Mittwoch, Juli 30, 2008

Mystery Jets: Two Doors Down

such a brilliant 80s parody I am a bit worried it's actually not a parody:

Mittwoch, Juli 02, 2008

some of the scariest...

... so-called artists were found on this myspace page today.
There's no need telling you what page this is, but the friends list is extraordinary, don't you agree? It comprises a variety of "artists", but somehow they all seem to be clones. Here are the white people making black music for white people, and the black people performing the white people's black music for white people. Here are white people claiming to be just like black people, and the whites love it. It is all artificial, synthetic, fake, and I don't even mean the imposters only.

On the other hand, I bet you can hum a tune for nearly every one of these pictures and wont get it our of your head for hours.

It's a sad artificial white imposter world of music..

Freitag, April 18, 2008

The Whip @ Magnet, Berlin

The Whip
are a four-piece electro band from Manchester, and one of the sweet memories of my time in the city. I saw them live there about a year ago, at a time when in all of Germany, no one had heard of them yet. Now they are the next big thing (if you wanna call it that way) and you can hear them on the radio and read about them in music mags. With their debut album X Marks Destination released very recently, it was time for them to tour the Continent for the first time ever. I very much looked forward to seeing them, as nostalgic feelings for my time in Manchester keep growing and growing and I think the music is fucking awesome.

I recently started to learn playing the drums and one of the things I learned to play is the thrilling beat of their single Trash. It sounds very simple, but is hard to play because you have to be absolutely exact. I mean, everything has to be in sync, even more than with any other drum pattern I have worked on so far. I decided to make a little research project out of the gig. I wanted to watch the drummer Fiona as much as possible, to learn something from her. It looks like what she does is hard work. She does not seem to stop playing the bass drum at all, and it is all very straight-forward, energetic, like a computer. In fact, she must be a human drum machine!

However, for the first few songs I was not concentrating on watching her drumming at all. Instead, I was dancing wildy, jumping up and down and enjoying the music just as the rest of the audience did (they were not at all as lame and hesitating as a berlin crowd in front of an unknown band is usually). A few years ago I was listening to electronin music extensively and I had thought it was time to go out dancing to electronic music again soon. However, I despise the typically electronic dj sets you usally get, because I know there will always be music I think is absolutely shit, silly and not worth dancing to. Not with The Whip! I was enjoying every single minute, every single beat - the ones I watched carefully and the ones I moved my body to.

The gig was over with no encore after 45 minutes, but what else can a band do than play their reportoire, which naturally isn't that extensive after they've just released one single album. I bought the cd afterwards from their very nice bass player Nathan, and so should you! It was a marvellous evening.

Dienstag, April 08, 2008

Mike Long

Who's that boy? That you dream of?

The one with the exquisite taste in music? Who knows good tunes from original sixties band The Creation to eighties power punk X-Ray Spex to the very recent Robyn?

never heard of any of these? who's this guy who can also give you sixties Beatles, eighties Michael Jackson or rather contemporary The Knife?

Who is this guy who appreciates a sweet soul ballad just as much as a laid-back reggae rhythm or an old funk classic? Punk is on his list just as much as Kraut music or, of course, cock rock - I mean satire.

Who's the guy dancing to each of this classic tunes, with a uniqueness that makes any average white-guys-can't-dance white guy have a little crush on him.

Who he is? He's Mike Long. He's gonna be a star!

Mittwoch, März 19, 2008

Flight Of The Conchords

Here's to funny things happening in music recently. Flight Of The Conchords is a musical comedy duo from New Zealand and they got their own tv show, too! But I'll spare you (or rather me) reciting biographical details and trivia I could only copy from other websites (obligatory link #1: the homepage; obligatory link #2: wikipedia; obligatory link #3: myspace). and give you something to see first and then my thoughts afterwards.

If You're into it

Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros

Inner City Pressure

Business Time

Inner City Pressure is not bad, eh? You can tell it is a total rip off of The Pet Shop Boys, but yet it is such a unique song. The sound is so much the same but they did not just add different lyrics to a familiar melody.

What fascinates me about Flight Of The Conchords is that at first I thought how clever they were not forming an ordinary band, but making a comedy thing out of it. That way they are not limited to one style of music and they do not have fixed roles (like who plays what instrument etc.). Although their live shows are with acoustic guitars only (at least as far as I have seen on youtube), they can play all sorts of music in the show - quoting music history from ragga to hiphop to french pop to electronic music to folk, from David Bowie to Pet Shop Boys to Sisqo and so on. Then I wondered whether this meant they weren't so clever at all, because basically when you use a musical style and just copy it for your own song, then there is a lot of work that has been done for you already. But if you listened to the songs closely, you should object now - of course. What makes each song remarkable different from any music it was inspired by is how the two guys use lyrics to comment on their inspiration, to ironically over-emphasice and ridicule what was at no point meant to be funny by the original artists - hence the comedy aspect.

"you know you're not in high finance
considering second-hand underpants"

is what the Pet Shop Boys would never have added to their description of the lifes of young rebelious west end boys.

Same goes for rapping the obligatory hate rhyme:

"Other rappers dis me
Say my rhymes are sissy.
Why? Why? Why?
Why exactly?
What? Why?
Be more constructive with your feedback, please. Why?"

and If You're Into It is just thoughts of a boy - a boy nobody ever told when to stop!

"If you want me to
I could hang 'round with you
If I only knew
That's what you're into.
You and him
Him and you
If that's what
You're into
Him hanging 'round
Around you
You're hanging 'round
Yeah, you're there too.


Then on our next date
Well, you could bring your roommate
I don't know if Stu is keen to
But if you want we could double-team you
How about you
And two dudes?
Him, you and Stu
In the nude
Being lewd with two dudes with food
Well, that's if Stu's into it, too"

It's soo well done how all the sounds of the vowels correspond with each other.
This is very you can see how much lyrics with music and poetry have in common - the sound has to project the meaning. The way they do it shows they are not only good lyricists, but also fantastic musician. This is very clever, musically and lyrically!

Donnerstag, Februar 28, 2008

never say never!

I'm wanna start one of these conspiracy theories that never die - because they are about people not being dead:

Keith Moon, animal, world-class drumming monster, former The Who member (1964-1978), infamous for his rampant, never beaten hollow drum beating, died at the age of 32, looking a lot older because of drugs and booze and all. Or so we think. The truth is, he's given up drumming, moved to Canada and now writes acoustic songs (no drumming!) for his new girlfriend Feist. You don't believe that? Why then is her song called My Moon, My Man?

Montag, Februar 25, 2008

100ths post!

Margot vs. Leslie

What do these to Ladies have in common? The first one was the first Lady in a small country that shaped my Mom's view of live, the second one is the number-one artist from a great country that, hm, my Mom probably does not know much about.

The first one was how my Mom memorised the second one. I went to the record store with her because I really wanted to give her The Reminder as a present. My Mom asked which record I was looking for and I said "From a singer called Feist". To my very surprise she told me she had heard of that woman already, "isn't she the one from Canada?". "Yes, she is, how did you know?" "Well", my mother said, "I only remembered because Feist is Margot Honeckers maiden name.

Montag, Februar 18, 2008

Sandmännchen all over the world

In his song It Was A Strange Time In My Life, Jens Lekman uses a popular melody to make 17 seem even younger than just not 18 yet. It is the Sandmännchen title melody from the all-too-familiar children's good-night tv show. There is one thing about products of art for kids: They stay in the heart and arouse feelings much more than most things people get to know later, because they are among the first things that shape a person's taste, and they connect to a time when whatever happened seemed to be okay. That is way the Sandmännchen song caught very positive reactions last Saturday night. And I curiously did my research to find out to whomever we owe this little sweet melody.

The Sandmännchen idea was created sometime around 1959 by a West-german radio moderator who already presented an evening show for kids based on good night tales. With the idea of the figure behind, a TV show was to be created. However, when TV people from the former GDR heard about this, they wanted to be faster. The Eastern Sandmännchen was created and aired before the Western one, and according to its composer, the title song was written within three hours, after the lyrics were give through the telephone. Wolfgang Richter was the name of the guy who did the song. In the end, what had started so sudden turned out to be a major success. Today, there are Sandmännchen shows in a lot of European countries such as Great Britain, France, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Hungary, Norway and of course Sweden. And while the idea of telling bed stories to kids is universal, the song itself isn't. Every language has a different recording of the song, and you can listen to some of them, including the one Jens Lekman must have heard every evening, on the official Sandmännchen webpage.

Sonntag, Februar 17, 2008

Jens Lekman @ Lido, Berlin

Saturday night and Jens Lekman is in town! How could I dare not going, especially when I got the ticket as a present (thank you!). As expected, Jens got the masses making a pilgrimage to the Lido, the metro to the venue was packed with people speaking in scandinavian tongues. The growing population of Scandinavians in Berlin is no secret, and neither is Jens' fondness of the city. He has been very charmingly building up a song by describing in detail how to get to Berlin when you are coming from Sweden or Denmark (Easyjet takes 45 min, but Saefflebussen costs 5 euro less, and "knowing Berlin I was sure I could make use of that 5 euro somehow". I enjoyed this story very much, as I am familiar with the pleasures of seeing the baltic sea from the sky and 20 hours on the road all through Denmark and over the bridge to Sweden). The crowd, very likely comprising of Scandinavian-enthusiasts like me, screamed with laughter. Jens definitely is one of an entertainer who knows how to grab the audience by the balls. His show was not that long at a first glance, but three encores really did the deal. In fact, he sang until there was "no more song to sing" (I am sure he has got 10 new songs in his mind at any time) and he said he felt like dancing. No dancing for us there, though, as the after show party was not at the Lido, but in a different venue far away. After hanging around at the venue for at least another hour and a quick drop-in at the döner round the corner we decided to go to the party. It took us 45 mins to get there, changing train twice and freezing, just to be turned down at the door: We were told our tickets are not valid for the after show party and it was 6 Euro entry. I had just spend 6 Euro on a Jens Lekman record and the stupid temptation to speak to the gorgeous drummer about my attempts at banging the drums. I guess I made a little fool out of myself with little-girlish talk, but at least I bought the record. Anyway, no fucking Karrera Klub after show party for us, back to the concert: The record I bought, Friday Night At The Drive-In Bingo, was the last regular song they played and it had this little showdown built in when all the members of the band put down their instruments and danced up and down the stage. There was still music playing then... No hard feelings here, the band was great and I eat my hat if this talented bunch of girls (plus one boy) was not playing life. However, girls (exxageration for dramatic puposes: it was only just one girl) in front of me were sobbing quite noisily when Jens played Pocketfull Of Money, alone with his acoustic guitar. I had no reason to cry last night, I enjoyed it very much.

Montag, Februar 04, 2008

What the world not needs:

Shitty techno remixes!

What could be more exciting than the b-side of a single you just bought? Hopefully it is not an album track, and not a reheated track from years ago. Recently I've seen a lot of remixes of the a-side on the other side of the record. But what could be worse than these oomsta-oomsta-techno remixes which all got the same beat and stretch the voice to make it mickey-mouse-like? This is soo boring. That's fucking with a DJ who pays good money for a song. Is it too much to expect a "decent" b-side? What has worked so well with covers recently is that a lot of people now recognise that what makes a good cover version is a distinction from the original and some imagination in the interpretation of the song. Unfortunately this does not seem to matter for remixes. I actually don't wanna say names, but It's just happened with the vinyl single of Simian Mobile Disco's I Believe. I love this song. I'd love to dance to it in a club. I'd be really excited if I heard a thrilling remix. But I am turned off by uninspired boom boom boom.

Freitag, Januar 18, 2008

woof woof baa

I'm laughing my head off at the moment listening to The Beatle Barkers interpretation of Hard Days Night. As for msucial interpretation, there isn't much new to it, only the lyrics have been substituted with dog woofs and sheep baas. I found it in a podcast by the British poet and musician Martin Newell. It is a very entertaining song that becomes even more entertaining with what Martin Newell has to say about his memories of the 60s and The Beatles. You can download and listen to the whole thing here, the song comes on in about the half or so of the podcast.

Freitag, Januar 11, 2008

01 - Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators: Keep Reachin' Up & Amy Winehouse: Back To Black



These two records largely made my year. I like them both so much there was no way of choosing one of them over the other. Each perfectly fits into one of the two halfs this year has been for me. Keep Reachin' Up is me in Manchester, I can see myself sitting on the bed doing make up and getting ready for going out. I can feel this even now listening to it, the memories are so intense. Back To Black is me in Berlin. The images that come up are less, well, images, rather diffused, but the feeling is the same. I feel butterflies in my stomach when I hear these records. The perfect soundtrack for 2007.
Both records were released in 2006. Like I wrote before, I think that even if I made a list of records released in 2007, it would still make a lot of sense to consider albums that came out in the late 2006. A good records, a NUMBER ONE RECORD needs some time to climb to that position, to become worthy enough for this. This is Keep Reachin' Up for me. Ironically, the first time I heard about it was in a Best-of-2006-list, namely as the number one of the best soul records of 2006, chosen by the staff of Picadilly Records Manchester (which was elected "best independent record store" by the readers of Music Week and "one of the best shops at all" by The Observer in 2006). Their praise of Nicole Willis' record sounded so good I just had to get it. I was curious whether the record would keep the promise made by Picadilly Records - whic was stiring the Northern Soul fire that had been burning in me since I came to Manchester. Needless to say that is just what it did.
Back To Black, however, needed a lot more time to make it into my heart. Although I had heard about Amy Winehouse already when her first album Frank was released, I did not mind her at all back then. I have complained about her quite harshly, but in her case endless repetition of her songs, being played over and over kind made way for her record - through the backdoor.
So Keep Reachin' Up won my heart at the very beginning of the year, and in a straight, steady way. Back To Black only had very few time to overwhelm me, because it took the long way round. But both had to get my in the end.

The two records are very much different, regarding their popularity. Amy Winehouse was massive this year, whereas no one seems to have heard of Nicole Willis at all. I got the feeling that the record might be a bit of a grower, not in terms of the music, but in terms of popularity. Musically, they have a lof of things in common. Both are outstanding up-to-date and new Northern Soul records, and, I must admit, the only two modern Northern Soul records I know about. There might be more coming up this year, with songs like the remix of Frankie Valli's Beggin' getting quite some attention. For me, discovering and exploring Northern Soul was the biggest musical gain I got this year - even more than living in the city of music.
2007 has been the year of Northern Soul for me, and what would be more obvious than to mention Amy Winehouse as the woman who made Northern Soul music fashionable this year. You couldn't avoid Back To Black this year, the songs seemed to be in everybody's ears and her name on everyone's lips. But Nicole Willis made way for her in my heart. So now I hope that the people who love Back To Black could make space in their hearts for Keep Reachin' Up...

Sonntag, Januar 06, 2008

02 - The Coral: Roots & Echoes


Similar to Rjd2's The Third Hand, Roots & Echoes has been frequently on the turntable in autumn 2007. And I literally mean "turntable" this time, as there was no way of avoiding The Coral whenever I went out to listen and dance to great records. All of The Coral's albums have their great moments and when I heard the band at clubs or bars, it was not even that likely I would get to hear a song from their latest record. But I have chosen this one as my favourite because it is the one I have listened to most frequently. Plus Who's Gonna Find Me definitely is one of the songs of the year for me, and it is on this album. But then again, I only discovered Dreaming Of You (from The Coral) this year, and it should have been inside my heart and head from 2002 on. But maybe I would not have been ready for this sixties-influenced, bright and shining pop/rock music back then, I think I was listening to quite different stuff then. That is why I'd rather have the latest record as my favourite in this list, but all the others are great, too.
Anyway, Rjd2 and The Coral is what I have been listening to heavily over the past few months, and to be honest, maybe this is one of the reason they ended up so high in the ranking. For the records that you listened to in the first half of the year may not be in your short-time memory when you are compiling the list, and the ones that you found out about by the very end of the year may be to fresh to really mean something to you. You will soon see how I tried to overcome this problem in my number one.

03 - Rjd2: The Third Hand


I have written about this one here. It is still hard to believe I read about this record in a hiphop magazine first. But yeah, Rdj2 used to be a hiphop sampling dj once. With this record, he has created something more atmospheric, more dreamy, more melodic. This has been the soundtrack for my autumn this year. I used to listen to this one all of september when I was riding my bike. It is a bit of a twisted record, I find it very hard to add "labels" to it. But unlike last time I wrote about this record, there is now something I can give you to hear. Please have a look and listen at Work It Out, which represents the feel of the album very well, I think. It may sound repetitive when you've only listened to it once, but If you give it a few more tries you will realise there is a lot going on in the song.

Rjd2, by the way, is not the guy with the crutches, but, among others, the guy in the blue/white checked shirt following him at the beginning.

Mittwoch, Januar 02, 2008

04 - The Clash: The Clash & London Calling


2007 brought me lots of new musical styles to listen to, and punk rock certainly is a very influential one. I always knew about The Clash, but never paid attention to their music until I went to Britain. When I was there, The documentary about Joe Strummer, The Future Is Unwritten, was in the cinemas. I only saw the film after I got back to Berlin, but the big fuzz that was made about it was something I couldn't escape from. One day I heard Rock The Casbah on the local uni radio station. It's a song I had known before but didn't know which band it was from. I also hadn't heard it for a long time, so it was kind of like discovering it for the first time - this wild, energetic, yet bright and jingly song. I then started to listen to lots of stuff from The Clash, that's why I cannot really choose one particular album to put here in the list. There are lots of Clash-classics, and most of them are on these two records: Janie Jones, White Riot, Career Opportunities, Garageland on The Clash and London Calling and Guns of Brixton on London Calling.
I also got some dvds abouth The Clash from the local library in Manchester. The band was everywhere this year, I even ended up in their local pub in Camden one evening when I was in London - and it was not at all intentional, nor something I knew when I got there. I only found out a lot later. Just like I found out how great this band is very late.

05 - The Detroit Cobras: Tied & True


On we go in the new year with old music. This record contains songs from the 60s, all covered by the band The Detroit Cobras. I like that all songs are really powerful, even the slow, sad ones. I read about this record in a music magazine, and the description sounded so tempting I just had to listen to it! I didnt like everything on it at first, only my first favourite song: Only To Other People. I liked it so much that I have the whole album some more spins. It took a bit of time, but now I like it very much. It also quite well represents what kkind of music I particularly listened to this year: energetic, good , loud, and rather often with interesting female singers.

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