Jesca Hoop ft.Lucius ‘Shoulder Charge’ – a secret of sadness

There’s duets (tercets?) that are too good to be true. It doesn’t seem such a far stretch because both Jesca and Lucius are amazing at beautiful melodies and haunting harmonies. This is a match made in heaven. But it still comes as a surprise because it’s one of those things I didn’t even think I could get.

“Shoulder Charge” is a gorgeous, slow flowing sad song that sees the loneliness of someone who can’t seem to connect. It’s not even about complete isolation but about things that are sometimes to intimate, the feeling that there’s something so deep and so raw that it can’t be shared with others. Sometimes because there’s no one who would understand and sometimes because one couldn’t imagine a person who would understand. And these things are different, I think.

It has a happy ending, though, when Jesca sings:

“and what a fucking relief that nothing one can go through has not been shared by two”

It’s a beautiful song that feels very intimate but is at the same time obtuse enough for everyone to make up their own secret they’d rather not share, their own sadness and insecurities. And it’s yet again a gorgeous first glimpse into a Jesca Hoop-album.

By the way, I might be completely off but something about this song really reminds me of Sondheim’s “Company“. Maybe it’s the harmonies or the softness of the vocals but the musical is (mostly) equally soft and sad but also not hopeless.


Cover me: “Hazy Shade of Winter” by Simon and Garfunkel, the Bangles and more

Back in the day, when Paul Simon wrote “Hazy Shade of Winter, the song revolved around a melancholic poet wondering about his life and achievements, an ode to midlife crisis even though Simon was in his twenties back then.

Even though the song itself was more energetic and aggressive then what the duo usually wrote and performed, it still had a certain young debonnaire-charm about it.

Continue reading

Favorite Song: Yes We Mystic ‘Young Evil’ – Watching you, watching me

What an amazing song found its way into my inbox. It starts like something dark on the horizon, so big that it blocks out the sun and then rushes over you like a horde, like a wave, like a poisonous cloud. “Young Evil” is the kind of song that elevates your heart rate, makes it heart to breathe, makes you panic without knowing why.

However, as dramatic the song is, the story behind is actually quite uplifting. “Young Evil” is about stunt man and historical power weirdo Evel Knievel, who apparently saw a documentary about himself which was absolutely not factual. But instead of being mad, he was delighted and based his image on this other, fictitious version of himself.

So, in a way, this song that sounds like it will haunt you like the entity in “It Follows” – forever and unrelenting – is actually a wondrous ode to making your own myths, to create yourself in a way that others see you, like a never ending mirroring of what is and what is perceived until you are who people think you are but within your own interpretation of theirs. Oh what, you didn’t expect such a meta commentary, as most of my blogs are about 80s hairspray and wistfully looking out of the window? Welp, deal with it.

(that video is disturbing though and will actually haunt me like that “It Follows”-entity, thank you very much)

I am quite excited for the sophomore album of Yes We Mystic. “Ten Seated Figures” will be released on April 19th and judging from this and their other early release (“Please bring me to safety”) the album will be an experimental thrill ride through Wild Beasts-esque Art pop. Yes, please.

Favorite Song: Black Mountain ‘Future Shade’ -Space metal

Look, I don’t plan to love whatever Black Mountain throws my way, even if it’s some weird metal space opera. I am just here, enjoying a nice evening on my couch and suddenly, I am transported on to a spaceship, wear a neon spandex spacesuit, way too much make-up and have to save the earth from disgusting space slugs. That’s just how it is, that’s what Black Mountain did to me and who am I to turn it down? Now, you might argue here that there are no space slugs in that song but we all know that’s in the subtext, obviously.

Ex Hex ‘It’s Real’ is a kick-ass fruit punch into your face

Yes, please Ex Hex, give me that Bananarama-pazass, that 80s punk rock with amazing harmonies, that laid back cool-girl vibe that makes me feel like a queen, that makes me want to wear leather pants even though I would look ridiculous but also dresses up all my sorrows into rhinestones and dangerous hair styles.

People, what a gorgeous opener to any album, really

The band’s sophomore (I have not listened to their debut “Rips” yet, but I will) is the perfect release for March, a fresh, wide-eyed rock album that has amazing pop songs and utterly joyful guitar solos. Honestly, Ex Hex’ choruses are catchy but their guitar solos are the kind that dreams are made of. If only every band knew how to freshen them up like this, they’re the tangy breakfast smoothie that kicks you out of sleep in the morning.

Mary Timony, Betsy Wright and Laura Harris present an album that is full with melancholic lyrics of broken relationships, dangerous relationships and looking back, not necessarily knowing whether with relief or sadness (or maybe both). Thematically, it fits those guitar-ladden power ballads of the 80s because pure heartbreak and soul-searching always feels better if a chorus of awesome lady voices accompanies musings like “you feel so haunted but you don’t know why”.

Guilty Pop pleasures: The Masked Singer is joyful surreal weirdness

When I read about the US version of The Masked Singer, I was immediately intrigued. I am all for singing talent shows but to add colorful costumes and Mystery-Person-guessing? A dream (phone) come true.

I was therefore quite startled when I read Doreen St. Felix’s review on the show in the New Yorker. Now (!), the New Yorker is probably the last place where I want my guilty pleasures reviewed. Although their TV reviews are usually amazing, these tend to focus on high quality TV dramas and not glam-glittery peacocks singing musical tunes. The Masked Singer, St. Felix writes, is a rebrand of “the dystopia as wacky”. But what kind of dystopia does she mean?

Continue reading

Jon Samuel ‘Dead Melodies’ is a beautiful sophomore

Jon Samuel, probably mostly known for his role as keyboarder/background singer in the amazing Wintersleep, released his debut “First Transmission” in 2012. I was obsessed. This album is an incredibly deep sea sweet water pearl of songwriting and I remember it to be mostly so soft and beautiful, really delicate.

A sophomore after six years seems a big deal, therefore, because first of all, what comes next after such a picture perfect debut and second of all, how much does one change as an artist after six years?

Turns out, a lot and not much, depending on what you’re looking at. Samuel is still a great songwriter and his melodies are as beautiful as ever. But “Dead Melodies” is far from that lovely light debut and starts with fuzzy guitars and a restless rhythm. With a few exceptions, this will be the tonal center point: amazing electro guitar tunes, pop melodies and grand musical gestures, the kind that invite to dance along and sing along. It’s quite possible, that this is also due to producer Loel Campbell (also from Wintersleep) who seems to have been a collaborator and who gave a lot of input and feedback on each song. And this then again makes sense because this album does have little specks of the Wintersleep sound here and there without feeling like a copy but rather a kindred spirit.

In an interview, Samuel calls the title track “vibrant” and that’s a perfect description of most of the album. It shines, it’s a go-getter album, something messily upbeat, something positive.

Like every good dish, Samuel adds texture with the rather melancholic “Modern Lovers” (which is still not sad but more subdued than vibrant and a nice little breather with a very gorgeous instrumental interlude). The following “To Repel Ghosts” is a lovely, relaxed slow-burner only to make way for the pop-tastic “Lesser Evils”. This is the kind of album that shows the attention to the tracklisting because I will assume that this works incredibly well with a Side A and a Side B on vinyl (I’d say that “Lesser Evils” is the first track on Side B?). In any case, it’s appreciated that the energy levels of the song make sense as a whole, as a former mixtape-expert, I appreciate it.

Speaking of “Lesser Evils” – I am all for power pop songs, so I obviously love this, especially since it has a little bit of early 90s, last traces of the 80s dramaturgy which gains momentum with the next song “Unloveable” which smells like that early wave of new wave-revival in the early 2000s, a stomping rhythm, an amazing guitar riff and a very catchy chorus.

I love that every song has a little different sound, a different mood, a different reference without losing the overall feel. It’s a gorgeous album as a whole. I especially appreciate that the last song is the closest to the debut album in sound and feel (the lyrics are cheeky!) but also feels like a Peter Gabriel/Paul Simon-during-their-world-music-phases-in-the-80s-song. It’s such an unexpected, cute and fun ending, it caught me by surprise. I love that.