After our 11 brilliant Dutch bands article last year, we've kept our ear to the ground to see what else is bubbling to the top in the sub-sea level land of legal weed, gouda, and supremely outgoing people.
The diverse list includes indie punk rock (Canshaker, Pip Blom), cinematic pop (Kim Janssen and Klangstof), art pop (Sevadaliza), Curaçaoan tambú music, and much more.
But where the country is a smorgasbord of sound, they do unite in their sense of ambition; they strive to make their mark beyond the tight confines of their small, densely populated country. Some of the acts on the list are well on their way to top, but they still have the potential to be gain far more popularity. Other acts are brand spanking new, cutting out of small venues and doing support tours in splitter vans.
Helping foster this sense of desire to be the best – especially among the smaller acts on this list – is the Dutch Impact: an initiative set up to place bands at showcase festivals around the world to help them break international markets.
This platform is especially important as the country is thin on the ground for non-mainstream springboards from which to nurture a following. The country’s lack of bands you can name is proof that now more than ever is time to transform the country’s reputation hotbed for inspiring music of all genres.
With this combination of new and newish bands, Dutch Impact bands - and non - we introduce an outsiders view ono a thriving music scene we’re itching to know more about.
Wait six months and you'll see this Parquet Courts-esque band will have cracked the UK. They've got an album produced by Pavement's Steven Malkmus and are phenomenal live. Speaking with them backstage at Lowlands festival they confessed to having been signed to the most sought after promoters in London Eat Your Own Ears. Having not even played in the big smoke yet having made their introduction by playing support to some of the world's biggest acts, makes them near certain to break more than just a guitar string.
After getting to grips with songwriting in a more folk-y style, Blom’s discovered Courtney Barnett-on-speed type sound on latest cut 'I Think I'm In Love With You' – and it works like a dream. Canshaker Pi's guitarist, Ruby, also plays in the band may have brought along some of the grit that makes her sound is something you imagine getting played on college radio around the time Pixies were cutting through. She has a defiant approach to making music and enough honeyed melodies to show she must have had a fair share of offers from major labels, but lo-fi and raw is suiting her well at the moment.
Already massive thanks to her album ISON, Dutch/Iranian singer Sevdaliza makes some of the most arresting music in the world right now. Her haunting vocals set to trap beats and classical samples combine with a strong art directed visuals that show as much thought gone into semiotics as FKA Twigs. She' an anthropologist at heart with evocative themes in her music ad her successful single to date 'Hero' – as an empowering ode to motherhood – suggests. She also wrote a song that’s not on her album called 'Bebin' which was in protest to Executive Order 13769 – the Trump shitshow that banned Muslim's from entering the Uited States. Written in Farsi, it shows the sense of kinship she maintains with her homeland and ability to stand up for injustice. Right on.
How on earth are this band not on 6Music's A-list? This is indie rock with a spread of influences from Dandy Warhols to Nirvana and fits our irrepressible love of melodic indie rock perfectly. They're not even a shade under a lot of bands at the top internationally. The Dutch love them - they hit number 8 in the charts - but for how long can they remain under the radar?
Kuenta I Tambu
With summer ending you're going to need some Caribbean music to bring sunshine into your home, and Kuenta I Tambu have it in spades. The band mix, to get specific, Curaçaoan tambú music with rave synth and are fit for creating a carnivalesque atmosphere at any gig you're lucky enough to find them in. To their credit, the electronic side is slotted in tasteful, and avoids swamping the more traditional side. They were on ones to watch listen a few years ago but it does seem there's more wind in their sail, especially with a show at Reeperbahn coming up and a successful Womad 2017 performance under their belt.
Part of Eindhoven's thriving arts scene (apparently it's the phase one-gentrified Hackney of Holland) Amsterdam is too expensive for the everyman, and where Eindhoven falls short on historic landmarks, it makes up for in cheap rent and plenty of coffee shops. Anyway, Kovacs. She looks set for big things having built a strong following in Holland. Her arresting voice has been give the seal of approval by Rag 'n' Bone Man and since signing to Warner in Germany has been given the freedom to pursue a successful solo career. In terms of touchstones ,Shirley Bassey, Amy Winehouse and Portishead's Beth Gibbon's make sense, but she's a daring artist not afraid to write uncensored tales of a tortured past with clever metaphorical lyrics and aesthetic. A truly devoted artist.
Fans of jangly early 80s Cure and Josef K guitars, Krautrock and soaring Arcade Fire-esque melodies should get on the angst-ridden brutality of Homesick. The single they put out - 'St Boniface' - features vocals shrouded in reverb, motorik beats and is enough to want to go out and buy their debut album. It’s properly decent rock music that we bet John Peel would have had in session if the legend was still around. It’ll be interesting to see more of this band if they can lure themselves out of the rural idyll of Friesland to become an endemic force on the touring circuit. We wouldn’t complain seeing them live around festivals for the next couple of years.
Klangstof are one of the most full sounding bands on this list; they’ve very reminiscent of Kid A Radiohead and debut album James Blake. Part of the inspiration for the ethereal pop/post-rock sound was singer growing up in the haunting remote part of Norway before returning to his native Holland to launch the band. His music is like a portal to his kaleidoscopic imagination that tranquility as a youth helped nurture and feels simultaneously despondent and euphoric. The warm bass heavy tones also lend themselves brilliantly for remixes with a plethora streaming on Apple Music.
Iguana Death Cult
If guitars swamped in reverb, delay and flanger - and a feral indicative of the wild abandon the likes of Growlers and Ty Segall - are your cuppa, then you're in the right place. They come across appropriately angry and drug-addled and bound to induce a sweaty, gross mosh. They recently played Lowlands, which is a big feat for a new bands - it's like getting to play Glastonbury, according to one manager we met who lives in Holland. If you get to see them we recommend a stuff dose of Buckfast, leaving your valuables at home and getting in the pit. They're such a tight, fun garage rock band, and there’s always space for that.
This electronic duo write music that echoes the busy, tourist ridden, but always charming, metropolis of Amsterdam. The beatmaster and singer cut their teeth rhythm of playing in a live reggae band but cut off on their own path and haven't looked back since. Their knack for earworm melodies combine colourful synth washes and heavy sub-bass that's so natural growing up in the epi-centre of EDM. The balance between pop and electronic are perfectly measured.
With a penchant for cinematic soundscapes to accompany is tender, achingly beautiful vocal delivery, comparisons to Sigur Ros are deserved. Janssen, who grew up with his missionary father in Nepal before settling in Holland, makes icy synth music that almost pines for the staggering beauty of the Himalayas. The surrounds he's been writing from couldn't be more different. Using the pruned lawns and stillness of a middle class suburban Holland as a starting point, his writing is something prosaic to make something visceral out of it: think American Beauty circa plastic bag scene. With philosophical questioning of things others turn a blind eye to, Janssen will never be short of songs and albums that wash over you for hours without you ever itching for the skip button – ahh, we miss cd players and actual buttons.
Dakota take sunny jangly clean guitars and honeyed carefree melodies that have more in common with sunny West Coast Cali dream pop indie such as Warpaint and Beach House- and are not a watered down version, either. The all-girl group are great live, too. They impressed at the Dutch Impact showcase showing much more punch that they’re recordings. In fact, they were so good The Great Escape and earned themselves a repeat spot at Reeperbahn. Nice one.