Favourite Song: Sizarr “Clam” – yes, I miss the Maccabees

Ok ok, I know it’s a little unfair to make such broad comparisons but listening to German trio Sizarr and not thinking of one of the best Britpop bands ever (in the entire world, universe and existence) is simply impossible. Not only because singer Fabian Altstötter sounds a lot like Orlando Weeks (their Wikipedia entry compares him to Jame Blake and Jeff Buckley, which I suspect is a ruse to distract us from the obvious similarities with Weeks). No, the whole vocal style and the use of guitars is heavy into the Maccabees’ 2nd album which was released in 2009 just when Sizarr formed. A coincident? I doubt it.

The only difference: Sizarr love the 80s. As do I, so who am I to judge a band just because the remind me of some other band. Maybe it’s just the grief that makes me hear Weeks in every song, even commercial jingles and street noise.

But! Sizarr’s song “Clam” is such a beauty (also with a little Aha-in-the-80s-vibe) that I let it slide. Especially since the guitar work on that song is more of the 80s The Smiths-variety.  After all, as the two regular readers of this blog might have noticed, I am knee deep in an 80s phase (or “sounds like the 80s-phase”) and therefore all for it. This band, by the way, was suggested by a friend’s friend, so yes, I do get my music from other sources than just Spotify. I have to admit, though, that she recommended this about two years ago … so if you ever recommended something to me or plan to do so you might have to wait a few decades until I finally get to it. THAT’S HOW I ROLL!

One thing, though: the band members have weird artsy pseudonyms which I feel does not work for this kind of music.

Deaf Sty (Fabian Altstötter)
P Monaee (Philipp Hülsenbeck)
Gora Sou (Marc Übel)

This is not the Wu-Tang-Clan, dudes. And if you don’t even put in the effort of wearing abstract masks or outrageous costumes (with glitter!) than why even bother? I don’t get it.

 

Favourite Song: Dream Wife ‘Hey Heartbreaker’ – hey ho let’s go!

Sometimes I go through my old playlists and really miss the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I mean, what kind of band manages to create roughly 3-4 disco club hymns with each of their first three albums? And with the kind of music that really shakes you up. There’s no elegant and timid dancing when dancing to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I will not have it!

Anyways, Dream Wife pack the same energy into their EP “EP01” with four amazing songs that all will take your arm, like your starry eyed best friend and drag you onto the dancefloor, bouncing and yelling “OMG, this is amazing!”

Dream Wife is a lovely trio from Brighton, London, Reykjavik (the usual, really). They are named after an old romantic comedy. You know, one of those that Hollywood produced in the 1000s back then and if you watched only one of them, you will forever wonder if that’s the one or actually another because there were a lot of people having snappy conversations and looking fabulous but also going through not really interesting story lines.

ANYWAY! The band originally started as a femme version of Spinal Tap, including, supposedly, a mockumentary. But good music parody often leads to actual success and so they decided to follow the money and make this a proper band. The songs are short, melodic and, well, snappy. There’s the hint of Deborah Harry vocals in there occasionally (“Hey Heartbreaker” particularly sounds like a long lost Blondie-A-Side) and this high energy of Karen O. To make it short: I like it!

Quite possibly the first time you see how to eat your spaghetti in a punk way. Rule #1: don’t look at the plate or the fork!

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!

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.