50 years ago German krautrock band NEU! released their self titled and epic album with the same name. After leaving a first incarnation of Kraftwerk Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger with Conny Plank at the controllers one of the most influential albums of electronic music. Small, inconspicuous melodies, loose rhythms, the technical means available at the time and a large portion of improvisation created music that floats in the Neu! cosmos like the elf in fairytale land. Hallogallo is probably the best example how great this new music could be and it isn't astonishing that John Peel played this song so often that NEU! got well known in many countries except Germany.
From time to time I return to The Mekons a band that accompanied me from their first punk inspired songs to their country/Americana days. For me they were with their songs a rock in times where many things around me slipped away. Now I got the news that an album by Freakons will appear in the next weeks. Freakons is a collaboration by Mekons Jon Langford and Sally Timms with Freakwater a superb little band from the Americana scene. I only heard this song and it is very traditional country but Sally Timms stamps this song with her unique voice. I can't imagine a better start for me into this Sunday.
Come is an American alternative rock band that got a lot of critical acclaim in the early 90's but vanished out of my radar and I have to admit that I almost forgot them. I remembered them when I read about the release of the sessions they made for John Peel in 1992/93. Formed in Boston by Thalia Zedek and Chris Brokaw they made a unique mixture of blues-noir, post punk and heavy guitars. They were able to write dark and emotionally intense songs with kind of heavy guitars you heard seldom before and after. No wonder why J. Masics and Bob Mould praised them.
Another new band from Manchester came to my ears the recent days. Pastel is a five piece guitar band by cousins Jack and James Yates and influenced by bands like The Stone Roses, The Charlatans and The Verve. Of course it is nothing new or the next big hype but they are able to make songs in the tradition of shoegaze that makes me happy when I listen to them.
Sad news arrived two days ago that Mark Lanegan passed away too soon. Mark was a forming member of Screaming Trees, a band that stamped grunge in the early 90's. Unfortunately they didn't got the success like Nirvana or Soundgarden but for me they were one of those bands in these days that made the difference to many others in this genre. In 1990 he quit the job with Screaming Trees to release a solo album. The Winding Sheet, his first solo album showed him turning away from grunge and moving into a blues-rock based sound where his baritone made simple songs beauty.
Later he was a long time member of The Queens Of The Stone Age, a band that discovered adrenaline based rock music for young people and created a sound filed under stoner rock. Songs For The Deaf was one of those albums at the begin of the century that many people could commit. And Mark's powerful voice was the trademark of their sound beside heavy guitars.
After 12 years with the band and many problems with drugs and alcohol he released steady solo albums. None of them was bad but Gargoyle from 2017 was outstanding because it showed his musical spectrum form terrific ballads to Andrew-Eldrich-bombast to New Order inspired sound.
I am glad that I could see him live four years ago and he was in a good shape. The more I was shocked that I heard that he suffered a long time by an infection of Covid 19. We lost a steady basement in music.
After I typed down my yesterday's post where I wrote down my fears about what could happen in Europe when we are not able and willing to stop a new war in eastern Europe I came back to some songs that accompanied me during the last decades. Sand is a song originally recorded by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood in 1968 and one of the most underrated songs of this era. In 1985 German experimental rock group Einstürzende Neubauten by Blixa Bargeld made a cover version in the tradition of Nick Cave and the Bad Seed where he played guitar for a long time. Both versions were songs I can listen to almost every time.
When I turn on the news at the moment, the current news about the pandemic has moved into the background. Much more comes to the fore what is currently going on in Russia and Eastern Europe. We are moving backwards and my fear is that order will be restored before the Second World War. I really can't explain what Russian's aim is but I fear that will will go back to the cold war days. Maybe I worry too much but in these days it seems like the western world is going to ruin itself in person and the future will be not the same as we used to have.
A few years ago, when it was possible to visit an open air festival, I was surprised by Yin Yin, a band from Maastricht, Southern Netherland. They assured myself with their unique combination of bass dominated funk and groove with sharp guitars. The little tent they played in was full of dancing young people and surely an unexpected highlight of the festival. Now they will release early next month their new album The Age Of Aquarius. It seems that their sound didn't changed much. They still merge groovy sounds inspired by 60's/70's music played around Amsterdam. Psych-pop meets disco-beats and electronic sounds melting with funk elements. This sound could be played in many clubs if they will re-open once again.
I don't think there is a city in this world that has been sung as often as New York. That's what I thought a few days ago when I listened to Simon and Garfunkel's The Only Living Boy In New York City and thought this could be an idea for a new post. So I picked out a few songs that were different to the usual songs from The Pogues, Sting or Pet Shop Boys. Absolutely and eclectic and incompletely list based on my choice.
During the last years I featured Kombynat Robotron, a four piece freaked-out krautrock band from Kiel ´, Germany because they made a very unique spaced out recordings. I really love their songs because they make so beautiful retro sounds like less other artists in their genre. Atmospheric guitars on a free and solid Can inspired basement can take you to a short trip into another galaxy of sound. This one is from a lockdown-session month ago and it seems fresher than many other new releases I heard during the last months.
Two years ago German Kompakt label released a Velvet Desert Music a compilation of electronic sounds inspired by the soundtrack of 60's/70's Western movies. This was the time I first heard about Golden Bug and their collaboration with The Liminanas. Golden Bug is the stage name of Antoine Harispuru a French DJ and producer known for his talented combination of disco-tinged house and electronica. Now he released his fourth album Piscolabis. Listening to a few of his new songs there is one that stands above all. It is a collaboration with Japanese artist Vega Voga and combines a western approach to Japanese instruments with lyrical vocal samples, synth lines, percussion and sharp guitars. An eclectic mixture but fascinating.
One of those albums that I played often during last year was The Kempe Stone Portal by The Vendetta Suite. Not only because it was not only one sound. Gary Irwin, the mastermind behind this showed us his inspirations he got through the last decades. From Weatherall to The Orb he combined almost everything in between. Now a few songs were remixed and I can't get enough of the remix by David Holmes. He and Irwin shared a long friendship over a few decades and the result is a unique mixture of ambient and psychedelic sounds. One of the best decisions to relax after another hard day's work.
In 1981 Vini Reilly released as The Durutti Column one of the best post-punk albums ever. LC means Lotta Continua and is the Italian translation of continuous struggle and this album is one of my all time favorites. Vini's songs are so different to everything else that was released in the early 80's. An album full of guitar dominated sounds inspired by punk but also jazz, folk, rock and classical. He was one of the first artists who played at the Factory Club and signed by Tony Wilson for Factory records. That was the time when he got close to Joy Division and it is no surprise that he recorded The Missing Boy after Ian Curtis committed suicide.
In 2014 the Norwegian electronic duo Röyksopp announced that they well never release any album. Now, eight years ago they changed their mind and in April they will start their next project Profound Mysteries. As far as I know not an album in a classical style and more coherent songs and productions. But why the released a tracklist if it will not be an album I can't explain. Anyway, for their latest release Alison Goldfrapp, who was well known at the start of the century, joined them. Röyksopp's sound didn't changed much but Goldfrapp's ethereous vocals fit perfect to their electronic and pumping synths.
Ride guitarist Andy Bell is very busy during the last years. He worked as a producer and DJ and released under as GLOK albums that was played at my place often during the last years. Now it seems like he returned to classic songwriting and instrumentation on his new album. I only heard his first release of his new album Flicker, a string-soaked song you could describe as dream pop. And this is right a total turn away from what he released during the last years but if the rest of the album has the same quality it could be another highlight of this year.
A few days ago Jesse Fahnestock, a Swedish producer and DJ, introduced me to EKDK, a Spanish duo playing their own style of melodic techno. It is not the music I really join in but this song with it's steady moving groove and the voice of Amy Douglas captured me into a positive mood on my way to my daily work. Nothing more or less.
If an musician dies the papers are full of news about it and many epitaphs were written in the internet. But sometimes you miss this sad news. This happened to me when I searched for some news about The Singing Loins and I got aware that the mastermind of this band, Chris Broderick, died five weeks ago. He formed one of the best raw folk-punk bands in the late 90's. He was close to Billy Childish and the Medway Delta scene. I had always a big fondness to this little band because I really enjoyed what they made. The Singing Loins were just a duo playing stomping folk with a very punk attitude. Their lyrics tell of the everyday and the stories about people we all know very well. A friend once tried me to explain that they made songs to drink by and it is not totally wrong but every song you can sing with is a great song.
One of the newest hypes in musical press are the London based instrumental band Los Bitchos. I was afraid to join the hype and feature them at this place but listening to their songs I have to say that they were different to many others. Their unique sound of retro-futuristic surf guitars and galloping drums is one of these sounds you can play as a background for usual works at home or even in the office. And this is more than you can expect from a new band.
During the weekend I compiled an ICA for JC's long running series. And I have to say that it wasn't easy to select only ten songs by Neil Young from his more than 40 years lasting career. One of those that didn't reached the final list was Cowgirl In The Sand from Neil Youngs second album and is an example what kind of music we could expect from him and Crazy Horse. The album is filled with classics of overflowing guitar passages over a folk floor and a masterpiece of a rock song.
A few days ago I got the news that Big Thief, an indie-rock band with massive folk roots from Broklyn, NY, will release their forth album next week. I got aware of this band when they released their debut Masterpiece six years ago and I liked it much not only of their own way of playing indie-folk. It was more because of Adrianne Lenker, one of the masterminds of the band, and her voice. She was able to built a relationship between the listener and the songs sung with her fragile vocals. And she shows that again on various songs of their new album. A good way to start into Sunday.
If you're like to know how they are live - here is a clip of their well known song from their debut.
Pat Fish aka The Jazz Butcher died last year and was featured at this place several times. I always liked to listen to his songs because they often inspired me to dig deeper into his sound and world. You can say it is just another indie-pop band but I felt save listening to his voice. Now Tapete record released a new album posthumously with once more songs from his treasure chest filled with songs about Brexit-blues and existentialism hymns.
James Murphy released as LCD Soundsystem 20 years ago an epic dancefloor record with Losing My Edge their first single and I have to say it overwhelmed me when I first listened to it. It was an almost eight minute long tour de force of dance beats trying to educate his influences and a brief history of his own musical education. This song is always an inspiration to me what happened from the early Can to nowadays music. A monument is music for me.
Over the weekend I came back to The Frightened Rabbit that was active since over 20 years and formed by the brothers Scott and Grant Hutchinson when I picked up their second album Their Midnight Organ Organ Fight again after a couple of years and I have to admit that their songs are still beautiful and organic. Probably one of the best albums that came in the early 80's from the Glasgow scene. This album got a lot of critical acclaim and they were right. The Frighten Rabbit were a monument in Scottish music until now and their abilities of writing great songs couldn't be praised high enough. Timeless music for those who like to listen to great songs.