Lazy Sunday: Under Construction

Hey y’all. I know that hardly anyone just stumbles on this blog accidentally, as most just want to read that thing about the boob-songs and the other two people read my blogs as they come. But just in case: I am working on a new category- and tag-system which means that right now, everything is chaotic and makes no sense. Have patience and be kind with me as I have nearly 1000 blog posts to get through. The results will be worth it, though: all the German junk I wrote a thousand years ago will get its own category and therefore will be out of the way for my English readers, random stuff gets sufficiently sorted and all your favourite specials (Soap Box! Lazy Sunday! Song Lists!) can be found in all their full glory under one category or tag.

And yes, I mainly do this for Google and not you but in the end it will help you more than it will help me with Google (as these things always do).

Soap Box: People, I am so done with politics

1. Bernie Sanders really lost me

I used to like the gruff, slightly comedic appearance of Sanders. But then he lost to Hillary and waited way too long to admit defeat and help her on her way. And then he didn’t really say anything when his Bernie Bros attacked Hillary much more than they attacked Trump. And then Hillary lost to Trump and Bernie was like: yeah, that’s because she just said that we should vote for her because she’s a woman (which she didn’t but who watches the debates anyway?) and because the working class voted for Trump but who is the working class anyway? By the way, the majority of the lower income families didn’t vote for Trumps and I guess that is the people Bernie wants to talk about but who looks at facts anyway?

And then Bernie went on this really weird rant about how it’s not enough to be a latino woman or a black CEO, that you need to fight the establishment and at that point he basically said: equality is not as important as a socialist society. And he rambled around and said (I am paraphrasing here but you can read the whole thing here): yes, we need equality, we need more women in the senate and African American CEOs, but we totally also and first and foremost need a strong working class. However, if you want to establish an idealistic socialist society, you better start it with everyone equal unless you want to freaking build all those inequalities right back in to the foundation. Otherwise, you’re back to the problem of white feminism which is based around getting all the equality for all the white, heterosexual able women without any thought of women of colour, homosexual women, trans women or disabled women.

What also makes me angry: that the whole leftist scene in America is so smug and no one admits that they’ve made mistakes, too but revel in the democrats woes like assholes. I don’t blame everything on them but take your f***ing share, this is on you as well!

2. FU protest voters

I am also so so very angry at people who could not only get over their own smugness and voted some comedy candidate or wrote in “Bernie” because HAHAHAHAHAHA! but also heaped more trash on Hillary than on Trump just because they were so in love with Bernie and so angry at that darn e-mail-stuff. I get it, he was all the change and dismissive hand waving and old man-noise-making you always wanted but he lost the vote and Hillary got it and instead of helping her to defeat Trump these people simply could not stop posting how evil, sociopathic and corrupt she was. I actually know of a person who did not want Trump to be president but still managed to talk more trash about Hillary than about him. That is so stupid that I can’t even, you guys and gals, I can’t even.

We are supposed to be in this together – just because you don’t like Hillary’s awesome pantsuits and don’t understand that stuff about her mails shouldn’t mean that you could sabotage her like that!

3. I know, celebrity deaths are sad and all…

But can we please stop saying that 2016 was horrible because a lot of old and ill famous people died? I know that the loss of a celebrity is always this weird shared experience of grief and I too did cry a little and sang a song when the German actor and musician Manfred Krug died. But it feels really bad when you think about the fact that at least one your friends has lost someone last year and here you are, tweeting “worst year ever” like a douche.

You know, I was moved by this, even if it was somewhat cheesy and manipulative. But I like Kate and I like this song and I love the pantsuits. 

4. Politics 101: It’s not as easy as you think it is

All in all, here’s my point of view: this world is not horrible because of one thing. Trump’s election is not singularly Hillary Clinton’s fault, the right-wing movement in Europe is not just happening because politicians and media didn’t take some weird middle class people seriously enough with their “fears”, Brexit didn’t just happen because the EU sucks and Syria is not only suffering because of ISIS. People are horrible and multifaceted. They are envious and greedy and angry all the time. If they are not, they are naive and tolerating of too many horrible things just to have a peaceful life. People are sad and don’t know what to do. People are selfish and they hate to change their worldviews even if they are so wrong that even Kanye West would be like “that’s a bit much, you better apologize”. The media are the worst. We need them, but they are the worst and they are so annoying that I wanted Trump to lose just so I did not have to read 500 articles about his every breath each day.

Even the stalker in this song would have had enough after the first 3 months.

Politics are hard, y’all. It’s not as easy. Bernie Sanders has great ideas but I am really not sure whether he would have had any idea how to realize them with a mostly republican congress. Seriously, people.

Things are fluid. They move on and on which means that one big thing doesn’t necessarily mean the big change we always wanted. Obama didn’t erase racism in America. If at all, he opened up this wound of angry white people and now they are oozing all over the place. This election of Trump is a horrible thing but it won’t be the end. But it might be the beginning of the end if we just take it as it is. I learned that I have to be smart about my vote when Germany votes next year and that I have to blame basically everyone whenever something happens because the one thing that the US election 2016 taught me: it was everyone’s fault and you can’t convince me otherwise.

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.

Jenny Hval Blood Bitch’ – high highs amongst known territory

I admit, I am not one of the early admirers of Jenny Hval, in fact, I got into the game only last year, at the behest of my boyfriend who loves quirky female singer/songwriters with high, frail voices, and I was thoroughly impressed with “Apocalypse, girl“, I bought it, even.

Her new album is now and then a lot more courageous when it dares to delves into pop. She previously taunted listeners more with the beginnings of a pop melody, only to destroy it within seconds, a beauty lost to her message (which was – lyrically – often as much in your face as your own nose). However, this time around, there’s a few songs that Jenny allows to grow melodically.

“Female Vampire” as well as “Period Piece” are absolutely endearing because whereas a lot of the other songs are new interpretations of the same old same old of sound experiments, heavy breathing and spoken word with strong 80s feminist notions, these tempestuous pop tunes are like mutations within the rest of the music (just as “Don’t hurt yourself” is a mutation within the sleek pop production of Beyonce’s “Lemonade”).

Truth to be told, I didn’t listen to “Apocalypse, girl” as much as I could have, because the album is quite exhausting. It’s brilliant but it’s exhausting. The same can be said for “Blood Bitch”. Those somehow trodden experimental songs (sound collages, q’uelle surprise) act like a maze you wander through whereas the pop sparks act like those small patches of open space within, a little bench, a pretty hedge with pretty flowers. There you sit and wonder about the intimidating walls, those dark, ugly corners (geez, “The Plague” is as much cliché as it is amazing in its horror movie screams) and these weird noises beyond the hedge.

In this way, “Blood Bitch” is yet again highly impressive in its concept and effect it has on the listener. I might not listen to it that often (again), but it will stick with me and probably more so than “Apocalypse, girl” because it feels like wandering through an art installation and even if you might raise your eyebrow at the lack of subtlety pretty much everywhere, there’s a real art in its execution.

Haley Bonar ‘Impossible Dream’ – Can we change? Can we stay who we are?

I first heard Haley Bonar’s impossibly powerful song “Last War” which really blew me out of the water. I recently read that she got this kick in the butt-sound after she had her child and I have to admit, I was like ‘whaa?’ because I always think of all those former aggressive rappers who became fathers and suddenly release one shmonzy song after the other. But then I thought of Shara Worden who is a mother and whose recent album features some of the most powerful today, so I guess it’s just dudes that get all soft and all the ladies are like: I MOTHERFLIPPIN’ PUSHED A HUMAN BEING OUT OF MY UTERUS, FEAR ME NOW!

Anyways, “Impossible Dream” is a masterwork. I talked about Bat for Lashes’ concept album last week and although Bonar’s album is more of a short story collection than a novel, there are definitely themes interwoven that create a certain nostalgic atmosphere that is very endearing. In the middle of it is Bonar, telling stories about her youth, her parents and the kind of stories you hear, experience and mingle until they are universal stories of everyone of us.

Her themes revolve a lot around change. How much we change when we look back. How we don’t change enough when we’re faced with something tremendous such as parenthood. How much we want to change to become better people and how much we change into the lesser versions of these ideals. How much our faces change and even how much the past changes the more we look at it through the present lens.

Yes, I am getting a little melancholic and cheesy here, but fortunately for you (and me), the music itself is not nearly as drippy as my ramblings.

In fact, songs like “Your mom is right” are the kind of country-infused rock songs that give a new meaning to this music genre with a bad reputation. In a way, this song sounds like the rebellious, dark cousin of Blake Lively’s country. The one that sneers, that knows more and tells more. Oh, it’s so mean but also true, it’s what you need, even if it makes you uncomfortable. And yes, your opinion on what your mother knows has changed as well over the years. That’s why you watch “The Wonder Years” now and side with the parents.

The nostalgia is strong with this album. It’s a timeless piece and it even plays with that notion, because again, this album talks about change. Remember how you dreamed as a teenager what you will become, how rich and famous and smart and popular and amazing you would become? This impossible Dream is now sometimes flitting through your head. But was it ever something that actually would have worked? Is it even that bad that it didn’t work out like that? The redeeming part of Bonar’s stories is the fact that no one really knows whether the past really was that better and whether it is only our own insecurities that make us feel as if we should have done differently. But in the end, the dreams were not only impossible to reach but also impossible to be as fulfilling as back then in our bedrooms at night.

Songs like “Stupid Face” nicely juxtapose the sadness and aggression that all these changes can bring. “How did I get so mean”, the narrator asks, “I miss the heart that does a cannonball into a frosted lake”, the trust and openness that lie in raw teenage emotions. The realization that these are not immune from flaws. “Our future tastes to bright that our teeth are dentyne white”, Bonar sings in “Blue Diamonds Fall”.

It is this humor and the love for the past and present selfs of all the protagonists she creates in her songs that renders this album special. The music is amazing and especially works whenever Bonar goes for the bigger sounds (one heartbeat of silence in “Jealous Girls” right after the line “they burn the sheets while you rest your head”, oh, remember the 80s) and it all gets tied together with these beautiful stories that are full of real people, real emotions, real dreams and real regrets. All of them impossibly possible for the listener.

Bat for Lashes ‘The Bride’: finally, the concept album with a story

With Natasha Khan’s talents for creating atmospheric themes throughout her albums, it was only a matter of time until she released an entire novel of an album. Alas, in the end it took 10 years since the release of her début “Fur and Gold” and even 4 years after the last album.

Now, “The Bride” is here and it is quite beautiful.

The album tells the story of a young bride left at the altar by fate, as her lover died in a car crash on the way to the church they were gonna be married in. Oh, the humanity! The bride then goes on a road trip full of emotions, withdrawal from life, a yearning for her lost love on the very streets she lost him on and finally a step back towards life.

Khan herself describes the story as a metaphor for relationships in general. And yes, it is quite taunting, this tragic romance of losing your partner before your life together actually starts. With this, though, the ideal of a partner who never got to reveal his real everyday, banal self, weighs more, or rather differently on the bride than the loss of someone she already spent her whole life with.

On her fantastic literary blog, Maria Popova quotes Virginia Woolf’s view on love in relationships: “life – say 4 days out of 7 – becomes automatic; but on the 5th day a bead of sensation (between husband and wife) forms which is all the fuller and more sensitive because of the automatic customary unconscious days on either side.”

However, Khan’s protagonist can never enjoy this fulfilling love but is caught in the first love storm of emotions. Maybe that’s why she flees from her emotions, her thoughts of what could have been and traces the steps of her lover. At one point (“Land’s End”) she even seems to consider following him completely, “Past the motorways and city lights, let my soul be free and spirit fly”, the tragic heroine sings.

But in the end she decides to trace back, back into life (“I will love again”) and the last song may or may not be the happy end, considering whether you think that she found someone new to “lay on your bed and dream together” or whether she went back to the ghost in black.

The music is as much Zeitgeist as it can be. Khan uses a lot of synths and her music videos reference 70s, 80s road movies, shlock horrors (I am thinking of 80s vampire movie “Near Dark”) and according to her “Wild at Heart” and “Bambi” (I guess, the loss in this movie is quite haunting for millions of kids). But the music itself is not a reference to the 80s. By now, Khan has cemented her eerily, light and dramatic sound deep into the here and now and “The Bride” is one of those albums that are symbols of their time (like Peter Gabriel’s “So”, like The Smiths “The Smiths”).

Soap Box: News, things and stuff that bugged me in July 2016

Urgh, July. I was at a family wedding (not my family) and other people’s families are so stressful when you can’t really get away. Don’t get me wrong, it was a lovely wedding and everyone was really nice but it also was so much that I thought that weddings are really overrated. So now I watch this show where four brides visit each other’s weddings and criticize them and I laugh with glee at how awful everything and everyone is.

US-elections: tl;dr

I can not fathom how America can stretch out something as simple as an election into a one year procedure where everything is said and done and shouted BEFORE the actual candidates are decided upon. I admit, the first months of every pre-round are kind of amusing as especially the Republicans slay it with the absurdity of their candidates. But with Trump and the media going hogwild around him, it has been amusing at first, then concerning and now it’s just so annoying because even though Trump always says something stupid/horrible, the media treat it as if it’s the first time he did something like that and everyone is supposed to be like “OMG, he did not say that!”. YES HE DID, just as he did the last 10 months or so, what the hell is wrong with you that you can’t remember that? Please, stop it, vote for Hilary, complain about her when all is said and done and let Trump slowly fade into obscurity.

Terrorism: let’s talk about it, even if we shouldn’t

As you might have heard, Germany had a few rough weeks, especially with the horrible mass murder in Munich. Before the police confirmed anything, the media were already doing two quite bad, no good things:

  1. They repeated the police who advised not to show any pictures of the police work, so the murderer wouldn’t know where they were and what their strategy was, only to show pictures of the police work right after that announcement. They did that repeatedly. They really did that. Like that kid you told not to eat the candy and whilst still looking straight into your eyes, it grabs the candy and jams it into his face.
  2. They talked about the possibility of a terrorist attack before anyone who actually knew the facts confirmed it (spoiler alert: it wasn’t a terrorist attack, it was a mass murder committed by an asshole who didn’t like immigrants), therefore fueling the rumors, the right-wing speculations and any possible fear viewers might have seeing an already scary and gruesome thing. I know, the media always do this, against all experts who continuously say that this kind of shit is the worst thing you can do. It’s frustrating.

American Idol: Sometimes, white men are just the worst, sometimes, though, they really aren’t

It’s nothing new for anyone who reads this blog regularly, I have an unhealthy (and as of now cold turkeyed) obsession with American Idol. This year, the last season ran its course with a solid winner and an amazing runner up. Now, the season is long finished but I recently watched a few of her performances again as I do regularly and I remembered this thing and it still angers me so much.

La’Porsha Renae is going to release her probably fantastic motown album in November. This woman did her dramatic reveal in the middle of the season when she talked about her past. La’Porsha Renae is a survivor of domestic abuse and therefore sang all those powerhouse songs that are about strength and love (for her daughter) and perseverance. When one week, the producers suggested a suck-up song of a wifey to her horrible horrible dude, she politely refused, saying that she couldn’t sing songs like that with heart because it’s not in her.

And I think that everyone who has a heart and a mind and a soul would agree with that and never mention that song again. Well, unless it’s Scott Borchetta who could force a song on the contestants in one of the later weeks and decided that yeah, maybe domestic abuse is bad and a survivor should have the chance to not sing a song that caters to a men after she decided that no man ever will make her beg ever again in her life, but hey, “Stay with me”by Lorraine Ellison is a nice song and welp, he was just curious how she would perform it, right. Borchetta, you dick. What a dick.

So, here’s another powersong for La’Porsha. Her album is supposed to drop in November and I am down for it. Down! I am so down like Harry Connick Jr. is down.

By the way, I gained a lot of respect for Keith Urban on the show. That dude cried like no one cried on this show after Kelly Clarkson’s guest performance and he was not ashamed to show his ugly crying face in front of the whole audience and all the tv-viewers at home. I mean, sure, we’re in 2016 and this should be a non-issue but how many famous musicians do you know that would ever cry like that on national tv without even thinking about turning away? You do you, Keith, you do you.