Thursday 31 January 2013

Yo! La Tengo

This just made my day. Yo La Tengo have released the video to "I'll Be Around". 

Not only is this one of the most beautiful songs, the video also has a such a tranquil beauty to it, you could play to it stressed business woman on their health insurance financed mother-child-countryside trips. It puts you at ease instantly, almost letting you forget the real world out there. Oh, and it's got Mac McCaughan of Superchunk in it, too. Kudos for that.

Oh my, we are excited about their gig on 13 March, you cannot even begin to imagine. Oh my!

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Wavvey news

My wishlist is coming closer to reality, one by one. Oh yes, one of my contemporary favourites, Wavves, have announced the release date of their new album Afraid Of Heights as 25 March. This means that they will tour Europe this year at some point, right? Remember their gig at West Germany or the one at White Trash? I cannot wait!

Here is a song of the new LP for your perusal:

The King on film

So it's warm today. But it's also grey and wet. Let's face it, winter is here to stay a month longer, in the least. Now that I got you down, let me pick you up. Following on from my review of the King Khan & The Shrines show, here is a video Gary shot for us. We actually got a better one a couple of songs later but this one beautifully shows the mayhem that went on, so I felt sharing this one with you in lieu of the other tamer one. Enjoy!

Monday 28 January 2013

Preview - the week ahead (28th Jan - 3rd Feb)

Sugarhigh got it so right on the weekend when they wrote: “So long, January. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. Nothing personal, but your departure means the light at the end of the dark, dreary, windswept, frigid tunnel is just that much closer [...]” Here is our CTM-heavy preview.

Matmos at HAU1: Eveyone loves Matmos, right? These experimental music fiends just get the masses to follow them. There is talk of the presentation of new material tonight, too. Yum!
Tropa Macaca, White Vogue and Thomas Zunk at Madame Claude: Talking of experimental music. It’s another Experimental Monday at Madame Claude tonight. With many folks attending CTM events, you may even be able to fit into Madame’s concert den. Norman recommends this gig and he knows his stuff. Boy, does he! So if you want to talk the talk show up at Madame Claude’s tonight.


Myrninerest at HAU1: This is so hard to explain if you are not familiar with but it is basically poetry. Dark, gruesome poetry, melancholic at times. Though there is of course an important musical element to this, it blurrs beautifully the lines between art forms, with the records’ artwork being pieces of art, too. A perfect CTM act as such.


Pantha du Prince & The Bell Laboratory at HAU1: Interestingly, we have previewed this exact combination of artistic effort before, back in September 2011, when Pantha Du Prince was curating an art exhibition in Berlin. Now, the art-com-music genius and his friends are performing at beautiful HAU1 for CTM and that sounds like a match made in heaven.

Instrumentarium II (Boris Hegenbarth and Felix Kubin) at HKW: “Instrumentarium is a performance series for musicians in separate rooms orchestrated by Berlin sound artist Boris Hegenbart in collaboration with various guest musicians”, says ctm. This time, Hegenbarth invited Hamburg based electronic musician Felix Kubin. Kubin has been around for like 20 years and by now he could easily be seen as one of Germany’s most well-known artists in several fields of electronic music, theater, performances and radio plays. He combines intelligent content with moments of dadaistic humour and his live shows usually turn out to be amazing parties. Don’t miss this!

Nicoffeine at Antje Ökesund: If you want to see something loud and noise rocky instead of all this artsy ctm stuff, Nicoffeine may be your thing. Read our last review and pay them a visit.
Sal Mineo at HAU1: Sal Mineo is a new project of Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart and Eugene S. Robertson, the singer for Oxbow. I have no idea how they sound like but I guess you could be expecting something experimental and vocal/words based. Judging from the two people involved, this just can’t be bad!

Gatekeeper and Demdike Stare at HKW: Gatekeeper, a New York based duo, present their newest record Exo this evening. They play electronic music that doesn’t sound unlike stuff from Zombie Zombie or Geoff Barrow’s newest project Drokk, think of analog synth sounds and krautrock references. Their newest record however sound a tad more contemporary and ctm describes it as a “play on late 90s club and commercial music.” Demdike Stare sound a bit more ambient but still in the vein of electronic music.

SunnO))) at Astra: The god of experimental drone is making an appearance in Berlin, after years of absence. This gets a few people's blood pumping and unless you have a ticket already, there is a good chance you will miss out on this.
The Ruby Suns at Kantine am Berghain: I am just going to make up a genre here for you: Silly Folk. It’s ok, you can credit me officially on this. Folk music with Mariachi influences and plenty of multivocal singing and clapping. Now I know I am not selling this but I am actually rather fond of these New Zealanders and it’s a nice break from CTM.

Quick Review: Display + Levitations + DIN

So despite the annoying rainy snow (or was it snowy rain?) I made my way to Tiefgrund for the first time ever. The location itself seems to have been around for a while and includes a cozy bar as well as a cinema. In about the last half year they started hosting small shows in their basement. It's a cozy and rather small two-room basement with a tiny stage, a bar, and some sofas, all in all a really nice place for smaller shows.

This time the evening started with some delicious vegan cakes and treats from the Fika crew. They're a group of people who organize tasty all vegan cake brunches from time to time and they got some mad baking skills. If we were a food blog I'd definitely review the shit out of them! It just took me until I was nearly home again to get that nasty raspberry stone out of my back teeth.

A part of the Fika crew plays in Levitations and they both also share one member with Display, a relatively new Berlin band that opened this evening musically. They're a four-piece and play punky but at the same time melodic music and sounded very 90s influenced. Think of Kill Rock Stars bands, the Lapse, Rainer Maria and some Le Tigre. I saw them for the first time today and I had no idea what to expect but I was positively surprised, they sounded really good!

Next up were Levitations. I have already seen them a couple of times by now and we also mentioned them several times on the blog. They're still very fun to watch. If you're into poppy riot girl punk like Sleater Kinney or Mika Miko, you should check them out. Also, they have got the best merchandise around, I still need to buy one of those shirts...

Last band of the evening were DIN. They're from Dresden and Leipzig and were sort of on tour together with Levitations. Another premiere for me, as I hadn't heard anything from them before. But yet again another positive surprise. They played noisy and experimental post-hardcore/post-punk stuff, rough vocals with lots of reverb, noisy bass and rather straight guitar and drums, plus some ambient effects in-between songs. It somehow reminded me of 80's bands like Swans (but less "mean") mixed with the noisy parts of Black Flag (like the B-side of My War noisy, I mean) but still maintaining a melodic approach. They were really good and I'll definitely watch them again if I get the chance.

What else is there to say? Cool bands, amazing cake, nice location... just seems like the most adequate way to end a weekend I guess. Oh and sorry, no photos due to lack of light, capable camera and ambition. I probably should have taken some photos of the cake at least...

Sunday 27 January 2013

Review: B/B/S

I don't know why, but January is very slow concert-wise. There was only one gig I was really looking forward to see. B/B/S at Monarch last Wednesday. B/B/S is a kind of a new trio of Berlin based expats, consisting of Canadian Aidan Baker, Italian Andrea Belfi and Norwegian Erik Skodvin. If you recognise these names you will probably know what to expect, if you don't know them I'll shortly tell you who they are. Well, all three are well known in the field of experimental music. Aidan Baker plays his drony guitar in Nadja and solo and you might have read about him a couple of times on our little blog. Andrea Belfi is mostly an experimental drummer, but also an electro-acoustic musican and composer who, for instance, played with David Grubbs or Stefano Pilia. The last one is Erik Skodvin, who plays from time to time under his moniker Svarte Greiner and is also part of Deaf Center. Both musical projects are subsumable under the term dark ambient. So, they are not the new neo-folk ensemble, instead they formed the most exciting trio in experimental and improvised music I know.

Everything started around a year ago when these 3 guys played together for the first time as a supporting act for A-Sun Amissa at West Germany. It was such cool performance that they decided to continue their work. Some shows were played and an album recorded. Last Wednesday's performance was originally planned as a record release party, but unfortunately Brick Mask wasn't ready on time.

Nevertheless, they played, in fact, two long sets. The first one started with a bowing ritual. A dark and droning tone appeared and Monarch's packed audience freezed. As Baker and Skodvin are rooted in doomy and dark music, distorted guitars are nothing uncommon. It was mostly drummer Belfi who set the tone. In the beginning more abradant and then more and more jazzy. The whole first set felt like the score to an unknown road movie by Wim Wenders and David Lynch. Scary, dusty, brutal and also tenacious.

The second set started louder and way more rock-like. Shorter than the first one but still intoxicating. For me, who is not a musician, I find it very interesting how they set the mood for their compositions. As Erik told me before, they did not have the time to rehearse, so everything was mostly improvised and it's unbelievable how good it sounded. All three gave each other enough space to develope an extraordinary unique style. In the end, Monarch's chatty bar crowd was getting louder and louder and it felt like it was part of the sound experience.

Too bad their debut record was not available this evening; I guess they could have sold a few of them. But I think everyone in the audience went home very satisfied, with or without Brick Mask. I did.

Friday 25 January 2013

Review: Lubomyr Melnyk

Sometimes you have to trust your friends. Two weeks ago I was told by a friend that this unbelievable pianist is playing in Berlin soonish and I defintely should go see him. My friend could not go and needed a report. First of all, I'm not a big fan of piano music. I know there was a big excitement about musicans like Peter Broderick, Dustin O'Halloran or Nils Frahm and this whole mordern classical genre, but to be honest this is completely not my cup of tea.

So I took another friend, who also had no idea what to expect, to see Lubomy Melnyk at Haus Ungarn (ex-hbc) last Friday. Freezing cold outside and pretty crowded inside. Waiting in the queue to get our tickets we checked our Wikipedia knowledge. Lubomyr Melnyk is a Canadian composer and pianist of Ukrainian origins who has pioneered Continuous Music in the late 70s. What? Okay, we'll see.

Shortly after seating ourselves Mr Melnyk appeared on stage and introduced his first piece and started playing. So, now here is the difficult part: how to describe this? I have no idea what happened and no words to make sure you would understand what we heard. It felt like waves of sounds running into cirlces. More drones than melodies. Very soothing and calming. Almost meditative. Sometimes it sounded like there was another piano played on stage. Spooky, but very beautiful.

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Review: King Khan & The Shrines

Every year, January bores us to bits. And every year, there is that one gig that makes up for the whole rest of the month, gets us excited, hot and sweaty. This year, the Maharaja of Soul returned to give us all some garage gospel music for the soul. In tow: an eight piece band called The Shrines. And Festsaal? Packed to the rim, rivalling that infamous Electralane gig, which was apprently the fullest Festsaal had ever been.

Having mastered the queue to the newly established basement cloakroom and survived the heat shock when entering the steaming concert room, it was immediately clear to us that only the far right side of the balcony had any space left for us. Unless we wanted to start climbing on top of people. Which we didn't. As the evening progressed, we sure were glad we had secured that balcony space because things would get wild.

Tuesday 22 January 2013

German Duo

What would the world be without favourite bands? And favourite bands releasing favourite videos? Moon Duo have released the next single "I Can See" from their current album "Circles" and, with it, a fantastic new video. As a little extra, the entire text has been translated and re-recorded in German. So very neat!

Superlate superquick review: White Fence

How did this even happen?? How could I not review this for a month? Truth be told, Xmas sucked me into the winter lull that I have been struggling to escape from ever since. But I am not going to leave you in the dark now, am I? I am still going to give a quick review of this gig at West Germany on a very cold winter's night.

Basically, the place was packed and hot, with little oxygen. The 60s sounding tunes of White Fence got people jigging. And it was good, at times psychedelic, and it was cosy. I'll be honest with you though, I enjoyed this, I truly did, but it lacked a little in the way of excitement for me. In a way, I could liken it to watching The Rolling Stones in the 60s but without their really wild numbers, and without Mick Jagger, if you know what I mean. 

But yes, a bottle of cola with friends, a chat, a jig, some garage tunes, heat. 'Tis was a good night. Yes, it was. 

Monday 21 January 2013

Preview: the week ahead (21st - 27th Jan)

Yaawwwwn, really, I am shattered, end of January, winter is dragging now. Also, the calendar is rather uninspiring this week. I have managed to pick out a couple of things anyway.

B/B/S at Monarch: Another one of Aidan Baker's million projects. I think we have reviewed this particular one before, but do a craze search to be sure. Either way, Adain Baker, Andrea Belfi, Erik Skodvin - you should know the kind of experimental music to expect. Monarch = perfect setting.
Eric Chenaux at Schokoladen: Slow and melancholic, yet uplifting through beauty, Monsieur Chenaux's songs transport you to another place, like a lot of his label mates on Constellation. Be early for that experience - Schokoladen and all.

Toro Y Moi at Comet: There has got to be at least one dance party in town this week and this is it - 70s funk style. Well, with some indie schmindie mixed in. Dance shoes at the ready - Chazwick Bundick is going to give you a funky, jiggy night.

Teams, VIV, Marie Dior and Time Wave Zero at Sameheads: The event to see and be seen at this week. A whole host of unusual and experimental music projects. I am especially intrigued to see Team and Sean Bowie perform under the name of "La Brea Tar Pits", not just for the name, i.e. the Los Angeles connection, but also because Teams, with indie dream pop label Carpark background, is always reinventing itself. Who knows what it's going to be like this time round?
The History of Colour TV at Antje Öklesund: If music could be likened to psychological disorders, this would be borderline syndrome. Berlin based THOCTV mostly lull you in with ambient sounds and dreamy, echoey vocals, just to then smash you up with a noise fest which seemingly comes out of knowhere. Get the hit this Saturday at Antje Öklesund.

Din, Display and Levitations at Tiefgrund: Punk, punk, post-punk and a large display of vegan cakes and treats. Sounds like a perfect Sunday afternoon to me. So remember to show up early - this is a matinée show - the organisers promise that the gig will be over in time to head over to Tocotronic at Lido, provided you have a ticket that is.

Friday 18 January 2013


Only a month to go until the Dinosaur Jr. gig and, oh boy, are J. and I excited! And as if we needed to pump our adrenaline even more ahead of the gig, the indie band of all indie bands has released this incredibly good video. I might just faint before ever making it into Postbahnhof!

Thursday 17 January 2013

Review: Anika

There is no doubt that Berghain is one of Berlin's most well-known and unique locations. Unfortunately I don't go there that often, mostly because I'm just not really into electronic dance music in the broadest sense. So this was only my second visit to Berghain, the first being a Bohren & der Club of Gore show some time ago and now again, the occasion couldn't have been more appropriate.

So after waiting in line in front of this massive concrete cube somewhere in between of train rails and huge hardware stores for a while I entered Berghain. Again I was impressed by the architecture and sheer hugeness of the former heating plant. In comparison to other Berlin locations, Berghain really sets the standards quite high.

When I climbed the stairs to enter the main dance floor and concert space, Zebra Katz were already playing. I had not heard them before and, honestly, I was not even prepared for a hip hop act opening this evening. But nonetheless I found this an exhilarant act to start the show with. Zebra Katz is mainly one rapper, this time supported by Njena Reddd Foxxx and an additional DJ. They played a pretty amped queer hip hop set that rested on minimalistic and deep beats. It reminded me of grimey stuff like Dizzee Rascal or probably even something like Missy Elliot. Their show was rather frolic and, well, let's say sexual including their lyrics and their lack of clothing. The audience took their performance really well and went quite wild in front of the stage. So they sort of did a perfect job as an opening act.

Monday 14 January 2013

YEAH! yeah yeahs

Oh wow, one of my absolute favourite groups on the planet is making a return with a new album, ready for my birthday in April. Yeah Yeah Yeahs! I presume this means we can see these geniuses live soon. I couldn't get more excited!

Saturday 12 January 2013

Preview: the week ahead (14th - 20th Jan)

Thank goodness venues, promoters, and booking agents have to make a living. This time of year, few bands tour and few people want to leave the house to trek across town for a gig. Yet we do get a good offering because dudes have to live. Hooray for that.

dÉbruit at Monarch: As part of the BeatGeeks series at Monarch, French electronic mastermind dÉbruit is going to give a sound performance and though we don't know at this stage whether he is just going to replay his own tunes or actually mix them live, the man is talented and worth your attention either way. A special Monarch night.
Trust, Anika, and Zebra Katz at Berghain: Canadian synthpop sensation for the cool kids, Trust, who in turn used to feature a key member of Austra, supported by BEAK> side project Anika, in turn produced by Geoff Barrow (of Portishead), plus rising star from NY Zebra Katz. If that isn't a supergroup evening for your dance pleasure, then I don't know what is. If you are still unsure, read J.'s review of the last Anika gig.

Toby Goodshank at Schokoladen: Antifolk, alt pop, singer-songwriter, call what you may, the voice and clever lyrics of Mr. Goodshank delight and will turn Schokoladen into a cosy hang out space yet again on Thursday. Read C*'s very brief review of Toby Goodshank's The Day Before Party performance if you feel like it.
King Khan & The Shrines and The Anna Thompsons at Festsaal Kreuzberg: The King of garage'n'roll is back, this time with big band Shrines and a big party promise in tow. Good support, too. This is just going to be thee celebration of fun with all kinds of crazy antics and you would be a fool to miss out, really now.

Crime at HomeBase Project (Thulestraße 54): Our local starlets are at it again, read a review of a recent concert to get the gist. For dance-hungry people.
Cold Specks at Kantine am Berghain: To quote myself: "The soulful voice of Al Spx and her band Cold Specks know how to write a good pop tune that you can listen to while doing the dishes or driving the car pondering or hanging out at your favourite bar." We seldomly feature soul pop but Cold Specks lures me in with her voice, she really does. Consider this.
Rover at Ramones Museum: Probably pronounced Rawvair by fellow Frenchmen, the theatrical voice and sound of talented Mr. Timothée Régnier will please those who like Arcade Fire and David Bowie for sure. And it's free. Be there early and enjoy.

Aidan Baker at SDW Neukölln: Berlin based Swedish artist HLG is inviting you to the opening of his visual micro exhibition "Eye Jazz" and Aidan Baker will provide the musical backdrop to the evening. A must go kind of thing.
Bobby Long at Wabe: The man Long is British but clearly likes Bob Dylan and that American sing-song and that's fine by us. If you fancy it quiet and cosy, head to Wabe. 

Petula at Ackerstadtpalast (Ackerstr. 169): Soft-spoken indie pop for those of you who like it mellow and a little emo. One of those relaxed end-of-week kind of affairs.

Friday 11 January 2013

Quick review: The Day Before Party

This has become such a great tradition and has now moved from Kim Bar to the bigger Grüner Salon: The Day Before Party. And many came to celebrate and thereby deflate New Year's Eve. The place was packed. 

The musical spectre had a wide range but never ventured from the quirky and odd. 

Toby Goodshank, becoming somewhat of a Berlin institution, played with his sister under the name of Double Deuce and delighted with catchy sing-song and, to top it off, a Guns'n'Roses cover. Now that is classy!

The Chap member Johannes von Weizsäcker presented his new project, Ziemlich Einfach, and first stunned and then delighted the audience with his German language electronica improv tunes, reminding us at times of Hamburger Schule. Fellow Chap musician Berit Immig joined for a couple of songs, one being a German language cover of a Chap song. Very good fun.

ampl:tude did what ampl:tude does and got peeps dancing with their highly fun infused analog synthie magic, though there seemed to be an additional member on stage compared to last time I saw them. Either way, there was a lot of moving around on stage with switching of instruments mid-song, which turned this whole affair not only into a dance party but into a visual performance, too.

This party just never lets you down. You meet all your mates a day before the biggie and you all have the fun you derserve in a relaxed environment. Until next year!

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Food diary

I once booked a Germany/Austria tour for one of my all-time favourite bands: Unwound. It was the 90s, I was very naive and, considering all, it went rather well. My memories of those three lovely people and the gigs on that tour are fond ones.

Today, I stumbled across one of the most interesting tour diaries I have ever witnessed: Unwound actually kept a food diary on their last tours, with commentary and all. So much fun. So if you ever wonder what diet those bands are on when they pass through town, wonder no more!

Unwound Food Diary link

Sunday 6 January 2013

XNormanX's top of 2012

Since I'm the new guy here I guess I have the right of being a little late with my most liked concerts of 2012. What a job. First the recollection and then the decision-making. Well, I've attended a few gigs last year and some of them were pretty boring but mostly I had my fun. So, here they are (in a chronological order).

  • New Blockaders, NK: British noise legends played their last Berlin concert. I didn't know what to expect and it turned out as a night I'm still crazy about. (Some photos here.)
  • Counterflows Festival, Ausland: 3 unbelievable nights in April with Kim Doo Soo, Michael Hurley, Josephine Foster and Decoy with Joe McPhee. I bought a festival pass on the first day and didn't regret it at all. Fantastic. (Again, some photos here.) 
  • Codeine, Festsaal Kreuzberg: I saw Codeine as a bored teenager in the 90s and didn't get their sound back then. How stupid. I was so happy to make up with one of my biggest mistakes. The perfect night with the sweetest band ever.
  • Charalambides, Marie-Antoinette: One day after Codeine and already the next big thing on my inner-list. A very intimate evening with Christina and Tom Carter. Unfortunately he was getting hospitalized afterwards with pneumonia, but is better now.
  • Julia Holter, hbc: Since I missed her sold-out show at the Berghain Kantine I was very pleased to hear of an extra show. A steamy show with a lovely performer and the scariest lightnings outside.
  • A L'Arme Festival, Radialsystem: The day I was seeing the line-up to this festival I was going mental. I mean the who's who of Jazz and improvised music was on the billing. From Peter Brötzmann to Irene Schweizer to Mats Gustafsson's The Thing playing with Neneh Cherry and Keiji Haino. The list goes on and on. I took some shaky photos
  • Swans, Berghain: My second chance to see mighty Swans. This time with my album of the year (The Seer) on the playlist. The most brutal show I've ever been to. My ears ringed for two days. Perfect!
  • Vomir, NK: Okay, one guy standing on the edge of the stage with a plastic bag on his head, the audience too and one hell of harsh noise is punching you unconcious. Intense is the wrong word to describe this night. It was a completely new experience for me. Some proof.

Preview: the week ahead (7th - 13th Jan)

Most people make new year's resolutions. I make holidays resolutions. Looking at the time ahead when nobody will bug me about anything, when not much is going on, when no work is calling, I make endless lists of things that are long overdue and will now get sorted: that big house clean, those sewing projects, the tax return, you name it. Then, when January comes and everybody feels positive about the plans they have made for the year, I bow my head in shame because my list is just as long as when the holidays started. Here are a few gigs to ease the pain of January.

Void of Sound and Valvet at Madame Claude: It is that thing of slow ambient sound scapes and matching video projections that Void of Sound, like many experimental music artists just now, does. But of course he does it very well or he wouldn't be in our preview. Not for the impatient but worth a go if you are into that sort of thing.

Candice Gordon and David Hull at Schokoladen: Read my review from Candice Gordon's support gig a couple of months back - I was rather impressed. This is the headliner, early at 8pm sharpe, and a personal recommendation of mine if you like your ladies bluesy as I do.
Young Dreams, The 1975 and The Royal Concept at Lido: Young Dreams = indie pop with an electronic element, for fans of twee but also for those who like the current wave of dream electronica. Stemming from Norway, they actually made it as "New Band of the Day" on The Guardian once. A nice treat so early in January.

A Guy Called Gerald at about:blank: 90s type electronica and fun to dance to. Some world influences but rave really if you know what I mean. Dance the night away.
Mushy and Black Tar Jesus at Madame Claude: Dark and depressing wave music, really rather fantastic but don't expect to come out cheerful. Gig of the week I say.

Anni Rossi at Schokoladen: Ms Rossi is a singer-songwriter, sure, but this lady uses a violin and that makes her special. Sounds phony but it's true, mainly because of the skill she applies to that violin. Well, that and great songwriting skill and a beautiful voice. We seldomly recommend singer-songwriter gigs, there are so many out there, but 4AD protégée Ms Rossi will just be worth your while. Schokoladen = early gig.

Sorry Gilberto at Ballhaus Ost: Indie pop performance as part of the British Shorts Film Festival that Sputnik Kino is staging. A nice mellow pop way to leave the week behind.

Friday 4 January 2013

What's in store for 2013 pt. 1

On an irregular basis, I give an overview of gigs in the near to mid-term future that are getting us excited. With 2013 just started, this is as good a time as any to preview the months ahead.

King Khan and the Shrines at Festsaal: The King is back, this time with big band Shrines and a big party promise in tow.
Cold Specks at Comet Club: The soulful voice of Al Spx and her band Cold Specks know how to write a good pop tune that you can listen to while doing the dishes or driving the car pondering or hanging out at your favourite bar.
Trust and Anika at Berghain: Canadian synthpop sensation for the cool kids, Trust, supported by BEAK> side project Anika, in turn produced by Geoff Barrow (of Portishead)

O. Children at Monarch: Mistakenly previewed by myself for January last week due to a double entry in our calendar, the excitement for this très cool dark wave gig is now mounting.
King Dude at tba: The deepest voice in dark folk right now and a gig with a promise.

Sunn O))) at Astra: The god of experimental drone is making an appearance in Berlin, after years of absence. This gets a few people's blood pumping.
Ducktails at Haus Ungarn: Seldomly do all four contributors to The Craze agree on one gig as a must-see but in the case of Ducktails, we are all looking forward to their post punk dream pop performance.
Dinosaur Jr. at Postbahnhof: The epitome of indie rock genius, the Dinosaur is back in action.
SchnAAk at West Germany: One of J.'s favourite return to town. We just know this is going to be a great party.
Fabulous Diamonds at Monarch: Electronically produced, extremely slow sound scapes of the mesmerising variety with echo vocals. A trip.

Metz at Berghain's Kantine: Guitar music is finally getting popular again and who better to love than Metz? So thing of the moment, but so deserved and hopefully for a long while.
The Men at Festsaal: In a similar vein to Metz, The Men have been working hard on making post punk guitar music cool with the kids again. Lock'n'loll.
Teen at Comet Club: My new discovery and addiction. Led by the keyboard player of Here We Go Magic, these ladies do dreampop or shoegaze, call it what you may, in the most coolest manner. 
Rocket From The Crypt at Festsaal (supposedly): RFTC in Europe? In 2013? This has created such waves of excitement, peeps from all over Europe are travelling to Berlin to cramp into Festsaal. We predict, therefore, that this will be moved to a bigger venue in due course. We also recommend that you get your tickets fast, just in case. 
Psychic TV at Festsaal: Psychedelic wave pop and an institution. Get those dance moves on.
Konono n° 1 at Festsaal: Experimental Congolese indie music is probably a rarety. It's so good to be given the chance to see performances of good music from Africa, a continent that just oozes with good music. And this group is especially good.
PTTRNS at bei Roy: Our favourite analogue dance music troupe are back with a new album this year, throwing a great big party at Roy. 

Mudhoney at Festsaal: Grunge fathers are making an appearance, and would you know it, neither J. nor I have seen them perform to this day. So we will be there, filling a gap in our concert lists, and probably rocking out hard.
Crystal Fighters at Lido: Redefining world music, this Spanish-British rhythmic indie pop group will definitely get the crowds dancing. 
Swans at Volksbühne: If Volksbühne is not a great setting for this, then I don't know what is. Exciting!

Good bye 2012, hello there 2013

2012 closed, I thought I would do a little look back on the past 12 months on The Craze. 

It was a big year for us, in which we sort of grew up, new design and all. Not only did The Craze double its monthly pageviews in 2012, but we also increased our output considerably and started feeling a sense of responsibility towards our readers. XNormanX joined us as our third writer and Gary Walker became a regular picture contributor.

One of the things I set out to do with this blog was to not limit myself to musical genres but be open to whatever, as long as I deem it interesting and good. I think we have really achieved that by now and seem to have an appreciative audience for this. The most read posts on The Craze in 2012 were the following reviews:

1) Codeine 
2) Jack White
3) Father Murphy + Mysticats
4) Refused
5) Excepter
6) Peaking Lights

Looking ahead, we have some great things planned but overall, we are probably going to run along with how we have been running. We like it that way. 

This month, we will reach our 50,000th pageview. Expect the announcement of a celebration for this soon. We are also in talks with illustrators to add some visual variation to the blog. There will of course be competitions and the likes again, and we may even start throwing in some interviews if we feel like it. Cannot wait for another fantastic year with The Craze!

Thursday 3 January 2013

Quick review: Converge

On a short, light note, Gary (our in-house phone app photographer) and I went to see Converge at SO36 the other day. It had been around 17 years since I last saw them play and we felt, since they have been mentioned a couple of times in the press this year, that we should check them out. 

Well, we came away a little disappointed. Given the recent hype surrounding the band we expected great things. Instead, we time-travelled to 1996. It may as well have been Snapcase or Battery on that stage. Don't get me wrong - I liked all three of those bands in 1996, I actually did, in particular Battery. But I truly feel that that sound and look is a little dated, really dated actually. It's a fun trip down memory lane - everyone there looked like back then, with self-applied anti-McDonalds and vegan patches, with baseball caps and band shirts - but we really don't feel that it holds up with the dynamic noise music scene these days.  

The band performed like those ol' HC bands do and the crowd was a little stiff but enjoyed themselves, the die-hard fans pleased. So it was fine, it wasn't a bad gig at all. Five songs in, however, we felt we had seen what was to be seen, and we moved on to Festsaal and Mission of Burma. And that is another story.