Seems like this year ends as it started. Just the news arrived that George Michael died during christmas (isn't it ironic that is was his Last Christmas?). I don't have to tell much about his life and music. This will be done by the medias. I remeber one evening maybe 10 years ago I watched him live. I got the tickets as a birthday present for my former wife because she's a huge fan of him. So I joined her, expecting nothing special than a good show. But what happened made me change my mind. I saw a great entertainer blessed with an incredible voice. Listening to sonf he sung acapella made my hairs stand up.
To all of you out there: I wish you and your families a very quiet and peaceful Christmas time. My thoughts are with everyone losing some friends or family members during terrorist attacs like happened a few days back in Berlin. So enjoy the time with the ones you love.
At the end a record by a band that was one of the reasons I turned into electronic Music. Underworld released their Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future early this year and I listen often to it. And their combination of Techno/house-influenced sounds with some rock elements works well at any places I listened to it. The leading track of this record in my opinion is Low Burn a wonderful combination of a pulsive Techno and ambient sounds.
We had yesterday some laid-back, relaxed sounds and today I will turn into something totally different. Messer is a band that came on my Radar like seldom a new band during the last few years. It is a band from Münster, Germany, existing about six years making a minimalistic and often gloomy post-punk Music. Sometimes they remember to Fehlfarben with their cryptic lyrics. But they created a very unique sound of their own. Lead by a succint bass and a spherical guitar they form probably one of best new sounds here in Germany.
Over at The Swede's place you find a link to a record that is on his heavy Rotation right now. All of them are intresting and inspiring and often you can find real nuggets there. One of those is the latest record by Nashville based musician and compser William Tyler Modern Country a record that I listen often in the early nighttime when I just wanted to listen to handmade and relaxed music. He's on the Nashville Scene for many years and toured and played with Lambchop or The Silver Jews before he turned into developing his very own kind of music. I like him for the way he Plays his acoustic guitar in his very unique way. Songs you can listen to and forget almost everything what was in your mind before.
Another well record I enjoyed much this year comes by a Denish project called Western Skies Motel. Acoustic Music on a very high level. Tbey self call their Music like dry wind in the praire. And they are not far away from this. This Music could work on an old Italien Western when someone sitting on the porch, watching the dessert and waiting for someone to arrive.
I was thinking about this list for a couple of weeks before I went to Sri Lanka. Therefore I updated the music on my mobile phone. One of the newer records I copied on the SD Card was the latest release by A Tribe Called Quest. We Got It From Here ... Thank You 4 Your Service I listened often since then. It is not only a nostalgia trip listening to their Album because I followed them during the last years as one of the few HipHop artists. It is more a giant statement on the end of their career. It's also a tribute to the everyman genius of Phife, a widescreen look at the record-making skills of Q-Tip, and most importantly, it's a pure, undiluted, joyous thrill to have the Tribe back and still sounding this vital (so I read somewhere and I have to agree). They still have the best Statements (except Kate Tempest in another way), flows and samples and their Songs crawled into my ears and I often can't get them out of my mind. If there is only one record to buy in this genre it should be this one.
It is not easy These days to intruduce someone arabic influenced Music. There are too many prejustices in everything that has a muslim touch. Therefore I am glad that a Berlin based trio tries it anyway. Oum Shatt released their first record with the same name in spring this year and since then it accompanied me since now. I like their dusty, crispy art-rock combined with surf guitars, elements of new wave and Arabian sound harmonies. And after all - this combination works well.
Suuns, a band from Montreal released their third record during the year. I really like it but the main reason it appears in this series is that they impressed me very much with their live show. To discribe their Sound is not easy. It torns between two poles. On the one Hand they create a wall of bloody noice with searing guitars, scorched by feedback; a rhythm section blasted through blown speakers. On the other hand, they’re curators of subtraction and ambience. Often built on one-note pulses; faint echoes of yelling guitar below a repeated, spoken word. They don't create songs - in my opinion they create sounds. Of course the album is not easy to listen to but if you ever saw them live with an awesome light show you will understand what I mean. An education for your senses - ears, eyes and your stomache.
Last time I featured the veterans what means that they are on duty for a long time. Today there are some bands that was famous in the early 80's and came back with some good records this year as well. First of all Wedding Present surpised me with their superb Going Going. As we all know them as a band from the early new wave/DIY-times with jangly C86 guitars they transformed the spirit of these times into nowadays. There are a lot of great and different songs on this record so I am not able to Name them to only one genre. I really love this record because the more I listen to it I find more and more details in their Songs. Good to have them back.
Teenage Fanclub appeared this year with a new record after five years. Here contains a lot of a band who's made the epic Bandwaggonesque. Jangly sparkling (Pop)Songs, all arranged well with a Country style touch. It reminds me to Gram Parsons or The Byrds in their Sweetheart-era. All in all a record I will listen often till their next release.
Another band that is on the Scene since many years is The Monochrome Set. They released with Cosmonaut probably the best record of a Musical journey from the 50's to the 80's. What I love about this record? It is one you put on your turntable sitting down and start thinking of anything and nothing. A record you can relax by even the songs are different. From jangly guitars, psychedelic sounds to perfect pop you can have it on one record.
One of my favouite artist during the last decades released another record far over the average. Most charts will name Nick Cave's Skeleton Tree as one of the best records of this year. I don't have to tell much about Nick Cave, because he is a legend, a mysterium or the messias or just a great and good working machine. Take what you want -everything is ok. Most of you will know about the tragedy behind this record. For me it's not a record he done because his son died. I am surprised that he did it either. It is collection of dark and somber songs. Often reduced to the minimum and lead by Nick's sad voice. I listened often to this record but was unable to listen in a row.
Another veteran released a record early this year that impressed me much. Not only because he accompanied me during the last decades I listened to this record often. The sound is fresh and shows him in a very good shape. So I can't believe that this would be his last record. The Music remembers me on his Berlin days in the late 70's/early 80's. Bowie influenced Songs with more heavy guitars additioned to his unique sound. He made a record other bands would dream of.
Jagwar Ma, an Australian psychedelic dance band released their second album early this year. If they surprised me with their first record than they impressed me with this one. It is a sound with spherical ambient, danceable rhythms and fluent crossings between the songs. It is not only one sound on this record - they put together very different sounds/influences to their very unique electronic sound. Almost every song is different to the others. Sometimes you have a great groove, sometimes you can hear a garage-guitar between the vocal harmonies. The best I can say is that the more you listen to the songs you find something new you didn't recognized the last time. In my eyes an underrated record of this year.
If I should name a (punk)-rock record that was released this year and that will stand the test of time, there will be only one record that that is worth to be named: Savages and Adore Life. When their debut record was grounded in an punk-rock influenced sound their last record has still this roots but more improved. These ladies make the heavy sound of today. Songs filled with terrific riffs and unbeatable bass-lines makes this record worth listen from start to end more than a few times during the year. This record has the requirements to get a classic record you would name when you remember this year.
When you read this post I will be on the plane to Sri Lanka to spent the rest of the year in the Asian sun. I couldn't prepare the rest of this series in advance but I try to finish it these days. I am not sure if I can offer you some download-links but I try to offer you the music in another ways.
You might know that there is music for every mood you are in. Seldom enough there is music that fits when your in a good mood and in a worse atmosphere. A band that fits in both moods comes from the Netherlands. Bombay is the project by Mathias Janmaat a multi-instrumentalist located in Amsterdam. He's on the scene during many years and this is the first record I recognized him. Deeply based in the tradition of Grunge he adds a lot of low-fi ingredients to his powerful sound. Their songs works with powerful drums and a mighty bass. Their songs are different in their structures and moods. Sometimes dark and gloomy and if you give them a chance you might find a great new band.
Back to electronic music and a band that impressed me much this year. Die Wilde Jagd (The Wild Hunt) is one of the latest bands from Düsseldorf which keeps the spirit of this city alive. Düsseldorf is well known as the birthplace of German punk and electronic music. Krautrock is the synonym I would give them because they they formed a sound that Cluster, Faust or other bands of this genre would play in these days. It is a musical project by Ralf Beck and Sebastian Lee Phillip both trying to find a new sound based on German myths. Their soundscape is marked by repetitive guitar loos, electronic percussion, drums an sythesizers. Booming tom-toms and medieval-sounding flutes herald the start of the hunt. Whispering, reciting voices conjure up the spirits of the woods, while synthetic sounds and melodies and noices filt about before they are re-captured, structured and grounded by crystalline beats and pulsing bass lines. This record is like a trip backwards to the golden times of Krautrock played with a very modern style.
Glasgow. A city where new bands can grow and get reputations while playing live all over the year. Many bands could be named but less impressed me like them. As far as I investigated it is a band lead by Julie Eisenstein and Suse Bear. Their sound is based in classic (pub)-rock sound. Short guitar dominated songs that crawl into your ears and hardly get out of them. Surely not the next big thing but songs that might be timeless. Guitar pop, collage rock and pub rock in very different styles makes it a pleasure to listen to them from time to time.
Public Access T.V. is another band from NYC based deeply in song writing by Nick Lowe, Tom Petty and Ric Ocasec they made a record that was my musical mate during last summer. You can name it old fashioned or new pub rock but it is a music you can join at most places you are. Never boring, still fresh and timeless. I am glad that there were some guys over the Atlantic ocean that will carry the pure essence of music in their sound. PATV combines a lot of of influences from the last 40 years. Not only collage rock they have alos influences by British glam from the early 7o's. Sometimes I think I hear Marc Bolan in their songs. Therefore I give them a nem in my personal rundown for this year. Muisc for good times and it might work great sitting with a bottle of beer at the campfire.