced, listen to the beautiful female vocals with a little crack in it on ‘Alpha Bravo Charlie Disco’.
One way to describe The One Who Volunteered is as ‘colourful’. Colour in music often refers to the timbre of an instrument, but also to the general atmosphere. For Wooden Saints, you could use both definitions. With ten band members, there are different vocalists (calm male, high singing male, beautiful singing female), different instruments and different styles. But even without all that, every song has a distinct melody – a remarkable and heavily catchy one! – an identity and a feeling.
I’ll surely be playing a song of this album in my first English radio show tomorrow. Not only because it will be one of the highlights of my show. Mostly because it makes me proud that I can say: ‘now I’ll let you hear music from my country. They are called Wooden Saints and they could easily compare to what you’ve produced this year.’ Thank you, Wooden Saints, for the beautiful music and for my honour.
-- Caspar Jacobs, October 15, 2013