Cover me godly: 21st Century ‘Remember the Rain’ covered by Kadhja Bonet

If I interpret her interview in The Guardian back in 2016 correctly, Kadhja Bonet does the orchestra arrangements on her music herself. That is important to know because the arrangements on her cover version of 21st Century’s “Remember the Rain” – a soft soulful ballad with a punch in the chorus – are absolute heaven.

The original is lovely because that young voice and that chorus (including the spoken word) is weirdly cheesy but in a good way. It’s always weird hearing those super young singers sing songs about broken hearts but man, they really sold it.

But then there’s Kadhja Bonet’s version and it’s so amazing. She takes this song that in its raw production is so charming and sweet and turns it into a glamorous, dramatic, epic, orchestral masterwork, all with a voice that is in contrast to 21st Century’s vocals absolutely in control emotionally, like a woman who thinks about a pain long ago that still hurts but now is part of her allure.

Think of those songs they would play in an old spy-movie at the end, when the protagonist eventually has to walk into the sunset on his own because he’s simply one of those guys who can’t be close to anyone. That’s the kind of gravitas the song brings with it. There’s a purely instrumental part near to the end when you even get a flute solo which brings me so much joy that I can’t properly describe it.

Bonet’s cover is one of those songs that sneaks up on you because it sounds so easy-going yet decadent, so soft and rich that it takes a few listens to realize how perfect everything comes together, how many details create this picture perfect piece of art.

I mean, that’s one hell of a cover song. I am absolutely overwhelmed.


Favorite Songs: Bill Withers ‘Grandma’s Hands’

Like many of my generation I first came into contact with this song due to its use in “No Diggity” by Blackstreet back in 1996. But the original is not just a nice sample, it’s an example of how great songwriting can really connect people. Wither’s memories of his grandmother Luna in church and his grandmother soothing, teaching and protecting despite her age and ailings are absolutely wonderful.

The mourning of her passing in the last lines nearly goes by unnoticed because the memories of her are so strong that she still seems to be there.

I really adore songs that are true and vulnerable and full of love. “Grandma’s Hands” is a song that connects because it’s about family and most of us can relate having a family member (or a friend) who always seemed to be there and help and soothe and spoil.

And yes, I do remember my grandma’s hands and how they always smelled of dove hand cream and how they moved when she sat on her couch knitting, like little birds, waving a nest or how they so delicately held her cup of tea as if she was dancing with the porcelain.

Laura Veirs ‘The Lookout’: warm, opulent folk

I have to admit, after falling head over heels in love with Veirs’ “July Flame“, she somehow dropped off my radar (with the exception of the otherworldly “Sun Song“). But I might have to dive deep into the last 8 years of Veirs and peers (sorry, I had to).

“The Lookout” is such a gorgeous album, starting with “Margaret Sands”, already steeped in a production that sounds out of this time (quite often, taken from the 60s that themselves got inspired by baroque music). There’s a generosity in this album that’s hard to describe. From the use of a buttload of instruments, arrangements and references to Veirs’ beautiful lyrics full of rich imagery:

Now she’s married to the swell
She’s swaying in the shells
Whispering in the waves

(Margaret Sands)

I especially love how quite a few songs will leave ample room for beautiful instrumental solos that go from deep rooted country folk to psychedelic Beach Boy aesthetics to Fleet Foxes-territory.

There is apparently a theme for the album which is – I quote: “The fragility of precious things.” This reminds me of Kate Bush’s “Cloudbusting”. It is also about protecting these fragile things and in this regard it’s maybe a very contemporary album because if you look at the political landscape, it does feel as if the things we hold dear might need protection from whatever can happen to them at any time. Given that Laura is not a young Tween anymore, this focus on fragility might also be the realization that which age you realize how fragile relationships, worldviews and even people can be.

The Lookout, therefore, is not just the place which allows you to oversee all those things but also the responsibility to care for them.

Favorite Song: Chastity Brown ‘Wake up’ – Roadtrip Melancholy

I neither own or drive a car but I still have a Spotify-playlist called “Roadtrip Melancholy” which verges on cheese but only so and can be summarized by “music that is like Roy Orbison’s ‘I drove all night’”.

So, when I heard the first driving beats from Chastity Brown’s song “Wake up” (from her album “Silhouette of Siren’s” and her voice sang the line “don’t you ever miss me, when you’re gone”, I knew it fit that playlist like a glove.

The song is a weird mixture of 90s songwriting with a little alternative mixed in there but also a heap of country (especially in the chorus). There’s so much space with the instrumentation and I guess that’s part of what I wanted for the playlist: music that creates wide spaces, that has a sense of distance, of winding roads, ever changing scenery and a weird yearning towards something, anything. It’s a perfect song.

(also, that ring is gorgeous)

Brown’s music is beautiful, her voice has little texture, the kind that turns everything a little bit more alternative. But there’s a great warmth in there as well, so her songs (like “Drive Slow”) really sooth your soul even if they’re sad.

Decemberists ‘I’ll be your girl’ – Stranger Songs and a Prog of seagulls

I am quite glad that the album starts with the beautiful, The Decemberists-typical “Once in my life” and not with their single “Severed”. Since the sound of The Decemberists as well as Meloy’s songwriting always had an air of nostalgia and out-of-time-ideas, it’s weird to suddenly hear them being all synth-band. And even if “Once in my life” has a subtle Smiths-guitar and equally subtle synths, it is not as much in your face as “Severed” which is a hit to your head (it doesn’t hurt much, because true to the time period, you’re wearing tons of hairspray and your hair is a mile high on all sides).

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Horror movie list: Camping is deadly!

I loved camping as a kid. Admitted, I am from Germany and especially back before David Hasselhoff single-handedly tore down the wall, people from East Germany had not many holiday-joys left other than camping or depressing tower block hotels with a gazillion people in them. But even camping was less the solitary trip into nature that most other people know but rather a big field with a lot of people in tents surrounded by nature (and Trabis). I mainly loved it because I loved reading books and comics in the tent when it was raining (which it naturally does whenever you decide to go camping in a tent) and eating junk food. Since these are the only things I fondly remember of camping, maybe I just liked staying in and reading (it would make sense given my present inclinations).

When I was older and really into music, I had to do the camping as a trade with the devil to spend time on festivals. I did this throughout my twenties and at some point realized that I absolutely loathed camping on festivals. It’s too loud, you can’t sleep, gross people will pee against your tent, the toilets are so disgusting that you will immediately wish humanity to die out and to be honest, once I moved to Berlin, I didn’t need to go to festivals anymore to see some bands. I was drowning in them!

So, there’s a weird ambivalence for me when it comes to camping. I think that the nature, clear air and loneliness is amazing. On the other hand, if you really go non-German camping, like, in nature without any other people, then it’s actually scary because there’s no Wi-Fi in nature!

Lo and behold, there’s naturally quite a few camping-based horror movies out there. I guess one of the main reasons is the advantage of not having to get permits for tons of buildings, rooms and streets. You also don’t have that many idiots walking through the set or onlookers. Especially found footage is crazy about camping and forests and weirdo lakes with ghastly secrets. So let’s see which movies I found that I actually can recommend.

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Hurray for the Riff Raff: whatever you like, they got it

For some reason, Spotify’s algorithms decided to present all the great albums from last year to me and not give me any new album releases, so I forever will be stuck in that time bubble from yesteryear. But then again: who cares?

Hurray for the Riff Raff released their probably seventh studio album (their discography is complicated) “The Navigator” and it’s a beautiful folk/Americana album with a pinch of pop for the occasional flirt on the dance floor. The band is fronted by Alynda Segarra who is the kind of amazeballs style icon I’d like to befriend but are too afraid approaching because she oozes cool and nerdy kids like me don’t mesh well with cool.

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