Wednesday 27 February 2013

Review: Ducktails

A friend of mine told me a while ago about his theory (he called it curse) why bands are losing it when they change to UK indie label Domino. He didn't have an example but it did make sense back then, don't ask me why. Well, Ducktails are on Domino now and maybe that could be his piece of evidence. So, I went to their show last week to see if my friend is right or not.

I first saw Ducktails a couple of years ago in this small gallery venue in Schöneberg called White Rabbit (oh, I miss that place). Back then Ducktails were only Matthew Mondanile. He had released a handful of tapes and his self-titled album on Not Not Fun had just been released. His psychedelic surf guitar sound was the soundtrack of my summer 2009 and when he joined Real Estate everything was perfect. With an unbelievable ease, he produced one sugar coated popsong after another with Ducktails or Real Estate. I don't know why, but I ended up losing interest in his solo projects even though Landscapes and III: Arcade Dynamics were solid records.

A month ago, Matt released his newest record The Flower Lane and this time with a proper band. So, their Euro tour came right on time to promote this record and to convince me again. Haus Ungarn (ex-hbc) was not seated like usually, so I guess they expected a dancy crowd and from the beginning on everyone at least shook their head.

Their new sound was kinda different than I had expected. Very 80s like with loads of keyboards, even though there was a second guitar player in the band. It reminded me strangely enough of American Psycho. I instantly saw hundreds of pages elaborating Ducktails' career or maybe it was just my inner Patrick Bateman who urged to kill most of the audience.

Fortunately his trademark guitar sound with all the delays and reverb hadn't vanished, but, to be honest, even though the songs were very dangling and catchy, I forgot them immediately. Maybe because of the bands performance. Is being bored the new cool? They looked so pale while playing the songs, it was unbelievable. Only Matt showed some excitment from time to time. An hour went by and I felt well entertained and when they played their hit Kill The Vibe as encore I was kinda pleased.

One week later I'm still not sure what to think about The Flower Lane and my friend's Domino theory. And after seeing their new video to Letter To Intent, I'm pretty sure I have to play this record more often in the summer because I'm really sick of these grey days.

Monday 25 February 2013

Preview - the week ahead (25th Feb - 3rd Mar)

Sorry for being THAT late, we're all kind of busy right now. Hopefully you figured out how to check our calendar on your own, as usual there's some nice stuff in there that we don't cover here. So despite being late and somewhat shorter than usual, here's a preview for the week that just started.

Umberto, Moon Wheel and Farfour at Urban Spree: Umberto are nice, they play electronica influenced music that sounds like analog synthies mixed with some contemporary sounds and motifs. If you like Gatekeeper, Zombie Zombie and bands alike you’ll definitely like Umberto. Moon Wheel sound like an interesting mix of drone and electronic music that could really work nicely live, it’s more minimal than what Umberto do but fits quite good musically. Farfour also kind of sound alike, they’re a bit more atmospherical and dreamy and less beat oriented. I’ve never been to Urban Spree and have no idea what that location is like. You’ll find it at Revaler Straße 99, pretty much around the corner from Cassiopeia and Astra.

Big Eater and Display at Knochenbox: Big Eater, a new Berlin band featuring Al Burian from Milemarker and Challenger. They’re releasing a tape that night which you can listen to on their bandcamp site. Think of post punk stuff with some funky grooves. Also playing are Display which we recently reviewed here.

Aidan Baker and A-Sun Amissa at Schokoladen: Another Aidan Baker show, this time he’ll be playing at Schokoladen. Support are A-Sun Amissa, prepare for an evening of atmospherical drone music.

Masha Qrella at Hans Otto Theater (Potsdam): Masha Qrella plays a show in Potsdam this Friday. Might be worth the out of town travel!

Metz and Radio Burroughs at Berghain Kantine: Metz, the noise rock hype from last year, visit Berghain Kantine for a show. So this is your chance to check out if they live up to the praise they get. Support are Berlin based Radio Burroughs of whom you probably already heard.

Maserati, Günther Schickert and Thisquietarmy at BiNuu: Maserati and Günther Schickert played Berlin together two years ago, and although we weren’t really convinced of that show (review here: this could be of interest for some of you. Maserati released a new record since then and changed some things and sounds, so if you’re into krautrocky electronica post rock, give them a try. Thisquietarmy is a regular acquaintance of Aidan Baker, so if drony ambient guitar noise is your thing, here you go.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Review: Dinosaur Jr.

I went to see Dinosaur Jr. play at Postbahnhof yesterday. I had never seen them before, so it was safe to say I was looking forward to it. Also I was lucky and got permission to take photos from directly in front of the stage for the first three songs. I had not taken concert photos in a while and I'm also not really into it anymore (plus I don't even have all the fancy professional equipment to do it) but, still, the photos probably turned out a bit better than our usual mobile phone snapshots.
Dinosaur Jr.

Dinosaur Jr. have been with me for quite some time now. When I was significantly younger and way more into indie-rock and grunge music, I used to listen to them all the time. Green Mind was the first Dinosaur Jr. record I ever bought and I'd still count it as one of my favorites among their whole output of albums. Since back then, they have released a considerable amount of other records and have gone through some line-up changes and phases of inactivity. Since 2005 they are back to the original line-up, featuring J Mascis on guitar and vocals, Murph on drums and Lou Barlow on bass. Every present Dinosaur Jr. member has a history in other well-known indie-rock bands besides Dinoaur Jr. Murph used to play for the Lemonheads and Lou Barlow, besides his great solo records (note to self: listen to Emoh later on), founded Sebadoh. J Mascis mostly kept doing what he always did, recording Dinosaur Jr. records and also releasing some solo material that was musically not really that different from many Dinosaur Jr. albums.

Dinosaur Jr.
So considering the whole wave of reunion bands today, Dinosaur Jr. sort of have a special place. For me they never really went away. I became more and more interested in music that wasn't exactly indie-rock, so I also didn't pay that much attention towards that kind of music anymore.
When Dinosaur Jr. released Beyond in 2007, their first record after officially getting back together again, I was curious and gave it a try. And somehow it worked again. It proved again what I always liked about Dinosaur Jr: The combination of almost cliché rock music parts - fuzzy distortions, endless guitar solos, heavy bass and drums - with delicate melodies that kept the music interesting and gave it a huge pop music appeal. Dinosaur Jr. have never gone after grand rock gestures, they have rather always been the "nerdy guys" playing quirky music for other "nerdy people".
Dinosaur Jr.
From this point of view, Dinosaur Jr. were really good yesterday. They managed to make me remember songs and records that I used to listen to a long while ago and they did so by just being the band they have always been. Refreshingly unpretentious and without much ado they just played their music.
When they started to play, it seemingly took them (and also me) some while to get into it, but after a couple of songs the sound became great and they appeared to become more and more comfortable. The setlist contained a nice mixture of songs from different records and periods, which I found pretty good.

Dinosaur Jr.Yet, I have to say that at some point I got a bit bored. There were just too many songs that were like fillers to me and that's a problem I have with many Dinosaur Jr. records. There are always a couple of amazing tracks on them but the rest doesn't really stick out. Also, I got reminded again of why I'm not really into "rock" music anymore, there's just little variation and the energy they transported during about the first half of the set gradually got lost more and more. I don't want to say this was a bad show, I just think that after a while I had seen and heard enough.

Dinosaur Jr.All in all they played about 90 minutes and finished with two encores (one of them being their classic cover of The Cure's Just Like Heaven, which I didn't even recognize at first) and the last song finally erupting in an endless wall of fuzzy feedback.

Dinosaur Jr. delivered what I expected they would and although this probably wasn't the show of the year I was glad to have finally seen them. When I got home, I listened to Green Mind again and it still works.

Quick Review: Maher Shalal Hash Baz

After endless amounts of premieres last week at this year's Berlinale another one happened Monday night at Marie-Antoinette. The first German show of Japanese band Maher Shalal Hash Baz. And since I'm a big fan of premieres I'm pretty glad I didn't missed that.

Maher Shalal Hash Baz, which is a phrase in a biblical passage and means something like plunder quickly, is actually only Tori Kudo who, since the early 90s, collaborates with lots of musicians to create a strange and weird version of folk. A friend of mine recommended Monday's concert although he never heard a single tone of them (like myself) before. So, we met at one of Berlin's nicest venues and were both pretty curious and excited.

A large group of musicians appeared on stage in front of a packed room full of Berlin's Japanese community and right from the beginning Tori Kudo was the center of attention, as the conductor, singer or guitar player. His fellow band mates played his compositions, which seemed like they were inspired by mistakes, naivety and dilletantism featuring elements of psychedelia, pop, folk, jazz and experimental music. Every tune they played sounded more like a sketch than complete finished song, but that's probably the catch of Kudo's music. With every out-of-tune guitar tone, wonky vocals or other rough edges you always found charming and fragile beauty in their dreamy melodies. And the fact that every song title was translated into bumpy German underlines my perception.

Okay, I have to admit it was kinda exhausting for over an hour, but totally worth it. I'll definitely check out their recordings. And since everyone liked their performance (that's a guess) I'm pretty sure they will return sooner or later. 

Monday 18 February 2013

Preview - the week ahead (18th Feb - 24th Feb)

Thanks to everyone who attended our lovely tea party yesterday and to our cake baking and decoration crafting friends. And of course special thanks to Grinni and West Germany for making it possible. We're probably going to show you some pictures here sometime soon. Until then, here's the preview for the upcoming week.

Esben & The Witch at Bi Nuu: Dark and 80s influenced electro indie music with very distinctive female vocals. Think of bands like Austra and Zola Jesus and you sort of get there. They’re really good at what they’re doing so check them out if you’re into stuff like that.
Maher Shalal Hash Baz at Marie-Antoinette: Heavily drawing on the reference of Velvet Underground, as well as reminding me of Belle & Sebastian at times, this Japanese indie pop project is sure to make your night a pleasant one. A treat.

Dinosaur Jr at Postbahnhof: Well I guess we don’t really have to introduce Dinosaur Jr to you. They’re like the legends of fuzzy indie rock and have been around since 1984. With some intermission in between they’re back to the original line-up and are releasing records and playing live shows again. They’re also officially the only band on the planet who are still allowed to play guitar solos. We’re so looking forward to this!
the Chap and p0nk at about:blank: We mentioned the Chap here a couple of times already. They play experimental but still danceable indie music and are well known for being an entertaining live act. Now they’re playing a show and announced it to be the last one for a probably long time. I don’t really know if that’s supposed to be like an unofficial break up or really just a long term pause of band activity, anyway if you haven’t seen the Chap until now - this is your (last?) chance!

Ducktails at Haus Ungarn: Ducktails started out as a band on Woodsist records and feature a member of Real Estate. Now Ducktails sort of combine the indie pop approach of Real Estate with the lo-fi folk and experimental approach of many Woodsist bands and create some pretty nice music. They just released a new record, which is actually much more of a pop record than their earlier stuff, so I guess you could expect a decent amount of new material, hopefully mixed with some older songs.

Sigur Ros at Tempodrom: It’s a Sigur Ros show in a huge tent. What else is there to say about it other than that it’s probably going to be good?

Bdybldng and Blank Pages at Schokoladen: Schokoladen celebrates it’s first year of not being evicted and it does so with some experimental noise rock and some Wipers style melodic punkrock. Afterwards there will also be dancy party music by the Gewalt Disney DJ Team. Sounds like a neat way to get ready for the next year of Schokoladen’s existence!

Good morning Thurston

Perfect morning music from Sonic Youth veteran Thurston Moore's new band Chelsea Light Moving. Let's hope they are visiting Berlin soon! Love.

NPR online streaming link for the whole album.

Sunday 17 February 2013

Cake or death - today at West Germany at 4.

Today 4 pm Tea Time!

Hey everybody, today's the day. J., XNormanX and I will be setting up a cake and tea buffet at our beloved West Germany from 4 pm for a couple of hours or so. There will be music from XNormanX's fantastic record collection and West Germany are opening their bar for the occasion, too. 

Entry, cake and tea is free but donations are very welcome. The bar will of course need your petty cash.

Do join us, and if it's just for a few minutes to say hello. We are celebrating our unexpected growth over the past months and we would really want you to be part of it. And anyway, we don't need a reason to eat cake and drink tea, we'll make up any excuse.

See you later!

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Some nice shows soon

Puschen is on fire and announced some pretty neat shows in the near future. Even more reasons to anticipate spring season and there is some potential gig of the year stuff going on.

First of the shows takes place already on March 18th and it's no other than Oneida playing. I'm looking forward to seeing them again live since their last appearance at Puschenfest 2011 (read our review of that here). They play at Comet Club so this is going the be much smaller than the last Festsaal Kreuzberg show. Facebook event here.

The Men come back to town, if you missed their last show at West Germany you can now catch them play Festsaal Kreuzberg on March 22nd. Here's the facebook event.

Suuns, who also played at Puschen Fest in 2011 now play a show at Comet Club on May 5th. Again facebook event here.

And last but in no way least one show I'm so excited about since I missed their last Berlin appearance. Mount Eerie are visiting Festsaal Kreuzberg again on May 13th. Check the Facebook event here.

Also not Puschen related but nonetheless great news: Woods released the final dates for their May Euro Tour and they play Comet at May 16th. See the rest of the dates here.

Last minute Martha

I am working on the Berlinale this week and my head has rather been filled with film. Though we all know, film and music are not exclusive of each other. Not only do I get to see the one and only Mr. Nick Cave tonight, himself involved with film and fiction on a regular basis, but this Saturday, Mrs. Martha Wainwright (yes, thee Martha Wainwright) will take an evening out of her busy Berlinale schedule to give an exclusive performance at Haus Ungarn (ex HBC). Show up early to make sure you get in and feel (hear) the magic.

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Es Hängt Ein Pferdehalfter An Der Wand (What Is Love)

Yeah yeah, we mostly do reviews about Berlin concerts, but from time to time we're seeing music-related things we couldn't stop thinking about. Like this small exhibition "Es Hängt Ein Pferdehalfter An Der Wand (What Is Love)" I visited last Saturday at Rumpsti Pumsti, a Neukölln record store.

The Berliner Mario Passarotto collected all 430 records which topped the German charts between 1953 and 1993 and displays after 15 month work now the most important and maybe most frightening record collection in Germany. The German music record charts were established in December 1953 with the first ever Number 1 record being "Es hängt ein Pferdehalfter an der Wand" performed by Die Kilima Hawaiians. The last Number 1 record which was exclusively released on vinyl was "What Is Love" by Haddaway in 1993.

When I first heard the concept of this exhibition I thought, okay, there are record covers on a wall. That's it. But that's not all. This is unbelievable history and pretty private too. The first 20 years are funny, German pop music, sometimes a Beattles song, but honestly I've never heard most of them before. The mid 70s Number 1 hits are much more familiar, maybe from the radio during an endless family trip. With an older sister my musical education started in the early 80s. I have no idea how often I had to listen to Pierre Cosso & Bonnie Bianco's Stay and let's not forget A-ha. Our shared room was decorated with Morten Harket posters everywhere. And in a weak moment I thought I like them too.

Anyway, from the mid 80s my own memories started and this is where the real fun begins. Every song, and I'm pretty sure I knew every single song, has its own story. Holiday camp disco, first mixtape or the song, which crashed down the wall. A collection of awkward secrets and guilty pleasures.

If you wanna go to see this, make sure you are going with someone older or younger. Everyone has a different story to these songs and you can spent hours of laughing and regretting. What a wonderful idea. Open till early March. Go!

P.S. There is an interview with Mario unfortunately in German about his exhibition. Read it here.

new Liars video

Check out the new Liars video below, according to the band it's like the "basketball version of the Sisyphos myth". We still have their last live appearance at Festsaal Kreuzberg in good memory, read our review from that show here and let's hope they'll be back soon!

Monday 11 February 2013

Quick Review: Schnaak + Opa

So I went to West Germany last Friday to see Schnaak again and Opa for the first time. Turned out pretty nice.

Opa are a relative new band from Berlin, consisting of 2/3 Distraction. They started rather grungy and noisy with lots of distortion and a good portion of 90s indie rock. After about half of their set they switched instruments and with that also pretty much their whole sound. Now it reminded me of surfy lo-fi garage punk with some poppy and fluffy melodies thrown in here and there. Sometimes I had to think of No Age, although that also doesn't really grab it.

After them Schnaak were up next. I've already seen them before and they made a solid place in my 2011 top of the year live bands list. Also their last record is simply great, so I knew this was going to be good again. I wasn't disappointed, Schnaak are just an amazing live band. They're so fun to watch and they pretty quickly made the audience dance and joke around and enjoy themselves. What makes them so great is the fact that they so easily combine different musical influences and styles and still create something coherent. There's noise rock and african rhythms, there are heavy parts and there is a huge experimental underline. Despite the fact that they're "just" a duo, their music is pretty complex but yet they manage to keep it surprisingly accessible and for great parts even dancy and "groovy." I was glad to have seen them again and although I don't have that much to write about it, this band keeps being one of the best live bands around and I look forward to the next Schnaak Berlin show.

Edit: Someone just posted a video of the whole Schnaak show here in the comments. Thanks for that, you can watch it here:

Orchestrated geniuses

I still have a birthday card a friend once gave me that reads "Beck will be yours one day." When I was younger, I was convinced I was going to meet Beck in person one day and we would get married. Then I found out he was devoted to the church of Scientology. Dreams shattered. Here is the man who unknowingly broke my heart, performing the song of another most admired artist of mine, David Bowie, in the most elaborate setting with over a hundred musicians to an audience of only 160. It's for a car brand and we shall not get into that any further. Just let me tell you, if there was only one gig I could have attended this year, it would have been the recording of this:

Fun fact: The conductor you see at the start is Beck's father.

Sunday 10 February 2013

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

Berlin is busy. We are busy. Yet, we could not miss the chance to celebrate. So apart from your below listed, interesting evening program, make sure you also go to our Craze Tea Time afternoon on Sunday. We would love to hang out with you, cake, tea, and good music! See you there! Oh and as always, check the calendar, there's much more going on this week than we feature here in the preview.

Birthmark (Nate Kinsella) house show: the guys from m0ck are organizing another house show. This time Nate Kinsella aka. Birthmark will be playing, you may know him for being a member in bands such as Joan of Arc and Make Believe. Check the m0ck homepage for more info on where the show is an how you can take part.

Birds in Row and Jungbluth at Cassiopeia: Chaotic and dark hardcore from France and Germany. Jungbluth are ex-Alpinist, expect this to be an intense live experience!

Maps & Atlases  at Magnet Club: Clever and poppy math indie rock, Maps & Atlases are fun. If you’re into fluffy melodies and tight rhythm and guitars, check this out.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds at Admiralspalast: the kings of dark and melancholy alterntive pop/rock are back with a new record to promote. Don’t think we need to say much more about that.

Fraktus at Astra: I’m pretty sure by now everybody knows who and what Fraktus is. For those who don’t, Fraktus are pretty much the godfathers of Techno. Their show last year at Festsaal Kreuzberg was totally sold out, so here’s your next chance to see them, although in a less cozy surrounding.

Bosetti/Nosova and Vandeweyer/Gräwe at Ausland: Two very different music projects. Ausland organizes improvised and experimental concerts on a regular basis, this time an electronics/drums/voice project meets a vibraphone/piano project. There’s some more info on the artists on Auslands homepage, be sure to have a look if you have something for echtzeitmusik.

Batalj and Opa at West-Germany: This is probably our gig of the week. Batalj is a chaotic hardcore/grindcore/screamo band of three Swedish/Australian expats living in Berlin at the moment. This is going to be their record release show and we’re sure this is going to be wild. Support will be Opa again, something else to look forward to.

Toby Goodshank at Sofa Salon: Not in the mood for chaotic wild hardcore? Why not go see Toby Goodshank again. We already wrote about him a couple of times so you should know the deal. Nice anti-folk stuff from a former Moldy Peaches member.

The Craze Tea Time at West Germany: As we mentioned before, we’re celebrating our passing of 50.000 views on the blog with an afternoon of tea, (vegan) cakes and some good music. We’re starting at 4pm, drop by and hang out with us!

Thursday 7 February 2013

Review: Tweak Bird + Shandy Mandies

What if punk had never happened? Would we perceive music differently? Frankly: who knows. But I personally imagine independent music would evolve around the sound of groups like Shandy Mandies and Tweak Bird.

Tweak Bird got their Berlin "break" last year when they played as part of fashion week. Apparently, not that many people attended the solid performance. Oh how things have changed in the space of a few months! This time round, West Germany was packed and lively. Several people were referring to their label, a famous skate wear brand, leading to the conclusion that the label pulls a crowd alone. But it cannot be denied that there is also a buzz surrounding the band.

Shandy Mandies presented an appropriate support. The local band's songs are varied but generally span the decade before punk - from 60s surf influenced numbers to heavy 70s rock. The reception was good and I must say that I really enjoyed their performance. They are from Leipzig but play fairly regularly in Berlin. You may want to check them out if you like your 70s rock music.

The main act, on the other hand, does not try for variation or toning down in any way. They play heavy, and heavy. It borders on stoner rock at times but then resorts to just 70s deep rock'n'roll most of the time. Given their two-piece bass and drums set up, all songs start with a good rhythm and some melody. After two minutes at the most, it all loses itself in some seemingly ad hoc rock out jam session. I am sure it's rehearsed but it is hard to tell. 

As you might expect, this was loud. There was a lot of smoke from the head-nodding crowd. It was hot. Though I did appreciate Tweak Bird's rhythm and roll and the heaviness of their jams, I did feel that I had heard it all after about half the set. But truth be told, I would not have wanted to miss this gig. It's one of those things - it may not be your gig of the year but you have had to go regardless. And I am all glad for it. A good night at Kotti.

Tweak Bird illustrations © Robin Eisenberg. She is one fine talented woman and we love her! Contact her via her website if you want her to do amazing work for you, too. 

Monday 4 February 2013

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

February has only just come in the door and taken its boots off and already there it feels like spring has come early, with not only Berlinale transforming town into one big fest, but more gigs on the menu than you can ever swallow. Alright! We are sticking to the basics this week btw, as in: our absolute must-go-to gigs.

The Soft Pack at Comet: The Soft Pack are just a great lo-fi indie pop band. I saw them a few years back and was not that impressed on that particular occasion but I would give them the benefit of the doubt anytime. The records are really rather enjoyable.

Tweak Bird and Opa at West-Germany: Rock’n’roll, the 70s variety, raw and fun. C*’s gig of the week, in her favourite living room, and the place to be on Tuesday. Alright!

O. Children at Monarch: I mistakenly previewed this last month and this is what I said, probably: Very cool dark wave, mystifying and not to be missed. A treat!
Die Heiterkeit and Fenster at Kantine am Berghain: Very popular all-girl quirk pop outfit Die Heiterkeit are releasing their album and have asked international Berlin favourites Fenster to support for this. This is going to be packed and you better show up early!

Tamaryn and Jaguwar at Comet Club: Sure, there is an overload of dream pop groups around at the moment but you know, demand and offering. I am sure Tamaryn are going to please and if you like you dream pop, as I do, head out to Comet on Thursday.

Friday is insane this week - just have a look at the calendar. So to make it easy for you, we are previewing only one gig for you, the one you need to be at:
SchnAAk and Opa at West Germany: SchnAAk are amazing. They play experimental noise rock mixed with weird grooves and tribal rhythms. This is their first Berlin show since quite a while and we’re excited to finally see them again and present their newest EP Cool Drink Town! Expect a party!

Men Without Hats at K17: You can dance if you want to. And you probably will. Saturday night alright at K17 with some new wave indie rock action.


Hoax and Pig//Control at Tiefgrund (starts 6.30pm!): some nice chaotic hardcore punk for the end of the weekend. Hoax’s live shows are supposed to be quite the experience. Pig//Control are a relatively new band from Berlin, crusty and fast pissed punk.
Fabulous Diamonds at Monarch (starts 6pm!): Ambienty, dreamy and experimental but not as whacky as this may sound. Relax this Sunday afternoon at this very special Monarch matinée. A must-go-to-thingy.

Saturday 2 February 2013


If you have no plans for tonight yet: Static Shock is throwing a party at Wowsville (Ohlauer Str. 33) which will most likely also include Diät playing live. Sounds like fun and some good music is guaranteed!

Here's the facbebook event for some more info.

Friday 1 February 2013

The Craze Tea Time

The time has come. We have surpassed 50,000 pageviews and we feel rather grown-up for it. So we are throwing an afternoon party of tea and cake and music on February the 17th. Do join us, the tea party starts around 4pm! More details will follow in the coming days, meanwhile you can join in the facebook event.