Jesca Hoop album ‘Memories are now’ – the here and the now and the break

Jesca Hoop’s new album is out since roughly a month now and don’t think that I didn’t listen to that record already a hundred times. I did. But listening and writing are always so different, because one involves manual labor and the other doesn’t. Continue reading

Favorite Song: Lauren Ruth Ward ‘Make love to myself’ – get your creep on

I love the timeless feel of Lauren Ruth Wards country with a 70s Fleetwood Mac-feel. I guess it’s my age (or Spotify’s creepily great recommendation algorithm) but suddenly there’s a lot of country music (or country inspired music) that I like and Lauren’s pop with an edge is weirdly mesmerizing. After the lovely and stripped intro, the song soon turns into the kind of bluesrock-ish sound that might make Jack White ear’s tingle (if I were him, I would call Lauren soon to ask for a collaboration).

The song itself is a power-song about creepy dudes not getting the hint that they should leave and be creepy elsewhere. In the video, Lauren plays the creep and turns it into something even more sinister. It’s cheeky and adds to the song in an interesting way.

I don’t consider myself someone who knows a lot about the country scene but from my point of view I get the feeling that there’s a new batch of interesting mainly female artists who take the genre and make it their own by throwing out the clichés (especially lyric-wise) and modernizing it. I also appreciate a country music video without any dudes but with amazing hairstyles.

Favourite Song: Priests ‘JJ’ – there’s a Rockabilly in your Garage Punk

I feel like Priests secretly hide a poster of early 90s Glenn Danzig in their bedroom and yes, I do imagine that they all share one bedroom because that’s what bands do, right?

The debut album “Nothing feels natural” has spunk, a tinge of many a fun sub-genres and a charming bratty vocalist who could win a Danzig-coversong contest and I will say this over and over again because this kind of singing is a dying art but it is so catchy and mixes incredibly well with breathless rhythms. And even though “JJ” is fun as hell, Priests also get a little darker and weirder and less Danzig on their debut which is my kind of album and one of the reasons why Garage Punk mixed with other genres always gets bonus points in my little book of favourites (which is this blog, there’s no real book because I am a digital lemming who doesn’t even know what “books” are). You’ll get your too cool for school 80s punk, a surf rock inspired ditty and even one of those weird guitar-heavy spoken-word songs you can do the robot to. Everyone wins.

I also enjoy this music video very much.

Favourite Song: Jesca Hoop ‘Memories are now’ is on loop

This year, Jesca Hoop finally releases a new solo album. Last year she did a beautiful folk album with Sam Beam from Iron & Wine and although it’s a lovely album with lovely songs and a warmth that might be quite needed these days, I felt Jesca’s intense talent regarding strong and catching melodies take the backseat. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still there but just not as much in the front as her solo songs are.

Case in point: her two new singles from her soon to be released album. Whereas Jesca’s and Sam’s “Love Letter for Fire” is all about sweet love songs, her solos singles “The Lost Sky” and “Memories are now” both are about breakups and painful ones at that.

Both songs have a clarity when it comes to the melodies. The melody is up front and everything else comes together through it and doesn’t overshadow or cover it. No wallowing, no meandering and Jesca’s voice is seeping through your skin into your veins, giving you goosebumps. “Memories are now” starts with a low beat and her sighing in the background before her vocals really set in. Jesca is her own choir in this and it’s such a beautiful effect.

Her song is a strong breakup song, the song of a woman who lost someone because he disappointed her and she is no longer taking it, “I have only now to bare the load”. Thinking back on Laura Mvula’s breakup song “Make me lovely” this feels like a different heartbreak. Whereas Laura’s breakup is still full of love that ran out for the other person, Jesca is simply done and wants to move on, to leave nothing but memories.

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.

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.

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.