Wednesday 27 June 2012

Rainy jazz

Later this week, the infamous free Bergmannstraßen Jazz Fest will take place again. I'll be honest with you, most of the acts on the five stages will not appeal to the majority of our readers. However, because you may snub the event altogether, I felt compelled to let you know about a few things I find noteworthy. May the rain be with us!

4pm (Mehringdamm stage) - Mike Russell & Band: Originally from Washington, D.C., Mike Russell is a jazz and funk institution since the 1970s, when he played for Warhol among others. A lot of today's free jazz and world music groups remind me of his guitar sound and use of African rhythms. If you like it funky, consider this.
6pm (Nostizstraße theatre stage) - Blockflöte des Todes: I have featured this comedian musician before. His intelligent German lyrics with a satirical take on Berlin, relationships, and allsorts make me smile.

3pm (Zossener Str. stage) - Reverend Shine Snake Oil Company: This prompted me to post about the jazz fest in the first place. Reverend Shine Snake Oil Co play raw, party improvised jazz with a lot of garage influence. I honestly think this will be worth your trip out to the fest. With some good food in hand, see these cats do their magic.

Monday 25 June 2012


BBC 6music's 'Now Playing' programme yesterday revealed the 25 most blogged about artists so far this year according to data compiled by blog aggregator The Hype Machine. 

Glad we could serve the online community by having blogged about 45 % of these ourselves. 

1. Grimes
2. Lana Del Rey
3. Miike Snow
4. Beach House
5. Sleigh Bells
7. Lower Dens
8. Bear In Heaven
9. Santigold
10. Gotye
11. Azealia Banks
12. The Walkmen
13. Frankie Rose
14. Tanlines
15. M83
16. La Sera
17. Purity Ring
18. Andrew Brid
19. Diplo
20. The Shins
21. Father John Misty
22. Chromatics
23. Alabama Shakes
24. Sharon Van Etten
25. Twin Shadow

Saturday 23 June 2012

Quick review: Thee Oh Sees + La Sera

Some bands are really good on record but never quite live up to it live. With others, the records are okayish but the live experience is unmissable. La Sera are the former. Thee Oh Sees are the latter.

Hot and steamy - Thee Oh Sees
La Sera's songs are very well crafted pop pearls, influenced by girl groups and garage music. Live however, this just doesn't quite carry in the same way. It's good, but not as good as one would wish for. Highlight: a beautiful cover of Nirvana's Lithium.

Thee Oh Sees are the best live band on the planet right now. There is no other band around that gets the crowd moving this much from the moment of the first chord played. There is currently no other band where the venue gets trashed at every single gig. There is no band that brings with them this much fun and mayhem without contributing much to it themselves. They play and people go insane. Those boys just rock those songs live, period.

What a night. Fistfights in the audience, storming of the stage, girls shaking their hair wildly, boys jumping up and down, stage-diving when there is no real stage at White Trash, walking on the ceiling (for real), ripping pieces off the walls. You name it, we had it. 

If you want to get an idea of a Thee Oh Sees concert, read my review from last time, and watch this video from their gig in London last year.

Friday 22 June 2012

Mad July

Traditionally, July is a rather quiet gig month in Berlin. But have you recently looked at our calendar? It's insane and will see me out on the town more nights than I have time for really. Just some of the names on my list: Japanther, Screaming Females, Lee Ranaldo, Patti Smith, Ben Butler & Mousepad, ... (imagine voice getting quieter and eventually fading out)

Preview: the week ahead (25th Jun - 1st Jul)

We had the longest night of the year this week and the summer break started for school children. Summer should be truly here, though we don't really feel it. In the meantime, we have a highly intellectual music week ahead for you. Feel your brain cells grow while you attend any of the following performances.

Gravenhurst at Comet Club: We have featured Nick Talbot's project on Warp Records before. His melancholic tunes, sometimes quiet, sometimes rocking, appeal to any real fan of intelligent independent music. It's not experimental or ground-breaking, just plain good.

Embryo at Friedenskirche Charlottenburg: These experimental noise Krautrock legends are celebrated their 40 year anniversary a couple of years back. Not many bands can claim that. They are giving a rare couple of concerts in Berlin this week. Highly recommended.
Jack White at Tempodrom: Some might say that you either love or hate Jack White. I beg to differ. I think there is a Jack White lover in everyone of us. May it be his rebel streak that we admire or the quirkiness or his art and design sense. Or plain simple his music. Though always influenced by the blues, his music spans across genres and turns anyone from kids to football fans (what is that about?) to old men into fans. The man is giving a performance at Tempodrom tonight in support of his recently released solo record. A "you cannot miss" kinda gig, if you have the cash or connections that is.

Embryo at Sowieso: See Tuesday's preview!

VUK and All We Are at Schokoladen: VUK is a Finnish-American artist and reminds me of Björk crossed with African music. Pretty special. Support from UK based group All We Are. Be there before 8 - it's Schokoladen.
Wooden Shjips at Festsaal Kreuzberg: Finally, the week of the highly anticipated Wooden Shjips gig has approached. Psychedelic rock music at its very best. Dance, dance the night away. I cannot wait!!

XXL and Zea at Marie-Antoinette: XXL is basically a combined project of the groups Xiu Xiu and Larsen. A beautiful experimental extravanganza. When we refer to Zea, we don't mean the South Korean boy band but the Dutch electric solo project by The Ex member Arnold de Boer. J.'s gig of the week!

Kool Thing and NAADYN at Marie-Antoinette: Kool Thing is a Berlin based two-piece with an obvious Sonic Youth reference in their band name. As much as they seem to admire post punk, their music reminds me more of current female electronic artists Grimes, Zola Jesus or Coco Rosie. If you are into this thing, this band fits in nicely.

Quick review: New Order

I think a lot of people will testify that New Order holds a special place in their lives. In my case, New Order is the band that embodies my childhood. My mother was a big fan and I associate New Order's Blue Monday, the greatest dance hit of all time, with large-scale Goa parties by the Indian Ocean in the early mornings. So it was rather odd to see my mum off home to Belgium in the morning and then be invited to watch New Order at Tempdrom in the evening.
And what's not to like? Seeing Blue Monday or Joy Division classics like Transmission and Love Will Tear Us Apart perform live by those who wrote these pearls of music is a prizeless experience. Even if it's at a large venue, even if the light show was way over the top (albeit fascinating), even if a cinema screen size projection didn't quite fit the simplicity of Joy Division's Isolation. Even if. It's New Order / Joy Division live, in front of my eyes, playing those songs to perfection.

And just to see Stephen Morris solo would have made my week, month, year. What a drummer! Make love to me - now!


Sunday 17 June 2012

Preview: the week ahead (18th - 24th Jun)

Weird weather. Weird football. Weird gigs. The week is coming to an end and, quite frankly, I am glad it is. I am looking ahead.

Jah Wobble & Keith Levene at Volksbühne: The original bass player and guitarist of Public Image Ltd are playing those early PIL songs (i.e. the Metal Box album) for the first time in 30 years. How f**king exciting is that? All the reviews of their recent show have been through the roof amazing. A promising night in a wonderful venue.

Loup and Best Before Unu at bei Roy: A night of avant-garde free jazz and noise, mixed with weird electronic noise and visual art. For the experimental people amongst you.
New Order at Tempodrom: I once disallowed J. to preview Iron Maiden at Columbiahalle, arguing that they really didn't need the exposure through our blog. Haha, silly me. These days, I stick New Order in our preview. There. That's because New Order simply hold a special place in my heart, have got me through the fun times and the tough ones with their music. I am not one of the lucky ticket holders, this is simply too pricey for me, but I still felt this special gig deserved a mention.

Thee Oh Sees, La Sera and The Mojomatics at White Trash: Thee Oh Sees = noisy garage rock and on of the best live bands I know. Best gig last year, read my review! La Sera = Vivian Girl's side project, garage pop and incredibly good. (watch the whole video or you won't get the idea!) Finally, support from our local Italian rockers. What a night! See me there!

Guitar Wolf at Roter Salon: Japanese garage punk in the most brutal, noisy, yet kitsch way. They are considered legends already. This is going to be wild and rocking.

Review: Liars

I was torn whether go to to this or not. Initially, I wasn't sure I could afford it. Once I had the ticket I wasn't sure I could take it. Liars at Roter Salon seemed like such an odd choice, in terms of size and surroundings. Having forked out the cash and not being able to convince J. to go in my place, I was on my way to Mitte on a Sunday night, wondering how this was going to turn out.

Of course, you can never really go wrong with Liars, one of the best bands the current independent music scene has got to offer. Like so many incredibly good artists, Liars started out on the infamous Gern Blandsten Records, but they are on Mute these days. It is almost impossible to assign them a genre, but I have not yet met a person who had a bad thing to say about the band, be it their music or as people. I saw them perform with Health at Volksbühne a few years back and, well, Health. I cannot really appreciate any band in the same way when I've just seen Health perform. So this was another good shot at appreciating Liars as much live as I do on record. 

Thursday 14 June 2012

Mika's tonight

Due to illness, there has been a change in line-up for tonight's bash at Schokoladen. Mika's birthday bash will now instead feature the following artists performing:

M:Soundtrack presents:: Mika Risiko (Bln) + Lianne Hall (UK) + Jason & Theodor + Afterparty = Mika's Birthday Bash come drink & dance with us and DJ GLITZI GLITZI!

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Review: Peaking Lights

We somehow live in a time where seemingly nothing really new happens and everything appears to be just a remix of things that already exist. Countless bands reunite (just have a look at our latest reviews: Codeine, Refused, Unbroken,...), new bands sound like old bands, new bands look like old bands, people dress like people used to dress before, concert blogs use digitally altered photos that are supposed to look like old analog prints (*cough*), ... the examples are endless. There are documentaries about this, like the awesome video series "Everything Is A Remix". There are books about it, like "Retromania - Pop Culture's addiction to its own past" by Simon Reynolds. These are all things really worth some attention.

When I arrived at Festsaal Kreuzberg that night, Au Palais, the first of three bands of that evening, were already playing. I had no idea what they do and had never heard of them before, so I went in and had a look. To be honest it was a very short one, I couldn't even stand a whole song in there. They played something I'd describe as the most boring and superficial electro pop blah I had to listen to in a long time.
C* and I hung around outside and waited for Bear In Heaven, the next band, to start playing. I had also not yet heard their music but was told that they used to sound a lot different and just recently developed a more disco pop sound. I didn't stay inside for longer than about three songs. It was like a modern version of some 80s synth-pop band and not in any way interesting to me at all.
Probably my biggest problem with both support bands was that they were totally inoffensive in any way possible. They didn't break with anything, there was no detail that would catch my attention, I found it plain boring and trivial. So more time for us to spend outside chit-chatting about this and that until Peaking Lights finally started.

Now Peaking Lights are an illustrive example of this thing Simon Reynolds calls Retromania. Their music sounds almost exactly like the New Age Steppers (an awesome experimental dub band featuring Ari Up from the Slits, check them out!). Even their record cover looks like old 99 records cover. They use looped tapes and analog synthies on stage (and rant over how modern technology sucks when their tape player stops working). Basically they fit nicely in this new wave of "dub bands" (Anika, Beak>, Excepter,...) that turned up after this long time post punk hype. But does all this mean they're no good (no ESG pun intended)? I have to say it doesn't!

Sunday 10 June 2012

Preview: the week ahead (11th - 17th June)

Are you watching football or avoiding it at all cost? Either way, there are not too many exciting events this week but we've picked out a couple of sweet ones for you. Peaking Lights and Bear in Heaven - no, wait, that's the same gig. So f**king excited.

The Walkmen at Roter Salon: Powerful post-punk indie rock, simply really really good. You cannot go wrong at Roter Salon this Monday.

Peaking Lights and Bear in Heaven at Festsaal: Gig of the week, hands down. And boy, are we excited! Peaking Lights is one of those bands, once you disover it, it will never leave you. Beautiful tunes to wave sounds, with experimental ideas added. You can dance to them but you can also just sway and be content. Either way is perfect. Bear in Heaven, originally post-punk really, are a lot more commercial these days, sound like a straight import from the 80s, and will make you dance. Really good indie disco material.

Stab, No, Mülltüte and Diät at bei Roy: Stab and No are both dark chaotic and a bit crusty hardcore bands from the UK. For me the local support bands are more interesting this night, Mülltüte is a duo playing fast and pissed hardcorepunk with an undeniable Deutschpunk influence. Diät play heavily 80s influenced post punky stuff, think of raw early Joy Division. Check them out, they're by far one of the most interesting bands in Berlin right now!

Summer Kick Off Mini Fest at Schokoladen: mOck + The Dropout Patrol + Young Hare + Sissters + Ampl:tude + Petula -> a late afternoon (starts at 5!) with a fine selection of bands local to Berlin and one from Frankfurt.
Mundo Muerto at bei Roy: Old school chaos HC the way you go crazy to and feel the buzz. The kind of music that got me to appreciate live music in the first place.

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Review: Crocodiles (again)

Remember the Civil Civic concert and my subsequent review? Remember how disappointed I was that this amazing band, one of my absolute favourites, weren't given the chance to give a good performance because of the sound that night and other more minor circumstances? Remember my frustration?

Well, as sad as I am to say this, but this night tells a similar story. I was so hyped to go to this show. Having seen Crocodiles three times before, performing to perfection yet with raw rock'n'roll sound and antics, I couldn't wait for another party with this group, and to hear the new material. For this was the record release party for the new album. The excitement was almost unbearable. I'm a fan after all.

Saturday 2 June 2012

Preview: the week ahead (4th - 10th June)

May was our busiest month so far, in terms of hits on our site but also entries we posted. The outlook for June is definitely more subdued, and for a long while I was wondering why we weren't able to fill the calendar more for the month of June. Until my bf pointed out that maybe, just maybe, the lack of touring bands could be attributed to a European football competition taking place. Just a theory but a plausible one. Anyway, it's not as if we were getting bored. There are still enough fun concerts to satisfy the live music addicts.

Foreign Objects and Rat Rat Rats at bei Roy: Foreign Objects from Boston sound an aweful lot as if they were from Olympia, Washington if you get my gist. They are most definitely fans of Bikini Kill and play just that: lo-fi punk rock the way mid-90s girl punk bands used to do it. They consist of members from bands like Ampere, Libyans and Conversions and I like, a lot. This is going to be swell. Support comes from our local post punk duo Rat Rat Rats.

The Pirate Ship Quintet at Schokoladen: Instrumental music from southern England, mostly ambient but at times noisey, not unlike Mogwai to some extent. This is going to be special. And early. (show up 8pm latest. You should know the Schokoladen deal by now)
Smoke Fairies at Roter Salon: Electric folk blues duo from England that's been championed by Jack White and Bryan Ferry for some years now. They are posh and worth your attention. They will most likely go far.
Terror Bird and Allie at 33rpm record store: We have featured Terror Bird and her melancholic synth pop tunes before on the craze. Today, she is giving an instore performance at Berlin's newest record shop 33rpm, ahead of her show at Musichall tomorrow night.

Purity Ring at Katine am Berghain: Somewhere inbetween experimental and pop, Purity Ring is for those that dig that current Californian offish dance scene, with performers like Dirty Beaches and Jeans Wilder. I am a great admirer of that whole style of music, even if I can't quite put my finger on it, and I can only recommend to you tonight's gig at Berghain's Kantine.
The Mokkers + a bunch of others at White Trash: There is a little festival type thing at White Trash tonight that's not really my cup of tea, so I won't go into too much detail. But I did want to let you know that Berlin's coolest garage girl band The Mokkers are playing as part of this. I'm a fan and always try and give these girls some press, so here goes.
Terror Bird, Die Selektion and Voyvoda at Musichall: See Thursday's entry for Terror Bird! Die Selektion do 90s type wave techno, but arty and with trumpets. If you like to dance and you like it dark, this is for you because they remind me of New Order, in a really good way. Voyvoda, again, do wave music, but more Joy Division and less New Order. Good, too. This is a big night at Naherholung Sternchen. Be there or be square.

Julia Holter at Kantine am Berghain: There is a big hype surrounding this lady just now. Throw her name casually into conversation with music industry representatives and you are met with a waft of love and admiration. This girl's slightly melancholic yet positive tunes are beautiful and appeal to a large number of people despite the slight quirkiness.
Liars and Reptar at Roter Salon: Gig of the week, but what was the promoter thinking? Liars at tiny Roter Salon may just cause riots and we'll be there to witness it all. Because J. and I wouldn't miss this for the world. See us there!!