Favorite Songs: Yola Carter ‘Faraway Look’

You know that feeling when you hear the first notes of a song and your heart flutters and you feel the love washing over you and then the vocals start and its everything you wanted it to be?

Yola Carter’s new single “Faraway Look” is my love at first tender note. With a soft morning light coming straight from the 70s, with the euphoric chorus of a Mamas and the Papas song, Yola sings “That faraway look in your eyes, it’s getting harder to disguise”.

This is a love song for people who love to dream and to think of better things. And I’ll be damned if we don’t need more alternative love songs. This song is the embodiment of levitating through the day, gazing through people, through buildings and hours to some place, some time and something that fulfills you, that gives you joy and fills you with hope. It’s the 21st century’s equivalent to “your own kind of music” that we never knew we needed but that we obviously needed. I also thought of the amazing P.P. Arnold who knew how to start slow and then go all out in the chorus.

The arrangement is gorgeous, we get the whole orchestra and it’s a lovely soothing background for Yola’s incredible voice (no surprises there, her voice is amazing). I have to say, I never did and never will grow out of these over top dramatic arrangements like these because why hold back when you have so many emotions?

If this is the kind of music that is to be expected from Yola’s forthcoming album, I am so so so excited.

And because Yola sounds equally amazing live, here’s the song live on Jools Holland again. GOOSEBUMPS!


TBT: John Frusciante ‘To only record water for ten days’ is a friggin’ masterpiece

I still can’t believe that I made the switch from the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ album “By the Way”* to John Frusciante’s solo albums within weeks without batting an eye lid. The cumbersome heavy melancholy that not just dribbles but is flooding throughout “To only record water for ten days” can be too much at times, especially as Frusciante – in stark contrast to a singer like Kiedis – lets his voice crack and splinter, go into all the directions that are not pretty.

It’s astounding how an album that is such an inaccessible mountain of fuzzy guitar (and vocals) and electronic dabbling, can be – at a second glance – such a welcoming, warm experience.

Continue reading

Coversongs: ‘It takes a muscle’ by Spectral Display

I had NO idea that M.I.A.’s amazing version of “It takes a muscle” was a cover song. Even on Wikipedia, the first sentence to the song is “is a song by British recording artist M.I.A.” and only then says that it’s a cover. In my opinion, that’s shoddy since it should say: “is a song by Spectral Display, more known for the cover version by M.I.A.”

M.I.A.’s version is lovely because she amped up the slight reggae feel of the original and performs it in a nearly playful way which makes it a cute, fun love song to relax to. It also works quite well on the dancefloor when everybody is already super drunk because you can just sway forth and back for a couple of minutes. I like that the cover kept a little of the 80s vibe but modernized it. It’s a gorgeous cover version.

Spectral Display are from Dutch and the song was released in the early 80s and is a super weird, chill reggae-synth love song that is honestly, it’s own gem. I absolutely adore M.I.A.’s version but this original is such a beast! It’s really stripped down during the verse and then during the chorus a synth wall creates this dramatic feeling and then the song goes into this absurd synth solo (which only ever can be absurd).

This version is a lot more melancholic and feels almost surreal which I guess fits the feelings when you’re falling in love. It doesn’t feel playful but rather heavy, even a little sad. This and the cover show how you can shift the whole mood of a song with slight changes in the production, it’s fascinating, really.

Spectral Display were founded in 1980 by keyboarder and producer Michel Mulders and discovered Henri Overduin who wrote the lyrics (which are genius) and sang the song. As far as I can tell, they only released two albums, their self-titled debut in 1982 and “Too much like me” in 1983.

There’s a ridiculously horrendous homepage out there, saying that the band is back (dated: 2012) and they are working on new music.

Best of 2018: 30 things that made this year better than it should have been

It’s that time again, my best things of the year which not necessarily were produced or released this year but which I read, watched, listened to or otherwise enjoyed this year. So it will be full of stuff that makes you go: Geez, Juliane, that’s like, totally old news, in what kind of cave are you living?” And I’ll be like “I live in one of those parts of town in Berlin that no artist would ever move to because they all think it’s sad and dangerous and poor, so it’s actually kind of like a cave but a metaphorical one!”.

Anyways, let’s enjoy this list (or not, what do I care). Continue reading

Mattiel ‚dto‘ – the Wild West never sounded better

Look, if I were to become a long ranger and needed to hype myself up in the morning to fight evil (space?) baddies, I would totally turn up Mattiel’s incredible self-titled debut album because it’s HOT!

Mattiel apparently grew up in rural Georgia on a farm which might be the reason why her music sounds like a thousand miles of solitude but the kind of solitude that makes you mysterious instead of eccentric and weird.

After moving to Atlanta, she started to write and play music alongside Randy Michael and Jonah Swilley. Her debut album is released on the Burger Records label.

Also: Style queen (what a babe)

Oh, what an album, honestly. Back in the GDR, people were obsessed with cowboys and Native Americans (even though most of it was cultural appropriation and worse things) and I remember this kind of music being such a staple of the lonely rider on his horse, trailing his shadow along. Mattiel takes this old fashioned (and ultimately always wholesome) genre and kicks it into the 21st century. Her style is a glorious boost of duststorm-kickassery.

But more than being retro, this album is a whole load of loud, noisy, rambunctious fun. Mattiel is the Coyote’s knees (urgh, pun-alert) when it comes to gorgeous Wild Western Blues Rock.

Again: what a babe

Pop goes: Miley Cyrus ft. Mark Ronson “Nothing breaks like a heart”

Sigh. Miley Cyrus is my problematic fave. I am truly aware of her appropriation (and then shitting on) black culture and especially the latter is a huge disappointment because there’s no reason for it. For once, I’d like to hear one of those pop starlets to just own up to it and say: yeah, I appropriated the hell out of a culture because I was ignorant. But I learned my lesson and I am sorry and I want to do better in the future.

But whenever Miley Cyrus does Country music with a cool pop spin, I am head over heels in love with her song (see also: “Younger Now” or her beautiful cover of “Look what they’ve done to my song“).

I still think that Miley Cyrus could be one of the greats, despite her rather so-so-album last year. She has the voice and the talent to really make songs her own and she is really good at intersecting traditional country with modern influences which suits her best whenever it’s a little melancholic or dark. “Nothing breaks like a heart” shows how mesmerizing the result can be (even though the video is just befuddling and very “We can’t stop”, I preferred the weird retro-look of “Younger now”, to be honest).

And there is a niche, because Country has been quite exciting in the last couple of years, with a lot of (especially female) singers who shake the genre up and make it theirs. Even though the drawling, finger-guns-country is still going strong, the experimental, alternative side of country has been wild (see here, here and here). Just imagine a whole album of gems like “Nothing breaks like a heart” and “Younger now”, it would be a bop for the lonely broken-hearted souls (and me, even though I am neither!). MAKE IT HAPPEN!

Snail Mail – ‘Lush’ is beautiful indie rock for cool sad people

Lindsey Jordan released her first self-recorded EP when she was 16. I love that we nowadays have all the possibilities to make, produce and release music through the interwebs because many artists can avoid the oftentimes grueling and personality-mutating funnels of the music industry and use Bandcamp and other mediums to gather a small, dedicated fan base and then jump on better things.

Nowadays, Jordan is under the label Matador Records (Interpol, Cat Power, Fucked Up, Yo la Tengo and more). For a debut, “Lush” is absolutely gorgeous and surprising because there’s a very assured earnestness in her music (without being to serious). As a much (MUCH) older person, it’s really interesting to hear these songs about relationships and break-ups and leaving things behind because I remember those days when everything was moving so fast or not fast enough and it was impossible to get your head around whether you really wanted all these changes.

Jordan’s sound is very subdued, classic indie rock that has a clean production but is not overdone. I am quite sure, it translates beautifully on a stage because the songs are so clear-cut, with not much fuss (but a little fuzz). There’s nearly a bit of punk-simplicity in the way she structures her songs. Her guitar and voice take center stage and that’s really all you need, to be honest.
It’s like a really good recipe where few, very good ingredients come together and you can taste all of them (yes, I do like to watch cooking shows, why do you ask?). Nothing gets muddled. It’s the kind of debut album that makes you really look forward for what’s to come but also appreciate what’s already there.