Iggy Pop & Josh Homme „Gardenia“ – it’s pretty pretty

I am not the most avid follower of Josh Homme’s projects but I never let him out of my sight and you gotta give it to him: this guy knows how to pick em!

If I think of all the collaboration attempts between big names that went wrong, oh so wrong (Metallica ft. Lou Reed, Sparks ft. Franz Ferdinand, Jimmy Page ft. P. Diddy, remember that? What a trainwreck) I am astounded how well Homme’s projects end up being.

„Gardenia“ is such a gorgeous song. It has Pop’s laisez faire attitude we know from interviews which is probably a side-effect of being a ball of energy at live shows and it combines it with Homme’s talent for sounding sexy even when singing weird stuff (in this case, it’s not that weird, though). At times, it has a little Bowie vibe to it but that could also be because it also sounds a little bit like Masters of Reality who are tight with Homme. I love this celebratory atmosphere due to the guitar-wall and in contrast to that Pop’s off-putting vocals (I say off-putting but they sell this song). 

The song also has a certain holiday feel to it (thanks to the guitar) and you can just imagine Pop singing this in a white nightgown whilst smiling suggestively at your girl- or boyfriend. What a gem. I am excited for the album („Post Pop Depression“), even though I am usually not a big Iggy Pop listener.

You know, I thought of posting the recorded version because it’s a little sleeker but Iggy totally sells it here and a little dirt and grit never hurt a punk song – even if it’s such a pretty punk song.

Also, before someone thinks it’s a Kyuss-cover, it’s not but here’s the Kyuss song of the same name.

Return of the Last Shadow Puppets – well, I never!

I seriously never ever believed that the Last Shadow Puppets would be more than a one-off-album. Just like The Deadly Bones or „Over the Garden Wall“, it was a short and perfect piece of pop culture. But Jesus fucking Christ, they are BACK!

Their new single (they is Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys and Miles Kane from the Rascals) is what a new single after 8 (!!!) fucking years should be like: loud, strappy, short and still close to their original sound yet slightly different so fans get all giddy about what the new album should and could sound like.

The walls of violins still stands tall in their new work but I expect some more spunk which is being hinted at with the frantic style of the violins and the overt aggression of the vocals. Oh, and of course Turner brought some QOTSA magic with him (Josh Homme produced the last couple of Arctic Monkey-albums and his trademark high pitched background choir makes an appearance although I don’t know whether it’s him or just sounds like him).

http://www.vevo.com/watch/GBA321500238

Sorry folks, no embedded video because apparently VEVO is super unsafe and therefore WordPress is like ‘dude, get out’.

Also: I feel like I just received a mail from the boy I had my first crush on in elementary school. As for the video…well, whatever. Trippy party videos are so 2013…

Oh boy, Ricky Gervais: The Comedian’s excuse

Oh, don’t you love it when mainly white male Comedians say something offensive and then when some people criticize them for that, they get all whiny and need help from their mainly white male Comedian friends to say that Comedy is allowed to say and do anything and they don’t care anyway (like hell, they do) and you are a poopy face because you got offended.

Actually, I don’t love it. I don’t like the excuses that everything is game in Comedy if privileged Comedians punch down and think that no one can call them out for it. Just because you’re a Comedian doesn’t make you invincible for being a dick and don’t believe for one second that you are above anything and didn’t mean it that way in the first place and it was ironic and blah blah blerg.

Here’s the thing: because you are a Comedian, you know about ambivalence, you know about semantic little details and the small things that turn an ok joke into a great joke. Yes, sometimes it can happen that you make a stupid joke that you thought was harmless but suddenly people react differently than you and your friends to it. Does that mean that they are all “cunts“? No, it means that what you intend to joke about and what other people actually hear can be different. It’s called communication and it is a precious thing that we all have to adhere to to get along in life.

If you are a Comedian, you can play with these things. But if you are not very good at playing with them, people will call you dickish, irresponsible and horrible. And maybe only some of them are “cunts” and the rest just knows that you were really lazy, wrote the go-to-joke for, erm, let’s say Caitlin Jenner (like we haven’t heard this sort of joke before in 2015 and already sighed over it) and then ruined the actually great punchline calling her out for her horrible DUI-incident.

There’s a thing in Comedy that’s called punching up or down. If you punch down, and thereby make fun of people who are weaker than you and are generally weaker in society and maybe even in danger of harrassment and violence (because of you), you are almost definitely an asshole. And no “Comedian of the Year”-plate can change that. Calling out a celebrity for getting away with manslaughter? That’s punching up because that’s what happens, that’s their privilege. But calling out a trans-woman for her public process of feeling comfortable in her own skin is punching down because it is your privilege that you are a white Cis-male who has never ever in your entire life faced the kind of stupid-ass jokes that trans-people have to live with. What a poor little sod you are and how quaint to use “cunt” of all words to throw your fit on social media.

And yes, you can also watch some Stewart Lee on this topic because no one can say better why political correctness can be a good thing.

 

My 30 best things of 2015

Because I like a lot of things and am way too lazy to create a dozen lists to categorize them, I stick with my formula of whipping together all things I liked, enjoyed and discovered this year, so here ya go.

  1. The smartest man I know

This year was one hell-fest of newspaper-headlines and general tumult in my daily life. It’s great to have someone who is (and will be) there. To hate watch bad German TV with, read, see the world and go on lame adventures.

  1. Alabama Shakes

If it wasn’t for John Hubner, I probably never really would have given the sophomore a chance and I am eternally grateful for him always giving out the best music advice. The Alabama Shakes are a real revelation on their second record and dive more into the soul aspect of their soul infused Rock ‘n’ Roll. I gotta be honest – the whole Adele-craze left me a little cold but whenever I see Brittany doing her thing, my jaw drops and I am all over it.

  1. A good night’s sleep

My cat decided to not only go deaf but also go very loud most nights (around 4am). That’s partly due to my boyfriend’s weakness because he will stand up and get the cat some food – a cat knows, a cat remembers and a cat will use it against you if you ever show weakness like that. So, since a few months, I am very happy, whenever I get 6 hours of sleep without that little furry and lovely asshole crying in the hallway.

  1. Zsa Zsa Burger (Berlin)

If you want to get some burgers in Berlin, most people will give you horrible advice. Don’t take it, Hans im Glück, Rosen-Burger and the lot, they are all good but that’s it. If you want some really great burgers, you either pack yourself in the small confines of Shiso-Burger (a somewhat Asian-fusion but not really burger shack) or you go to Zsa Zsa burger and get some buttered brioche, fried onions (freshly made), good cheese and amazing fries – the whole combination tastes like heaven and it will be worth the admittedly steep price.

  1. Nimona

I am a fan of Noelle Stevenson since she marveled (wait for it) over the Marvel-heroes of Hulk, Iron Man and Co. Since then, I guess, both Noelle and I had to realize that Hawkeye, aka Jeremy Renner is not a cool dude to be around if you are a woman. But furthermore, I’ve come to realize that Noelle’s web comic Nimona – which I never read online but instantly bought when I saw it as a paperback – is funny, entertaining, very well paced and perfect for readers of all ages. That always sounds bad but consider this: Pixar is for all ages, and Pixar is amazing. So open up for a different take on a Jekyll/Hyde-scenario.

  1. Laura Marling

The more aggressive side of Laura took hold on her new album and the New York vibe “Short Movies” has (I am smelling Bruce Springsteen here) does suit her voice a lot. Speaking of her voice – Marling is one of the most fascinating artists given her ambition to test out what her voice can do and how it can take on different moods, personalities and styles. It’s absolutely mesmerizing and I will never not be a fan of her.

  1. The Decemberists

I saw The Decemberists live for the first time this year and boy, this is such a great live band mainly due to the chemistry on stage and Colin Meloy’s ease with the audience. Speaking of which, the audience was a beautiful mix of every (white) demographic you can imagine. Oh, and did you listen to their 2015 album? I am still hurting that they didn’t follow up “Hazards of Love” with only rock operas but this one features some beautiful songs.

  1. The Color of Water (by James McBride)

I think that we should talk more often about great things that haven’t been released in the last 12 months because this focus on the new shit is getting stressful. I, for example, read this beautiful biography about a white Jewish mother who raised 12 happy black kids and it was gorgeously written and very moving (the author – her son – is an author and musician).

  1. Bitch Planet

Feminist literature and music is nothing I seek out deliberately. I am the type of reader and listener who is happy about either by women and featuring women with or without a decisively feminist angle. But “Bitch Planet” sounded too good to pass on: it’s basically the ‘fuck you’ of a female comic artist after she was criticized for apparently pushing a feminist agenda with her popular Marvel (or some such) work. And she was like: you want a feminist agenda? I will shove it in your face like no one’s business – cue an outer space prison for unruly women who will fight against male sportsmen in an uneven fight. FUN!

  1. Sallie Ford

The award for most responsible for earworms this year definitely goes to Sallie and I thank her for that because otherwise it would have been something like “Hotline Bling”. Her mix of alternative R’n’R bunched up with some desert rock is like a caffeine boost at any time of day. Add to that some snappy songwriting and the greatest hooks and you have a winner – of my heart and my ears.

  1. Bird Box

One of the most depressing and beautiful books this year is a dystopian horror novel that is stark and pretty much all the way sad and hopeless – the premise is a world where people have to continuously have to close their eyes on the outside because something’s lurking there that is beyond human understanding and will drive everyone mad. Add the need for community, parenthood and love into the mix and this turns into an incredible read that makes you not believe in humanity at all (well, maybe a little bit).

  1. Ali Smith – how to be both

Ok, ok, the book came out in September 2014 but I read it this year and loved it and there you go. The story is hard to explain without spoiling the hell out of it but let me say this: “How to be both” is a story that excels in making you appreciate sound, sight and literature in a beautiful and very tender way. It is also a question of identity, loss and love (yes, again). It’s also somewhat of a coming of age story but not really. Confused? Just read a few pages and you see what I mean – it’s one of those books you can recommend to pretty much everyone (except to people who don’t like good books).

  1. Laura Mvula

Another discovery that was actually actual released in 2014 but it’s MY list, so you have to live by my rules.

Laura Mvula is a true revelation. I do think that “Make me lovely” is one of the greatest love songs I’ve ever heard and one that always gets me, regardless of my mood (similar to Kate Bush’s “watching you without me” and Peter Gabriel’s “In your eyes”). The whole concept of her album with the Metropole Orkest is such a lovely musically old-fashioned but lyrically modern project that it defies any definition. I don’t like bashing others in comparison but how in the world are Adele’s “25” (this year) or Beyonce’s weird surprise record (last year) the albums everyone talks about when we have this incredible piece of music right in front of our noses? I am not getting it. Mvula > Beyonce, Adele.

  1. Stallo

Norway & trolls – never change. A few years ago, I was nearly obsessed with “The troll hunter” one of the oddest movies in the found footage/documentary-genre. The novel “Stallo” is not as funny but equally absurd and therefore quite fascinating, given that trolls are really creatures that are not as universal as vampires or werewolves but deeply rooted into the Norwegian lore. To read a creepy story (not necessarily horror) about these creatures written by a writer who does not succumb to horror clichés and does some weird things with the plot developments, is just like watching “The Troll Hunter” – a strange delight.

  1. Key & Peele

I am always late to the party, so naturally, I discovered Key & Peele fresh right after the last season ended. I had tried some of their sketches first but apparently didn’t hit the sweet spot. My sweet spot apparently is tackling ridiculous clichés of male power and aggression:

  1. Amy Schumer

Oh Amy. As much as I love the geeky side of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey (the latter was the mean girl at school, though), I appreciate a comedienne who gets on the issue of dressing sexy, having a lot of sex and being sexy in general. It’s great that you don’t have to portray a certain image to do feminist comedy and it’s good that female stereotypes can be tackled without a “ha, women are so stupid” or a “men are the worst” at the end of the line.

Her “12 angry man”-spoof is one of the big sketches of 2015 and is the best test whether your friends are feminist or not (if you are not ready for heated discussions, tears and accusations, don’t test them).

Getting Jeff Goldblum say “Dildo”over and over again is a gift in itself.

  1. Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk

If I need a song to sing along to, so I can feel the constant dread of being alive subsiding a little, I turn to this song. It’s the best mixture of funk, pop and awesome singalong qualities (yes, I do the “whoo” as well).

I also want to point out that right now, Bruno Mars and Janelle Monae are the only famous performers that know how to work with a dancing crew.

  1. Janelle Monae

Juliane, are you cray? You haven’t listened to Janelle before 2015?

Yeah, yeah, whatever. I sure as hell don’t know why but now I am on the Janelle train and even if her vocals now and then remind me a little of Queen Bey, I highly prefer Janelle because her albums are tight (no fillers, y’all) and catchy and her whole style, crew and musical aesthetic has a personality that is a lot more defined than Beyonce’s ever was (wanna fight about it? I am willing to bring it on).

  1. IKEA

Urgh, I hate it but it’s the main choice to get a lot of stuff in one go at a reasonable price. Gosh darnit. The minute I earn a six figure number I switch to ethically sound furniture and never go to that hell hole ever again. Till then, I have to admit grudgingly, that it’s very practical to get picture frames, storage boxes, pillows, book shelves and super unhealthy Swedish mystery meatballs at once.

  1. Miley, what’s good?

I am mainly behind Miley Cyrus’ antics and think that overall, this girl has it together and will probably regret few things (the Terry Richardson shoots definitely, the MTV-outings less so). But her ignorance towards the criticism of appropriation as well as black artist’s struggles in the music industry has developed from mildly annoying to outright flabbergasting.

After pretty much accusing Nicki Minaj of being the “angry black woman” after she criticized not being nominated for best Music Video at the VMAs and suggested, it was because she was not white, I threw my hands up in the air and rolled my eyes like this little puppy rolls in a bucket and can’t get out.

Miley, what happened afterwards at the VMAs and what was – despite all your efforts to shine – the most perfect moment of the whole show, you pretty much begged for it by all the stupid-ass s*** you said in that interview. Don’t ever deny someone their outrage at social injustice, especially if you’re not in their shoes and furthermore belong to a very privileged group of people.

  1. A little black pony

We are sponsors for a little (fat) black pony in 2016 and that’s pretty neat. Maybe he’ll even go to pony college and become a ponytician.

  1. Stamp collections & Postcards

Because of my nerdiest of all nerdy boyfriends I recently got into the wondrous and creepy world of stamps and postcards. Wondrous because there’s a lot of stories these things can tell (we even once found a picture of a young man sent to another young man, maybe as a token of love?). The world of beautiful and beautifully tacky stamps is also a wonder to behold, if you want to see where teenager’s renditions of celebrities end up – S. Tome will put them on their stamps.

However, going to stamp & more-fares is the creepy part because most people involved in the stamp collecting business are sad old white men who tend to ignore you if you’re female and whose wardrobe looks like they once found a box of old East Germany clothing of the late 80s (the worst of all times for fashion) and stuck with it. It’s a dusty, joyless business but great for psychological field work.

  1. Old School Tomb Raider

So I bought the reboot of Tomb Raider (not the new one but the old-ass PS3-one) and I gotta say: I am a little disappointed given the very very very heavy shooter-element (it’s close to Uncharted but somehow worse). I like Tomb Raider for the creepy atmosphere, platform-elements and occasional big guys to fight. I do not like Tomb Raider for endless streaks of baddies coming at me (bro) and filling me with dread every 10 minutes. It’s a hassle, it’s stress, it’s not how I want to spend my spare time.

  1. It Follows

“It Follows” is not a perfect horror movie but it makes up for some sub-par parts with great acting, atmosphere and one of the greatest camera effects for ultimate creep. The story is somewhat a metaphor for adulthood and existential dread (also: teenage sex is bad) but works mainly because the entity (let’s call it that, so I won’t spoil the surprise) can’t be escaped. Back in the day I was absolutely terrified of “Ring” because once you got the curse you could not escape it – it’s the ultimate fear, something that you can’t escape (aka death or the cringe you feel when you read old diary entries). “It Follows” takes the same inevitability but amps it up with camera work that never lets you – dear viewer – off the hook because your attention is key. It’s a quite brilliant concept and scared me a lot.

  1. John Oliver

If you are not from Germany, you might not get this but every single day I prey that we’ll get someone like John Oliver, Amy Schumer, Trevor Noah, Jon Stewart, etc. etc. We don’t have anyone like that here. We have some incredibly dickish people who are funny at times and some nice people who are not really funny and a lot of dickish people who are not funny. There’s not one who seems genuinely concerned about the world, who is funny and still likeable. It’s a hassle.

So, I am clinging to someone like John Oliver who now and then tackles broader topics than the Daily Show and does so with a charming quality that I may call: the nerdist swag.

  1. Moving out

When I first moved to Berlin, I always thought that I would stay there for a year, get work experience and then head off to England or New York to become famous. Five years later, I am still in the same one-room-flat. Well, not any longer! I moved pretty much in a haze in September/October and despite a crying-fit one day before the movers came (how does so much stuff fit into one room and why are there never enough boxes?), it was smooth sailing. Don’t tell anyone that we didn’t even look for a flat that much but still found one within two weeks. This does not happen in Berlin.

  1. Desperate Journalist

My new musical discovery this year led me through Winter 2015 with angsty 80s-inspired wave-pop. It’s the right kind of music if the air is biting and the day consists of 3 hours light and 21 hours dreary grey and black tones mingled with depressed people on busses and trains.

  1. Spelt bread & milk

You know what sucks? A food intolerance that’s like “haha, I’ll be super illusive and you never know what works and what doesn’t because it’s all about freshness and hidden crap they put in food and don’t tell you about.”

And do you know what’s great? Food that’s like “fuck that, I’ll be good for you forever and always!” Thank you spelt bread and milk, I sure do love you!

  1. Introducing “The Court Jester” to people

“The Court Jester” is a staple of my childhood and quite possibly one of the funniest and most charming musical comedies ever created. Given that it ages gracefully it will never fail if you introduce it to people. They will be skeptical at first, leering at the musical numbers at the beginning but in no time, their little faces will shine with joy and glee and a new-found appreciation of Danny Kaye.

  1. Potatoes

See 28. Plus: there’s nothing that potatoes can’t make better (even a rocky marriage, a difficult political situation or climate change, trust me).

Joanna Newsom ‘Divers’ – let it guide you

Joanna Newsom has a whole group of fans who sit over her lyrics and dissect them for hidden meanings, references and stories. They will be rewarded, as Newsom herself said in a recent interview (via The Guardian) that she knows this and therefore doesn’t slack on her lyrics.

But I assume that there is another group of fans who like the other oddity of her music which has a lot to do with another thing she said in an interview with NPR:

I hope that it’s possible, in the sense that the thing that is most important to me, truly, is that the melodies be good and pleasing and beautiful. And I know beautiful is a very loaded and sometimes problematic word. But I want songs to be substantial and have a strong core of well-written melody and exciting, interesting chord progressions — these things that are very immediate, and don’t require digging or analysing in order to “get,” whatever that means.

Newsom’s music is dense as is Nabokov’s prose, whom she mentions as a literary inspiration. And as much as I read Nabokov, I listen to Newsom: with the faith and trust that despite all the twists and turns and skips through themes, images and ideas, I will find my way back and see a story appear in front of me as if watching an impressionist creating shadows, sun spots and movement by obtuse sparks of colour.

In a way, this faith and experience of listening to „Divers“ (and „Have one on me“) feels like the viewer feels when watching the somewhat monumental „Russian Ark“, a one-shot-journey through a museum in Russia (specifically the Russian Hermitage Museum), living through centuries, rooms full of art and the hidden stories of people who once may or may not have lived there.

The storyline is hectic and slow and breathless and sometimes even plays with the viewers desire to look further whilst the protagonist – or rather, our narrator and guide – rather contemplates or watches someone watching art. However, at no point in the whole 96 minutes does the viewer fatigue or bore as the imagery is of such beauty and the camera work is so intricate and well choreographed, that you glide along and all the subtleties, all the stories, they tag along but never fully form until after the movie has ended. It will stay with you and you will return but the ride doesn’t have to be exhausting if you ease into it.

Absence and the life of a blogger

Hello, dear readers, did you miss me? Did you even notice that I was gone? Oh, private (yeah, I know that’s an oxymoron) blogging nowadays is a curse and a blessing. On the one hand, you basically do it for yourself and can do or not do whatever you like, on the other hand there is always the nagging sense that if you only do enough, write enough and stay on top enough, you finally get those 10K-readers and media-attention and then maybe even someone famous like Taylor Swift mentions you and life will be perfect (I mean, I would totally be fine with someone like Lil Bub because we all know that she’s way more influential than Taylor will ever be).

But the reality is that reality is work. Work is work and I do it and I do it quite good which means that I don’t have that much time.

Moving from pretty much inside the city to not so much inside the city is also work and it is stressful as heck (why are there so many cartons still, when it feels like there’s already so much stuff unpacked?). It’s also time because now it takes a thousand years to reach home. On the plus side, I read more.

Being in a relationship is work…well, sometimes. But it also takes up a lot of time and is so nice to have that I don’t really want to go back to them single days when I was writing blogs on a Friday night till 2am.

And generally being in a state of flux since a few months is work because I am neither spontaneous nor adventurous and I like things when they all come together but hate the part of coming together because you never know. YOU NEVER KNOW what is going to happen.

OMG, is this a breakup-post?

No, don’t worry. I just want to explain what happened because it’s rude to kinda stall a relationship and then get back to it as if nothing happened. Something did happen, alright and I have a little less time for this blog but I am not gone or at least I don’t plan to be gone. Actually, I plan to reshape the blog a little, maybe write a little less pieces but make them a little longer and more analytical. But then again, I might just as well be lying and start writing about Pusheen on a daily basis. Who knows. YOU NEVER KNOW!

Half Moon Run ‚Sun Leads me On’ – aw, it’s lovely

What starts as the seemingly nice outing of a singer/songwriter (spoiler alert: it’s more than one dude) soon turns into a pretty exciting exercise in Indierock that might not be very new but is very rare, nowadays.

Half Moon Run deal with the beauty of melancholic melodies (think Keane, early Coldplay) coupled with the breathless and slightly aggressive outbursts of bands like Muse or Hawksley Workman (don’t know him? Look him up!).

Admitted, at times, the album „Sun leads me on“ seems a little too eclectic, „Turn your love“ seems like a late Kings of Leons vs. Maroon 5-combo that just as well could have been released on a follow-up EP because it somehow does not go well with the overall mood of 90s indiesongs and some rowdier rock edges. But I’ll grant everyone a snoozer if they charm me as immensely as these guys do.