The last great rock band: Thank god, it’s over

There’s currently a great read on Vulture, an interview collection of people who talk about the Strokes and how they blew up and then petered out. The article is great but the notion is all kinds of wonky. Continue reading

Favourite Song: Angel Olsen ‘Shut up Kiss me’ – blast from the past

I usually don’t do this but in the case of Angel Olsen I feel like I have to slam the music press. I’ve read quite a few reviews of her new album (which, I admit, I haven’t heard fully so far, I always get stuck on this song) and there’s way too many people saying that with her new album she proves that she is super diverse. ‘Xcuse me? How did her previews albums not show that Angel Olsen is diverse like the current season’s Queens of Ru Paul’s Drag Race?

I mean, I listened to the exquisite ode to 70s punk “Shut up kiss me” and I was too things:

– delighted how amazing this song is

– totally not surprised that Angel Olsen could come up with this

The video makes me think that I got the music decade right

What’s lovely is that this is a reference to old school New York punk but it doesn’t sound like a regurgitation of the music of yesteryears (least of all because there have been so few women in that scene). Angel Olsen’s vocals on the line “Even if you walk around as though you think you’re right” is such a throwback to early Cyndi Lauper or Pat Benatar (how does she do it? It’s so gorgeous and then she goes into this full, juicy chorus). But the song itself is so dirty that it automatically reverts you back to a decade earlier, strumming along on the guitar and chewing gum in a hot leather jacket (I guess that’s what the NY punk scene looked like, right?).

In fact, the song coincides with a recent re-discovery of a song by a NY punk band that not exactly sounds the same but not only has the telephone-link (Angel: “I ain’t hanging up tonight”) in its lyrics but also this restless energy with an amazing hook line.

I had to look for this. There’s another video but it has a lot of unnecessarily sexist imagery of pin up models and you know what, I will not have it!

I also want to add that I know of the Blondie-version and it is a hoot but it somehow doesn’t have the desperation of the original. Deborah is simply too cool for school to sing about waiting for anyone to call back. Like, who would leave Debbie Harry hanging on the telephone? No one, that’s who. She rather sounds like she’s mocking the dude who’s told her to not leave him hanging on the telephone …

Favourite Song: Anna Meredith ‘The Vapours’ – whaaa?

Anna Meredith’s debut album “Varmints” is absolutely titillating. Remember, when Dan Deacon came along and it was so weird and colorful what he did and everyone wanted to join his crazy live dane parties?

I feel like Anna Meredith is – although stylistically different – likewise this incredibly fresh air of electronica that’s just weird and beautiful and exciting. Is prog-electro (proglecto?) a thing? Can it be? When I hear “The Vapours” I feel like it should be a thing. And I can’t even describe probably what I am hearing because it’s just this gorgeous layered cake of loopy electronics, electric guitars and violins and everything in this incredibly danceable beat and suddenly you’re in the middle of the musical stage with some wind instruments, it’s bananas!

Laura Marling ‘Semper Femina’ – musings about muses

The muse is an interesting concept in (mainly Greek) mythology. Originally goddesses, the muses turned into beautiful women that gave the spark of inspiration to mainly male artists. Even though one could see the role of the muse from a feminist standpoint – after all, the male artist is and can create nothing without the female input – it still stings as soon as you think of all the creative and scientific achievements of men that were created on women’s backs or even stolen from women.

In her newest album, Laura Marling thinks about these fickle creatures aka women (if you translate “semper femina”, you get this meaning) and those women that inspired her on her way. Laura Marling is not only a great artist. She is also conceptual in a way that goes beyond music. In the least few years she released a charming podcast called “Reversing the Muse” which covers interviews with women in music and especially women behind the music, e.g. sound engineers, producers, etc. Inspired by these women, she dealt with the topic of the muse on her album, finally reverting the male-female-story of the muse and recreating the muse as an equally artistic woman who inspires other artists.

Together with the podcast and the album, we also get a visual in form of three music videos directed by Laura Marling herself. Since I really loved Jesca Hoop’s lovely miniature thriller-drama (thrama, thrima?) for “Memories are now”, I immediately compared the music videos and eventually the albums as well.

Just as with her music, Jesca Hoop draws you in immediately with a powerful story (and her incredibly alluring melodies). It doesn’t take more than 5 seconds to fall in love with Jesca Hoop’s album. It took me a little longer, however, to really dive into the often subtle and highly symbolic nature of Laura Marling’s music. Her music videos are equally mystifying at times and work more with a hard to describe feeling and very strong color-schemes than a storyline or real characters. Laura Marling feels a little more sensual, tender, whereas Jesca Hoop has strong ideas that immediately grip you. And guess what: there’s no need to pit them against each other. For me, the comparison is interesting not to find out “who wore it better” but how different styles and ways and inspirations can still have a strong emotional impact and result in such strong pieces of art.

Btw, this is also the main reason why I don’t do “places” on my best of lists. If I like an album, I like it, I don’t need to make it fight with another album to prove its worth.

Jay Som ‘Everybody works’ – this retro 90s singer songwriting debut is so chill!

Initially, Jay Som thought how much it sucks to have so little money just to keep on making music, hence the title “everybody works”. As all the glorious music hit stories of today, she didn’t have to wait till forever (like some wannabe-authors, *cough cough*) to make it big. With her incredible debut, Jay Som – originally Melina Duterte – encapsulates the Zeitgeist of creating nostalgic sounds that she never really experienced. If that sounded snarky, it’s not. Let me explain but first…the Bus song.

While talking about “Everybody Works” on my radio show I came to an epiphany: the time for detached irony is over. This generation (is it still millenials?) finally got over the “oh, this is so shit/tacky/gross/awful, I love it” and discovered that old, vintage things can actually have an emotional impact and be amazing completely without irony. Even more so, it’s finally cool to watch lovely, touching tv shows like “Steven Universe” or “Adventure Time” without blushing in front of your friends who only watch “Venture Bros” and “Archer” and love to snigger at heartfelt truths and feelings.

I might be totally off with this (I am quite sure I am) but young artists like Jay Som beat the constant irony of the Britwave of ca. 2008 and the irk of neon coloured shirts singing about cool things without ever getting close to what they really thought about when they went off stage and into the sweat-smelly tour bus to drive for hours to the next location.

This is an album that is honest, modest even, and rings true.

The whole thing sounds like it comes from a band but Melina-Superstar did everything on her own in her bed room. For comparison: I do puzzles on long weekends.

The result reminds me at times of the lighter Modest Mouse (with this chill guitar sound) and at times of the fuzzy 90s alternative that in hindsight seemed to be a real rebellion against the grungy moping of too many bands of the time (I re-watched early “Buffy”-seasons in the past weeks and boy, so many drab bands with really bad grunge music AND lyrics).

Jay Som, however, creates light, lovely and fresh songs with fantastic guitar-gniedelei and lyrics that are – quite frankly – humbling the selfish arrogant person that I was at Melina’s age. She talks about how everyone has their burden to bare and how sometimes you have to give up some things to help out others. And all that sounds a lot less like motivational posters when she writes and sings about it:

I know you know

If I leave you alone

When you don’t feel right

I know we’ll sink for sure

I’ll play your game once more

If you don’t feel right

(Baybee)

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.