Favourite Song: Stephen Rennicks ‘I love you all’

The soundtrack for the music drama “Frank”, very loosely based on Chris Sievey’s alter ego back in the 80s and 90s, is absolutely marvelous in every single sense. The movie is mainly about a band that records a new album and then tries to make it big – or, at least one of their members tries for them to make it big. The soundtrack, written by Stephen Rennicks who seems to be the second coming of experimental art rock, captures not only the writing process of very good and very bad songwriters but also the hilarious but pretty accurate steps a band like the unpronounceable The Soronpfrbs have to take to create their layers of sound. The beauty of the end result is songs that should be dissonant and exhausting but instead slowly spiral into incredibly breathtaking popsongs (even if the movie is mainly about the fact that the Soronprfbs are everything but pop).

My favourite song is “I love you all”, a song that starts as if it was meant to be a Joy Division song but then gets lifted into mid 70s psychedelic choirs and then suddenly gets thrown to the Residents and then fades out. This might be easily one of my favourite fictitious band efforts in a movie ever because they are so out there. There is nothing easy or simple or mass pandering about this music but it still works, it still is so moving and emotive and much more impressive than any classic indieband could have been. Kudos for the balls to use the weird for the soundtrack and all my love for turning it into something this insanely beautiful.

The movie itself is also fantastic and pretty hilarious at times, despite some rather dark themes. Mild spoiler ahead: It starts like many movies you’ve seen before and already are tired off but within 10 to 15 minutes breaks all your expectations into pieces and throws them into the sea. The trailer is also a little misleading as it suggest something like a summery teenage-indie-movie but it isn’t (thank god for that). Maybe it was the fact that I watched this around 2am but I am absolutely overwhelmed by it.

I gotta give it to Chris Sievey’s original head-creation (which is only slightly altered for the movie) because it is such a neutral face that it can both be terrifying and hilarious, depending on the scene. The actors all actually played their instruments and sang in the scenes which is always a plus (they did a live show after the premiere of the movie).

This is pretty amazing.

“S” is great – and that is actually an artist’s name and I am done here

Ok, apparently no one listens to my repeated rantings that bandnames should be possible to google. Yes, I am playing the Devil’s Advocate here, saying that you need to market yourself and put yourself in a spot where fans can easily search and find you. Having a letter, a single letter as your name is not the way to do this, no, it keeps people from finding your music!

That being said, S does incredibly awesome and lovely music. If you are – as well as apparently everyone else – a little bit disappointed with Karen O’s solo record, you might enjoy S’s forthcoming album because listening to her earlier records, she is a mixture of Karen and old-school Tegan and Sara – that’s a pretty good mix and I enjoy that mix a lot more than I enjoy either of them (which is not to say that I don’t enjoy these two acts).

So far, the only song from S’s (sigh) new album “Cool Choices” (that bandname? Not a cool…ah, I stop with the complaining now) is “Vampires” which is a little of those trendy modern sounding 90s and it’s an incredibly fantastic popsong that is still immensely cool. It actually gives you the opportunity to dance silly to it or to just calmly nod to that cute guy/gal/transgender person on the other side of the room. And the song really sneaks up on you. It was merely a blimp on this month’s playlist and then play by play became a frontrunner if only for the catchy melodies, the nice breathers in between and the reminiscence of late 90s early 2000’s alternative hitsongs (I can’t remember their names right now but they were there and they sounded a little bit like ‘Vampires’, you have to believe me!). Her previous albums have been recorded in her bedroom, the new song sounds a little more studio-y and I am looking forward to hear the full album but I am also looking backwards to her previous amazing albums.

‘Oh’ dear

For quite a while I wanted to do a list of songs that I really liked as a teenager only to realize that it wasn’t really the songs but the great choices of samples in those songs. I am thinking Aretha Franklin on a Mos Def song, I am thinking Blondie on a KRS-One-song and I am thinking of Lou Reed on a A Tribe called Quest-song and many more. Now, don’t get me wrong, all the mentioned Hip Hop songs are pretty amazing (in stark contrast to sth. like that way too awful “Mary J. Blige inappropriately samples “Every breath you take” for a eulogy”-song) but back then (1997/1998, long before the internet was cool), it was next to impossible to find out that those samples were just that. And when I realized it much later, it – well, it didn’t make me angry but I was a little disappointed because I could have listened to the originals and got to know amazing artists (or unknown songs by them, I knew Aretha since I first watched the Blues Brothers as a lil wee kid) long before I actually did.

I can’t tell you how obsessed I was with this spec of a song and how long it took me to find it.

See, when I see someone like Destiny’s Child sample the crazy guitar intro from “Edge of Seventeen” or when – even worse – a really bad DJ pretty much bases all of his success with a song on Aloe Blacc’s beautiful song “Wake me up” but doesn’t even mention him in the title even though that song without Blacc’s vocals would be super boring and lame and crap, I get a little frustrated.

Just f*** that stupid DJ. Sure, Blacc was probably paid well enough but f*** that DJ.

And now Jay-Z gets sued for using an ‘Oh’. And a German paper describes it as the possible end of a whole genre if he actually has to pay for it. “It’s just a simple syllable, should he really get sued for that?’, they ask and I say: Well, if he samples someone else’s work and makes tons of money (this is Jay-Z we are talking about, not some independent rapper who works as a barista to make his living) with it and then doesn’t even mention it in the liner notes, then…well, maybe suing is a little much but how else do you keep those big-ass musicians trampling over the creative work of more unknown (or already dead) artists without even mentioning them? And why in the world couldn’t someone like Jay-Z just freaking do his own ‘oh’ into a mic and be done with it? If he really wanted to honor Eddie Bo, who originated this specific ‘oh’, then shouldn’t he have mentioned him somewhere?

Legal shenanigans aside, I am glad that Jay-Z got sued, so we got to listen to this song.

See, I still cringe when I read another story about an Elvis song, a Beatles song, a Led Zeppelin song, a Rolling Stones song that was pretty much ripped out of the hands of some obscure blues musician and then used without any permission (or payment) only to sell like Cronuts (are those still a thing? They didn’t taste good enough to still be a thing). And although I don’t want to make every DJ’s work so much harder and more dependent on money that they have to get permission for every single sample they use (I mean, this idea of reappropriating art – in a non-Shia-La-Boef-coyping-it-way – is part of our culture and shouldn’t be destroyed). But if you are Jay-Z, for goodness’ sake, be a bit more respectful of other musicians because you can afford it. You don’t have to use other people’s samples because you lack the capacities, money and people to make your own samples. And if you want to use them, give credit where credit is due.

Yeah, you roll your eyes but this is the coolest way ever to sample a song – get that original artist on stage and let them wiggle their butt in a blue leather dress and have fun. 

Lazy Sunday: I might have an Adventure Time DIY-problem here

I think you can officially call it an obsession as soon as you got a knitted Jake, a self-made Finn-costume and a Fimo-LSP.

lumpy space princess@fichtenstein

But let me explain: My office is in one of those really sleak and intimidating office buildings in the middle of Berlin and the atmosphere there is rather sterile and impersonal. And after passing the first month of “will this work or not”, I really wanted something personal that cheers me up during the day (and no, I won’t have pictures of my cat at work – no one there shall know how close to CCL I really am). And I thought that Lumpy Space Princess would be the best sassy mascot for working in cloud computing but alas, most figurines of her are either not 1:1 versions of her or they are super expensive. So I thought that I might just as well make my ideal LSP myself with the wonders of Fimo. And I did. Everything is possible now.

Cover me badly: Randy Newman ‘I think it’s gonna rain today’

You know, people can make fun of Randy Newman – and I mean hilarious fun – as much as they like but the dude can write a darn good song. And whenever his vocal delivery doesn’t make his music appear to sound the same always (ALWAYS), you can just see it so clearly and when a song like this:

…when a song like this gets interpreted by a singer who generally is known to put an amount of emotion in her singing that it simply breaks your bones under the weight, you really see it so so clearly as if it’s the first memory you ever had and that you will always keep.

Oh, not her, sorry. I mean, this is great, but scroll down a little more, ok?

Now, there have been many many great artists (and many more not so great artists, *cough* UB40 *cough*) tackling this song. Bette Midler does her Broadway-thing where everything is a little too theatrical to go all too much under your skin and Peter Gabriel gives you a hug as he usually does and you turn your head away because of the tears. But Nina Simone’s version. I mean Nina Simone’s version is the one that understands Newman as a songwriter and elevates the song, so it can leave you space to really feel it and get silent for a while.

Lazy Sunday: Calm your tits

 

For everyone who wondered what I usually think about after a long day at work.

calm your tits

Sylvan Esso interview: non stop beautiful answers

It’s the first time at the Berghain for me, after roughly 3 ½ years I finally succumbed to the suction of this hotspot of Berlin nightlife and can marvel at the interior, a rather beautiful and large-scale wall painting and the admittedly great acoustics of the place that I boycotted for having face-controll at their weekly parties. I don’t do that. Elitism at the club entrance is gross.

The reason for my first visit had to be a good one to abandon my standpoint on these sorts of clubs and it sure was – Sylvan Esso were playing and if you want to dance till you melt into the ground, get a little nostalgic and enjoy a very energetic live act then this is your jam.

Sylvan Esso, aka Amelia and Nick, met at a show where both of their previous bands Mountain Man and Megafaun played and hit it off immediately. After a long email-exchange, they suddenly had their own song in their hands – “Play it Right”.

Amelia is one of my favourite onstage-dancers.There’s no self-consciousness just moving to the music.

They continued their mailing but soon realized that it would probably save a lot of time to live in the same city, so they both decided on Durham, USA, an apparently growing second coming of Portland – watch out Portlanders!

If you want to describe Sylvan Esso – named after the game “Swords and Sworcery” (that’s not a typo) – with very broad strokes, you could go along with a somewhat 90s inspired dance-pop. But if you have a few more seconds left, you could also add that they dabble with 40s folk-music and harmonies (mainly because Mountain Man were all about all the beautiful lady-harmonies). The first song on their self-titled debut therefore doesn’t start with any beat, just Amelia’s voice layered slowly easing us into the band’s knack for creating rhythm purely through vocals and then suddenly throwing in a heavy bassline and turning this beautiful a cappella song into a glimmering disco-miracle.

Oh, and there is so much beauty in this and all the following songs that are either right in your face (‘HSKT’ sweeps you off) or slowly reel you in like this super cool dancemove from the 90s. Do you know what I mean? The lasso and catch-dance-move. Classic.

Where was I? Ah yes, before I ventured into the Berghain that night, I met with the band for an interview and had a blast which I want to share. So let’s do this! Continue reading