Favourite Song: Yola Carter ‘Fly Away’ – in case, you like Country music

Have I ever confessed to watching “Nashville”? “Nashville” is one of those weird shows that combine kind of good acting, great soundtracks and bonkers Daily Soap-storylines and therefore are a guilty pleasure but with more production quality. Well, due to Nashville and some love for earthy country artists, I have realized in the last 5-10 years that there is country out there that is actually pretty good. And Yola Carter’s EP “Orphan Offering” is the best kind of country you can and should listen to. “Fly Away” has this lovely Rock’n’Roll twist that bands like Aerosmith and even Led Zep (with their unplugged set) incorporated in the 80s. Carter’s voice is insane and she has this deep rooted “Banjo duel”-vibe in her songs that I can’t help but get slightly wistful about, staring out of my window in my Berlin tower block apartment and wondering whether I should work on a farm in the midwest. Of course, I shouldn’t. I weigh about 90 pounds, I don’t even lift and I love to sleep in but for these few minutes, I want to fly away and breathe that fresh country air. Lovely.

Best of 2016: 30 things that delighted me last year

I wanted to write this weeks before New Year’s Eve and then I didn’t, so now I have to use the last free day before work begins to hurl out this stupid list just because tradition. Hrmpf. Anyways, as my last entry already stated, from a world political point of view, 2016 was horrendous. Not the worst year ever (seriously, that’s a bad thing to say) but definitely a year that marked a lot of changes that will affect the rest of the world immensely this year.

But I was blessed enough to have a pretty good year personally, I didn’t lose any friends, I even made some new ones, my family is alright, my cat is alright and I still don’t regret moving in with my partner (for someone who needs to rest after a three hour event with people, this still amazes me). But what else made 2016 a little more tolerable? Continue reading

Songs for the heart: My Breakup-Playlist for 2016

As one of those horrible SJW, one of those politically correct “Gutmenschen”, I obviously watched John Oliver’s farewell to this year which felt quite amazing. And since I am right now working on the playlist of my last radio show for the year, I decided to – a once in a lifetime occasion – also recreate it on this blog because as of late I am not really doing playlists in my show anymore but concentrate on whole records. You get something out of it because I usually write about one or both of the albums I present in the show.

But a December show should have some feeling of closure to itself and I think the best closure that we can get is being done with this year.

Don’t get me wrong, on a private level, this year was as good as they come. But I am not just a private person who doesn’t care about politics because I know that politics have the unfortunate habit of creeping into your life at some point.

So, here it is. My sad, angry, petty playlist to break up with 2016. Enjoy.

Beyonce – Don’t hurt yourself

I first heard the song at the EMAs (you know, when it was supposed to be all about Rihanna but then Beyoncè was like ‘Nah, not gonna happen’ and slayed EVERYTHING!) The song was written by Jack White which is one of those fun facts that leave no surprise whatsoever when you hear it. That’s one hell of a Jack White-song. But it’s also one hell of a Beyoncè-song. And even if I never know how much of her music is amazing marketing research and how much is the real Beyoncè Knowles, it doesn’t matter with “Lemonade”. It’s an amazing piece of art (including the video).

I also would like to note that the poem at the beginning is by Warsan Shire. The whole concept would carry a lot less impact without her work. The quote at the end is Martin Luther King talking about black women. When I talk about pop being where art comes together for everyone, I am talking about this album.

Beyoncè – Sorry

Ok, I actually won’t post other artists with more than one song. But this album defined serving tea and serving it hot and this song will probably be as often cited as “Single Ladies” because it is all the ‘tude and a hat full.

By the way: one of the reason why Beyoncè reigned over Rihanna this year was the fact how she and her dancers don’t feel like they’re really there for the male gaze. It’s obviously sexy but it’s also powerful and strong. I actually think we can thank Nicki Minaj for this newfound aggressive sexuality because that girl mastered it long before “Lemonade”.

Kelis – Caught out there

Kelis was a real revelation when she appeared at the beginning of the 21st century. Wanderland is so underrated, it’s a crime. Her song “Caught out there” is one of the few mainstream pop songs that are really really angry and loud. No whistled “I miss you” but just an angry woman with a stellar voice speaking out what we feel (about whomever, there’s always someone..).

Sinead O’Connor – Red Football

Fun Fact about me: for a while I was completely obsessed with Sinead O’Connor’s album “Universal Mother”. I love pretty much every song on it. “Red Football” is fantastic because the image of how you can feel in a loveless relationship – a crocodile in a small cage people throw stones at – is so on point and sad that there’s no need any further explanation why the song slowly evolves into an angry hymn for the hurt that no longer accept being hurt.

“I’m not no animal, though I am to you” – no matter what the gossip pages write, never forget how beyond this world O’Connor’s songwriting is.

Pat Benatar – hit me with your best shot

A truly successful playlist needs to have mood shifts (except party songs, get those f***ers up through the roof), otherwise it gets either too sad or too chill and then you loose the listener. So, here’s one of my famous breaks which is actually not such a big break from O’Connor’s song because Pat equally is done with X’s shit and will not get hurt anymore. I actually love this because it’s genderless, so you can sing it for every occasion. The barista is an ass? Sing it. The barista is actually really nice and asks what you want? This song doubles as a coffee order!

That’s an outfit. Wow.

Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian at best

I thought I add some of those kinda songs in there for when you break up and feel like a bad bitch (heck, I started with Beyoncè, so obviously that was my plan all along). Barnett’s song actually sounds more like 2016 being a dick to us but I still allow it because I feel like Courtney looks in the video whenever someone makes a joke about how it’s fun to see what Trump will do now. I really want to punch those people…

Nadine Shah – Fool

Remember, when we all thought all of these lyrics when Farage and Johnson started to talk about Brexit and when Trump said….well…basically anything? But then those things still happened to us, so who’s the fool now? I will still add this song because I feel like we should treat this year like a douche who didn’t know better, so the coming years don’t think that we pull up with this crap.

I’d also like to add that Nadine Shah’s is the one voice that haunted me this year. Look at her, what an “Erscheinung” (we say this in German when we talk about someone who leaves an impression…a good one).

Against Me! – fuckmylife666

Laura Jane Grace is a blessing for the LGBTQ community because she is popular, doesn’t shy away from talking about those probably quite painful experiences before she called herself “Laura Jane” over and over again just to help other trans people with their experience and first and foremost, she gives hope for everyone who thought that Caitlyn Jenner will be THE spokesperson for trans issues for ever. Because…that wouldn’t be good…at all.

Martha Wainwright – Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole

Legend says that this song is about Martha’s father (Loudon Wainwright) who was at times not the best of fathers. However autobiographical this song is, it is still so universal as a feminist theme. I feel like it more than ever is appropriate because this year, so much shit happened that we can all finally be loud and angry without being asked to be quieter, to not attack anyone, to be softer with our pain, to not be aggressive, to be careful that no one’s feelings get hurt. Oh no, never hurt the feelings of the racists and the sexists and the homophobes and the bloody mother fucking assholes of this world.

Angel Olsen – UnfucktheWorld

If you like alternative singer/songwriters, you have to listen to Angel Olsen. She’s a revelation. The song is super sad but also suggests that you can and should be your own person with or without someone else. So I guess with this weird analogy of breaking up with 2016 that I created it would mean that you’re still you after all of this?

Fleetwood Mac – Landslide

I love this song (not as much as “Rihannon” but still) because it’s such a sad and lovely song about change that is necessary even if all of your heart is against it. The great Stevie Nicks wrote this song when she was thinking whether she should go back to school or stay in Fleetwood Mac with her beau (and a rocky relationship).

Laurie Anderson – Slip Away

Ok, people. This will be the saddest song on this playlist, so if you easily cry because of beautiful songs, it will be now or never. “Slip Away” is not just about a breakup but losing someone to death. This song is about Anderson’s father. I think a song about how fast loss will sneak into your life, even when you expect it, is relatable to pretty much everyone.

Kate Bush – watching you without me

As usual with Kate Bush, the lyrics of this song are obvious and just out of your grasp. Personally, I would interpret it as someone realizing that their relationship has turned into two people living next to each other, being strangers, being invisible. It’s an incredibly moving song, the idea of the ghost being unable to see the narrator, the unloved, is…haunting.

Celebration – Heartbreak

Are they really as good live as they are on record? Yes, they are. Celebration are the secret tip that never got as big as it should have gotten. I still wish them to stardom because this band has released one beautiful album after the other without any loss of quality, creativity and drive. The song has this lovely feel of a crooked church hymn, I love it.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Maps

During my endless years of singledom, I felt this song deeply. It’s actually about the already covered topic of a waning relationship but it also felt – for me – like a song for someone you’ll never get to know because they simply don’t see you. Like, 2016, we wanted to love you, but that thing with Alan Rickman was really hard.

Laura Mvula – Make me lovely

I feel like this is one of those song I always try to sneak into everything I do music-wise. But gosh, it’s such a great song. And it’s so emancipated! I already wrote this but whatever, we need this kind of music that is heartbroken but not broken. Laura writes and sings about someone who lost so much and feels the pain but knows that they are no lesser person because of this. THIS is what we need for 2017. We are not lost, yet.

Lazy Sunday: Under Construction

Hey y’all. I know that hardly anyone just stumbles on this blog accidentally, as most just want to read that thing about the boob-songs and the other two people read my blogs as they come. But just in case: I am working on a new category- and tag-system which means that right now, everything is chaotic and makes no sense. Have patience and be kind with me as I have nearly 1000 blog posts to get through. The results will be worth it, though: all the German junk I wrote a thousand years ago will get its own category and therefore will be out of the way for my English readers, random stuff gets sufficiently sorted and all your favourite specials (Soap Box! Lazy Sunday! Song Lists!) can be found in all their full glory under one category or tag.

And yes, I mainly do this for Google and not you but in the end it will help you more than it will help me with Google (as these things always do).

Soap Box: People, I am so done with politics

1. Bernie Sanders really lost me

I used to like the gruff, slightly comedic appearance of Sanders. But then he lost to Hillary and waited way too long to admit defeat and help her on her way. And then he didn’t really say anything when his Bernie Bros attacked Hillary much more than they attacked Trump. And then Hillary lost to Trump and Bernie was like: yeah, that’s because she just said that we should vote for her because she’s a woman (which she didn’t but who watches the debates anyway?) and because the working class voted for Trump but who is the working class anyway? By the way, the majority of the lower income families didn’t vote for Trumps and I guess that is the people Bernie wants to talk about but who looks at facts anyway?

And then Bernie went on this really weird rant about how it’s not enough to be a latino woman or a black CEO, that you need to fight the establishment and at that point he basically said: equality is not as important as a socialist society. And he rambled around and said (I am paraphrasing here but you can read the whole thing here): yes, we need equality, we need more women in the senate and African American CEOs, but we totally also and first and foremost need a strong working class. However, if you want to establish an idealistic socialist society, you better start it with everyone equal unless you want to freaking build all those inequalities right back in to the foundation. Otherwise, you’re back to the problem of white feminism which is based around getting all the equality for all the white, heterosexual able women without any thought of women of colour, homosexual women, trans women or disabled women.

What also makes me angry: that the whole leftist scene in America is so smug and no one admits that they’ve made mistakes, too but revel in the democrats woes like assholes. I don’t blame everything on them but take your f***ing share, this is on you as well!

2. FU protest voters

I am also so so very angry at people who could not only get over their own smugness and voted some comedy candidate or wrote in “Bernie” because HAHAHAHAHAHA! but also heaped more trash on Hillary than on Trump just because they were so in love with Bernie and so angry at that darn e-mail-stuff. I get it, he was all the change and dismissive hand waving and old man-noise-making you always wanted but he lost the vote and Hillary got it and instead of helping her to defeat Trump these people simply could not stop posting how evil, sociopathic and corrupt she was. I actually know of a person who did not want Trump to be president but still managed to talk more trash about Hillary than about him. That is so stupid that I can’t even, you guys and gals, I can’t even.

We are supposed to be in this together – just because you don’t like Hillary’s awesome pantsuits and don’t understand that stuff about her mails shouldn’t mean that you could sabotage her like that!

3. I know, celebrity deaths are sad and all…

But can we please stop saying that 2016 was horrible because a lot of old and ill famous people died? I know that the loss of a celebrity is always this weird shared experience of grief and I too did cry a little and sang a song when the German actor and musician Manfred Krug died. But it feels really bad when you think about the fact that at least one your friends has lost someone last year and here you are, tweeting “worst year ever” like a douche.

You know, I was moved by this, even if it was somewhat cheesy and manipulative. But I like Kate and I like this song and I love the pantsuits. 

4. Politics 101: It’s not as easy as you think it is

All in all, here’s my point of view: this world is not horrible because of one thing. Trump’s election is not singularly Hillary Clinton’s fault, the right-wing movement in Europe is not just happening because politicians and media didn’t take some weird middle class people seriously enough with their “fears”, Brexit didn’t just happen because the EU sucks and Syria is not only suffering because of ISIS. People are horrible and multifaceted. They are envious and greedy and angry all the time. If they are not, they are naive and tolerating of too many horrible things just to have a peaceful life. People are sad and don’t know what to do. People are selfish and they hate to change their worldviews even if they are so wrong that even Kanye West would be like “that’s a bit much, you better apologize”. The media are the worst. We need them, but they are the worst and they are so annoying that I wanted Trump to lose just so I did not have to read 500 articles about his every breath each day.

Even the stalker in this song would have had enough after the first 3 months.

Politics are hard, y’all. It’s not as easy. Bernie Sanders has great ideas but I am really not sure whether he would have had any idea how to realize them with a mostly republican congress. Seriously, people.

Things are fluid. They move on and on which means that one big thing doesn’t necessarily mean the big change we always wanted. Obama didn’t erase racism in America. If at all, he opened up this wound of angry white people and now they are oozing all over the place. This election of Trump is a horrible thing but it won’t be the end. But it might be the beginning of the end if we just take it as it is. I learned that I have to be smart about my vote when Germany votes next year and that I have to blame basically everyone whenever something happens because the one thing that the US election 2016 taught me: it was everyone’s fault and you can’t convince me otherwise.

Lucy Dacus ‘No Burden’ – let’s put some warmth on

When Lucy Dacus describes how caring about other people is a beautiful burden (source: Interview Magazine), it gives great insight in who she is as an artist. Her music is lovely alt-pop with a little grunge and a lot of singer/songwriter magic (but with a band! My favourite singer/songwriter magic!) but her lyrics are full of empathy and optimism without ever sounding naive.

“I don’t wanna be funny anymore” for example is about the need to step out of the role or persona that we get stuck in, how trying out other roles (without ever not playing one) is the weird conundrum we place ourselves in. How much do we really need to influence other people’s perception of us? And what happens when “that funny girl doesn’t wanna smile for a while”?

Dacus’ lyrics and her music reflect her age in a beautiful way without the clunky lyrics or the overbloated ego that I for example dealt with when I was 21. She reflects on herself and on the world without every judging anyone. She acknowledges her own happiness and luck (it took her next to no time to get an album done and get swarmed by labels) and even questions whether an always guarded life is healthy for oneself. In interviews as in songs, Lucy appears as a person who is always wondrous, open and fascinated by the world and other people without being oblivious to its and their problems. This is someone who is not as world-weary as early Laura Marling sounded like occasionally and this is definitely someone who is not as dumb as I was back in my days.

“No Burden” is such a beautiful and generous album that it’s no wonder that she and her band could choose from around 20 labels until they finally went with Matador (good choice, right?). And to hear that she already has big plans for her second album and wants to involve her band more in the process makes my heart jump a little, in a metaphorical, non-life-threatening way, of course.

Jenny Hval Blood Bitch’ – high highs amongst known territory

I admit, I am not one of the early admirers of Jenny Hval, in fact, I got into the game only last year, at the behest of my boyfriend who loves quirky female singer/songwriters with high, frail voices, and I was thoroughly impressed with “Apocalypse, girl“, I bought it, even.

Her new album is now and then a lot more courageous when it dares to delves into pop. She previously taunted listeners more with the beginnings of a pop melody, only to destroy it within seconds, a beauty lost to her message (which was – lyrically – often as much in your face as your own nose). However, this time around, there’s a few songs that Jenny allows to grow melodically.

“Female Vampire” as well as “Period Piece” are absolutely endearing because whereas a lot of the other songs are new interpretations of the same old same old of sound experiments, heavy breathing and spoken word with strong 80s feminist notions, these tempestuous pop tunes are like mutations within the rest of the music (just as “Don’t hurt yourself” is a mutation within the sleek pop production of Beyonce’s “Lemonade”).

Truth to be told, I didn’t listen to “Apocalypse, girl” as much as I could have, because the album is quite exhausting. It’s brilliant but it’s exhausting. The same can be said for “Blood Bitch”. Those somehow trodden experimental songs (sound collages, q’uelle surprise) act like a maze you wander through whereas the pop sparks act like those small patches of open space within, a little bench, a pretty hedge with pretty flowers. There you sit and wonder about the intimidating walls, those dark, ugly corners (geez, “The Plague” is as much cliché as it is amazing in its horror movie screams) and these weird noises beyond the hedge.

In this way, “Blood Bitch” is yet again highly impressive in its concept and effect it has on the listener. I might not listen to it that often (again), but it will stick with me and probably more so than “Apocalypse, girl” because it feels like wandering through an art installation and even if you might raise your eyebrow at the lack of subtlety pretty much everywhere, there’s a real art in its execution.