Reviews Janauary - March 2010

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New Weird Austria (2010) - ♪♪♪
Binder und Krieglstein (Austria)

Whilst writing our Austrian section this month the new album by Austrian musical eclectic Rainer Binder-Krieglstein fell on the doormat. Coincidence? Whatever it may be it made me listen to ‘New Weird Austria’ in a whole new perspective. I reviewed his debut album ‘Alles verloren’ three years ago and didn’t quit get it. But writing the item about Austropop and the characteristics the genre has suddenly made me listen from a completely different perspective. For instance, for non-Austrians opening track ‘Bratlgeiger’ is some kind of crazy anarchistic folk-hysteria. But then we forget that singer Wilfried, responsible for the absurd vocal techniques, is actually a legend that had one of the first true Austropop hits in 1972 with ‘Ziwui Ziwui’. And that’s exactly the essence of the music Binder-Krieglstein tries to make with a mix between bigbeat, electronica and hiphop on one side and polka, Vienesse Schrammelmusik, Ländler, Yodelling and traditional Styrian on the other. And, listening back to ‘Alles verloren’ Rainer makes a great step forward by adding original instrumental sounds instead of everything coming from a sampling box. Which makes the album sound less flat. In his hand a happy schlager like song like ‘Mein gröβter Schatz’ gets a raw edge when the traditional brass band is thrusted by an electronic beat and singer Karl Gründling growls darkly about his ‘biggest sweetheart’ while a delayed yodel echo’s from afar. And the album is filled with these kinds of tumbled over warped folk elements on beats. With ditto weird lyrics like “I kissed a dog and i liked it“ or “Are you happy in your father’s firm“. Not every guest track worked out nicely though, for non-Austrian ears. Like the annoying “Radkette’ where Heimo Mitterer does a smurf on helium imitation or over-enthusiastic Didi Bruckmayr who belts the ‘Sing and Dance’ chorus so often on ’Three times’ that you’d wish he’d would choke in the nearest apfelstrüdel. In fact the best and also most ‘normal’ tracks are the ones made with singer Makki. She is also the regular singer in the B&K live band and is clearly the most comfortable in the manic universe of Rainer. No matter how many clarinets-riffs, trombone-waves and drum-beats he throws at her, she keeps the balance straight. That playing along with electronic experiments is an art in itself becomes even more evident in the two guest roles that do work out. Christian Fuchs and Suzy (both present on the last two tracks) evidently are used to dealing with this type of music in their own band Bunny Lake. So, although on paper a nice idea to get some of the Austropop classics in front of the microphone, the result is less then the gimmick. But the title of the album certainly lives up to it’s promise of giving the new weird Austria.

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Buzy - Au bon moment, au bon endroit 


Au bon moment, au bon endroit (2010) - ♪♪♪♪
Buzy (France)

Marie-Claire Buzy is definitely one of Frances hidden gems. She surficed at the beginning of the eighties and scored some hit singles (‘Body physical’, ‘Adrian’). Although commercial success started to fade, she continued recording albums every now and then. Most of them contain quit decent French pop/rock songs and should have had more reward from the public. In 2005 she released the rushing rock album ‘Borderlove’, which she created with Daniel Darc, Jay and Alice Alanski Boots. More and more she was called the French Patti Smith or Marianne Faithfull. Now Buzy is back with an completely new album, ‘Au bon moment, au bon endroit’ (‘Right time, right place’). And it is definitely one of her best albums ever!

Buzy has worked with many famous people in the music scene (Etienne Roda-Gil, Daniel Darc, Serge Gaisnbourg). For this new album she again compiled a team of famous musicians and songwriters: Gerard Manset, Jean Fauque, Daran and Rodolphe Burger (the later also produced Higelin’s 2010 release ‘Coup de foudre’). Another element that is unrecognisable Buzy is the artists hoarse, gravely voice, expressing her concerns of the world today. The songs and arrangements are quite neat and clean, the production, by Buzy and Claude Sacre, is light and transparent. The songs are arranged for real instruments with lots of piano and strings. The general sound often remind me of Alain Bashung.

Buzy, now over 50 years old, lost some of her closest relatives the past few years. In the song ‘Ephémère’ (‘Transitory’) she deals with mourning over her deceased relatives. For six years now, she is a psychotherapist, making it necessary for her to open up on humans. This work, this helping other people, has rubbed off positively on her artistic expression. The general theme of the album is ‘time’. ‘Right time, right place’, here and now. It is greatly inspired by the book ‘The Power of present moment’ by mystic psychotherapist Eckhart Tolle. Buzy in an interview for TribuMove: “Since the death of my family, I have lots of questions on time. (…) when you reach 50 years, you can be caught in the trap of nostalgia of the past, dreading the future. This is obvious because you're over half of your life. (…) I find that to pay a lot of interest at the present is the only way out. I see this present! I do not think about what happened in my past, I do not plan foolishly in the future because it did not bring any final anguish. Time is the theme of this album.”

‘Petite messe’ (‘Small mass’):
“Living the moment is elegant / I lose nothing I am now / Little prayer and mass for God / When the light opens my eyes / … / Beauty of the world when I hear you / In the silence of our time / Become a tree a or stream / The right place, at the right time”

One of the key tracks on the album is ‘Les fleurs me parlent’ (‘The flowers speak to me’) with lyrics by famous French artist Gérard Manset. After ‘Je suis un arbre’ (‘I am a tree’) from her previous album ‘Borderlove’, Buzy once again deals with the ecological situation of the planet. Buzy in TribuMove: “I have a passion for nature. (…) We must respect nature, the number one problem that will fall on the nose with the climate disturbance ... There is a massive destruction of the planet and must now regroup!”

‘Les fleurs me parlent’:
“The flowers tell me / That you have passed / That I have not seen you / This large, injured tree / Perhaps it was you / You, who told me life / That I would be cured / That is is an illusion / That I wil get up”

‘Au bon moment, au bon endroit’ is a delicate yet challenging album which contains a subtle explosion of feelings and emotions. It's message is realistic and confronting but offers hope and healing at the same time. Like in the song ‘Ephémère’ (‘Transitory’):
“Dragonflies of light between sky and sea / We are only transitory / The angels guard the universe / transitory”

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Ellen Ten Damme - Durf Jij?


Durf jij? (2009) - ♪♪♪
Ellen ten Damme (Netherlands)

Artistically Miss ten Damme is one of the most colourful artists the Netherlands has in its midst. Next to her singing career she acts, can do a perfect handstand and has an above average interest in old-fashioned variety shows. To still that last hunger she amazed the Dutch public last summer at the royal theatre Carré in Amsterdam with a variety show called ‘Cirque Stiletto’. Concerning her pop-career she has three English-languaged solo albums but frequently pops up on albums from German artists like Udo Lindenberg (to name just one). And now there’s ‘Durf jij?’ (Do you dare?) her first album completely in Dutch. An album filled with songs reporting about all sorts of girlie-neurotic stuff. The album unfolds itself as if you get a peek in Ellen’s secret diary. Frustrated reports about lost lovers (who can fuck themselves two songs later), dreams that she is the queen of France or just plain pothead vagueness. Big surprise is that Ellen actually did not write the lyrics for the songs. Responsible is Dutch poet Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer who wrote the lyrics specially for this album. Hats off to both the artists that they succeeded in making the collaboration sound so natural.

Then for the music, for which ten Damme is responsible. Being a musical omnivore herself she incorporates elements from rock, pop but also kleinkunst, levenslied and German liedermacher. The title track, ‘Ik hoop dat het slecht met je gaat’ (I hope you’re miserable) and ‘Dit lied gaat over jou’ (This song is about you) are more poprock-songs while songs like ‘Koningin van Frankrijk’ and ‘Dief in de nacht’ (Thief in the night) come very close to the universe of that other Dutch variety diva, Fay Lovsky. For Dutch listeners that last song is extra amusing since in the chorus the music suddenly changes into a genuine Jordaanstyled-schlager melody. Funny. ‘Feestje’ is a Ellen’s punk version of that old-fashioned girl theme: ‘It’s my party and I cry if I want to’. While listening to ‘Durf jij?’ it struck me that with all that mixing of styles Ellen suddenly comes close to the French nu-folk movement. The album would fit nicely in the line of artists like Olivia Ruiz, Emily Loizeau or Clarica. Would that be intentional? Since Miss ten Damme’s international focus lies more toward the East (Germany) then the South (France) it’s hardly likely but the resemblance is sometimes striking. ‘Durf jij’ is not an easy album if you like your pop simple and your singer impeccable. But to me it is a relief that she didn’t step into the trap so many Dutch artists did before her by smoothing their music into a slick cabaret mould that drains all sincerity. Just because she isn’t the worlds best singer or musician she keeps a raw edge to most of the songs which suits her (and me) fine. To an international audience that doesn’t understand Dutch ‘Durf jij?’ is a nice and sympathetic introduction to what Dutch kleinkunst-pop can be about.

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Doris Dragovic - Doris Dragovic - Ja Vjerujem


Ja vjerujem (2009) - ♪♪♪
Doris Dragovic (Croatia)

After six years of absence from the music scene, Doris Dragovic has released her comeback album ‘Ja vjerujem’ (‘I believe’). It is Doris’ nineteenth album release and the first for her new record company Dallas Records. Some may still remember Doris from her performances in the Eurovision Song Contest (1986, finishing 11th and again in 1999, finishing 4th). Her performances were quite impressive and there was no doubt that Doris was one of the better singers that participated in the contest. In her home country, Doris is one of the most popular singers with a huge fan base. Her singing qualities are also the main feature on her albums. During her career, Doris did make some rare excursions into other genres like dance/disco, but in general she remained loyal to the Dalmatian musical style. Highly romantic songs, a lot of ballads and sometimes a mid tempo song, with lyrics mainly focusing on the subject love. The compositions tend to have a folky (or: folklore) feel to them. I suppose that we would call her songs ‘schlagers’ if she would sing in the German language.

Preceding the release of the album, the single ‘Ni riči’ was released, which achieved immediate success in Croatia with much airplay on national radio stations. Two of the ten songs on the album were performed earlier: ‘Svit ne more znat’ was performed very successfully at the Split Festival last year, and ‘Teret jubavi’ was performed at the same festival in 2003. The album consists mostly of romantic, melancholic ballads. The title track stands out and has a great dramatic melody line. Despite the six years of absence and the change of record label, the Doris does not take any new musical directions on her new album. In fact, in general it is more of the same. Doris singing is impeccable and she does know how to bring the songs on ‘Ja vjerujem’ to life with her strong and powerful voice. The arrangements, however, are very mediocre – most of the sounds come out of keyboards and synthesizers. I guess that her many fans will be very pleased with this new album. Yet for me, I am a little bit disappointed. I just wished Doris would have taken a bit more risk and that she would have experimented a bit more with other music styles. And in my opinion, the songs would have sounded so much better when arranged and performed with a real orchestra… Who knows, maybe Doris will take revenge on her next album in six years time…?



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Kırık kalpler durağında (2009) - ♪♪♪♪
Candan Erçetin (Turkey)

I always get very excited when there is a new album out by Turkish diva Candan Erçetin. This singer combines a beautiful voice with great sonwriting skills. Her music is always pop, but with many influences from traditional Turkish music, but also from French chanson, jazz, gypsy music and folk. The result is always very fresh and adventurous.

Fortunately, her latest album 'Kırık kalpler durağında' ('Broken hearts stop') is no exception to this rule. The album contains 16 songs, mostly written by Candan hersself, sometimes together with other songwriters, and has been produced by Alper Erinç,

It opens with the strong title track, an energetic song, with a very catchy flamenco or gypsy-like rhythm and flavour. The second track, 'Git' ('Go') is no less energetic, it is a more pop oriented tune about a love affairwith a very strong refrain. Then Candan slows down a bit for the ballad 'Kader' ('Fate'), only to pick it up again with an interpretation of 'Unutama beni', this time with Southamerican influences (it would fit the soundtrack of a modern Sergio Leone film).

'Vallahi' and 'Yalvaramam' are love ballads, with beautiful lyics. Candan just knows how to make heart pain and sorrow sound so beautiful, like in the ballad 'Yalvaramam' ('I cannot plead'):
"Every day I die a little more in my pain / Don't want to go, cannot say that I stopped / I can not plead without lights / I probably will not be out of breath by sunrise / Even the world stops, this is my recovery from pain"

'Gözler' ('Eyes') and 'Türkü' are nice, typcial Turkish popy songs, perfectly arranged with modern and traditional instruments. 'Vay halime' is a catchy traditional folk song (a bit in the style of Goran Bregovic) for which Candan wrote the new lyrics. Hearing this song, images from Turkish beautiful countryside and coastline come to my mind. 'Unutursun' ('You will forget') is a beautiful love song; 'Bahar' ('Spring') is an uplifting tune about the coming of springtime and is a plea to enjoy live as much as possible. 'Kimin doğrusu' ('Who indeed') is an uptempo song with sharp lyrics:
"This is from the life lived / In fact, no one will tell anyone / From their own mistakes and from the cruelty / Everyone is judging someone else's life".

For the last songs of the album Candan slows down a bit, starting with the love ballad 'Özür dilerim' ('Sorry'), followed by 'Nedense sustum' (XXXXX) with a dramatic climax with electric guitars, violins etc., and 'Ben kimim' ('Who am I'), one of the best songs on the album (see video clip below) with beautiful lyrics about selfdoubt:
"Every day my shadow is everywhere / Am I mute sound / Am I smoky haze / What am I"
Closing track 'Ninni' is a lullaby, based on a traditional melody and lyrics, to which Candan added some new lines. Although it is a lullaby, it tells a dark story about the fate of a village. The remarkable thing is that we can hear Candan perform something of a Tuirkish rap in the song.

After having listened to the 16 tracks of 'Kırık kalpler durağında' I can only conclude that Candan Erçetin succeeded to match all high expectations of her new record. She created a very diverse, intriguing world music album, with great lyrics, timeless songs, beautifully arranged - combining both mdern and tradition instruments. In short: a true work of art!


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Fodspor i havet (2010) - ♪♪♪♪
Michael Falch (Danmark)

For some thirty years, Michael Falch is one of Denmark’s most popular rock personalities. He is a singer/songwriter, rock artist, actor and he even published some books. Apparently Falch is highly influenced by Neil Young, yet he always sings in his native Danish language. ‘Fodspor I havet’ (‘Footprints in the sea’) is Michael Falch’s first release on his own label (Krebsfalch, founded together with his friend and musical partner Poul Krebs). The album was very well received by Danish music critics and it went to number two on the Danish album charts in just a few days.

‘Fodspor I havet’ was recorded during a seven months period that Falch was living in a small, lonely fisherman’s house on the island of Funen. For four months, the ocean that Falch overlooked from the house was frozen. The long hard winter in Funen is the major source of inspiration for ‘Fodspor I havet’. Winter time is also omni-present in the lyrics of the ten songs.

The title track, that opens the album, says it all:
“With eyes we can only see the top layer / And we still have only one short evolution behind us / One day the ice melts / and the water is sea / You walk along the beach / and you find your amber / Sail out now / Now you can see / That no frost will persist”

Falch’s lyrics are of outstanding class. Take for instance the song ‘Trækfugle’ (‘Migratory birds’), in which he presents to us the timeless theme of the ever changing cycle of the seasons. However, he knows to link this theme to this present day very ingeniously:

‘Trækfugle’ (‘Migratory birds’):
”Is there another world to our white winter pale dead Facebook faces? / Now they draw away again, leaving us back here / We will not be alone any more / Now they fly away from here / to the sun and desert sands / While we must wait here / in our wet winter land”

With ‘Fodspor I havet’ Michael Falch presents us with the perfect soundtrack for the winter. It sounds light, atmospheric – even abstract - at times, yet with very beautiful, melancholic melodies and lyrics. One can still recognise Neil Young’s influence, but there are also traces of Daniel Lanois and Neil Diamond. It is, in fact, Americana Danish-style. A great record to play repeatedly during the cold Sundays.


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Benim adım orman (2009) - ♪♪♪
Şebnem Ferah (Turkey)

‘Benim adım orman’ (‘My name is forest’) is the latest album by successful Turkish singer and composer Şebnem Ferah. Soon after its release at the end of last year, the album went to the first spot of the Turkish album charts. It is the second album she recorded together with producer Tarkan Gözübüyük from metal group Pentagram. Apart from the heavy opener ‘Merhaba’ (‘Hello’) and some occasional guitar riffs, the album is not so heavy.

The title track ‘Benim adım orman’ (‘My name is forest’) is a mysterious song with different tempo’s and layers. The song has equally mysterious lyrics:
“Fire all my poems I'm ready / Come come come come / Whether you rest in me
Have a song from my roots in my language / Visit every corner in my bare feet / Come come come come / My name is forest / Cloth made from leaves / Laid on by everyone / All of us have slept in solitude”

After the first three songs Şebnem slows down a bit and the rest of the album contains more or less mid tempo songs. ‘Mahalle’ (‘Neighbourhood’) is a captivating song in which Şebnem compares the destruction of a relation to the way a (her?) old neighbourhood was destructed by new building development:
“Graves were dug in the soil of my heart / You put skyscrapers on top / … / The upper floors of buildings have decorated terraces / … / You set up this neighbourhood, deleted it from the map / Searches the streets of my mind when asked / Who knows how many times I have broken my heart / When the train passed the station”

‘Serapmış’ (‘Mirage’) is a dramatic song about loss and loneliness:
“An old ship aground / Squeezed from the shadow of the willow / Everywhere you look in the mirror / Exiled from happiness, like one has been banned”

One of my personal favourites is mid tempo song ‘Insanlik’ (‘Humanity’):
“Our voice was different, but we were actually the same / What happened to humanity / Our hope was clear / Our ambition was shy / What happened to humanity / Ash forest we were / We were slaves / At the heart of humanity”

Although the songs are all of good quality - and some are even real gems – as a whole the album sounds a bit even at times. There is no weak song and the sound and production is always pleasant; I just miss a few real catching tunes like the two opening tracks. It sounds like Şebnem seems somehow stuck between wanting to write an album with serious songs on one hand, and the wish to somehow maintain loyal to her more rock orientated fans. Does she want to be a singer-songwriter or rock chick? It makes me I wonder what direction Şebnem will take on her next album…


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Jacques Higelin - Coup de foudre 


Coup de foudre (2010) - ♪♪♪♪
Jacques Higelin (France)

Four year after the release of the majestic ‘Amor doloroso’, Jacques Higelin is back with a new stio album: ‘Coup de foudre’ (‘Lightning strike’). The album was recorded with the same team as ‘Amor doloroso’:
Production by Rodolphe Burger and Dominique Mahut, mix by Ian Caple. Although his songs do not get much airplay on French radio, Higelin has a successful long lasting career in music business since the late sixties. He has an extremely eclectic musical style and he is especially famous for his live performances.

After having dealt with ‘love’ as the main theme on ‘Amor doloroso’, this time Higelin turns his focus to the southern swamp rock, blues and jazz from New Orleans, USA. The 12 tracks have a real southern atmosphere around them, thanks to the brass section (trumpets, trombone, and saxophones) and the use of real instruments and analog keyboards. Together with his gravelled singing voice, it all sounds somewhat like a French version of Tom Waits. Not much ballads or traditional French chansons on this record, but hot, sweaty rock and blues songs with great lyrics!

Higelin has always been a singer-songwriter with amazing lyrical talents. And ‘Coup de foudre’ is no exception, take for instance the fantastic song title ‘Qu’est-ce qui passé à la caisse?’ (‘What happens to the body?’). With his poetry, Higelin shares his unique, funny view on the world that we live in. But he never forgets the issues of today, like the song ‘Aujourd’hui la crise’ (‘Today the crises’). The album opens with the beautiful title track about a fantastic experience of love, thus being a perfect brigde between ‘Amor doloroso and the rest of this album. ‘Coup de foudre’ (‘Lightning strike’):
“Sending straight to the seventh sky / Where crazy love has arranged an appointment / At the top of the Eiffel Tower / Dizzy lovers / Kisses fly on the wings of the wind / Eternal vows / Engraved into the blue sky”

One of the songs that express the atmosphere of the southern states from the US best is the black ‘Kyrie Eleison’ (‘Lord have mercy’):
“When the bell rings / I take out my trombone / And I play my tune for the dead / In front of the monument / Where the living dead sing / Kyrie eleison. / It was so pretty, sweet and cruel / One look from an angel, like Madonna / To damn all the saints in heaven and hell together. / I love life, love, death / Everyone that roars, that enjoys biting / The surge of thunderstorms / All that pushed the curtains of heaven / before plunging six feet under.”

Higelin is well aware that the world inhabits not only happy, successful people. There are also people who are forced to or chose to live outside our regular society. As he describes in the beautiful ‘Valse MF’:
“Because I light the whole district / With my wet firecrackers / They treat me like a wreck / A lifeboat that takes water. / I've always been someone / they looked at with disdain / or someone they send back to his corner /As a poor dog.”

All in all with ‘Coup de foudre’ Higelin proves that he is still one of the most creative and unique artists in the European music business. The album is already a commercial success in France (no. 2 in the album charts in the 2nd week of its release), hopefully music lovers from other countries will take the effort to discover this album. It will be worth it!

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Ich + Ich - Gute Reise (Deluxe Version) 


Gute Reise (2009) - ♪♪♪
Ich + Ich (Germany)

Annette Humpe organized it smartly for herself. As one part of the duo Ich + Ich she writes all the songs and plays along in the studio. Adel Tawil is one that subsequently goes on tour with the new material in forms the live-face of the band. This has been the situation since 2005 and ‘Gute Reise’ is the third album. Different to their debut is that Annette resides from singing more then backing vocals (the only lead vocals she does is the haunting ballad ‘Die Lebenden und die Toten’ and ‘Danke’) which is handy since Adel has to sing all the material on tour. And obviously they get accustomed to this construction because ‘Gute reise’ sounds much less forced then the former albums. The recipe is still the same. Slightly esoteric pop on urban beats but somehow the duo get’s the ingredients much more balanced out. Opening track and single ‘Pflaster’ (Bandage) is exemplary for the following  tracks, love and relationships (or the failure of) in twelve different metaphors. “You are the bandage / for my soul / when a grope around in the dark / you are my window / you are my compass / when I get lost / when I call you / you are already there”. Humpe wrote the lyrics down in a simple almost childlike manor. This sometimes gets a bit to pathetic like on ‘Hallo Hallo’ when Tawil sings: “Hello, my name is loser / and I'm sitting in the very last row in the back / What yesterday were my friends are now not accessible to me" but if your German isn’t that good it’s easy to ignore that. But then again how sweet is it if you can sing “What am I without you? / A sailing ship made out of stone / A single leaf in the wind / Rain over the lake / an cold and empty fountain”. It’s the simple, almost childlike, naïve lyrics that gave ‘Gute reise’ mediocre reviews in the German media. I guess if it’s your mother’s tongue it may all sound a bit corny but for international listeners ‘Gute Reise’ gives a sweet and romantic musical trip. Expect no big musical innovations until the last song when the duo incorporate an Arabic element with the help of Mohamed Mournir.


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Karpatenhund - Der Name dieser Band ist Karpatenhund (Bonus Track Version) 


Der Name dieser Band Ist ... (2009) - ♪♪♪
Karpatenhund (Germany)

The award for the coolest bandname of 2009 must go to this Cologne based fivesome. And to emphasize that it’s no joke they incorporate it in the title as well. The name gives me images of ‘The Omen’ or ‘Excorcist’ and doom and gloom acts like the Cure or Bauhaus in their old days. Am I right? Well, not completely. Musically the band around MTV-presenter and actress Claire Oelkers positions itself somewhere between MIA, Wir sind helden and teenage goth act Tokyo Hotel. So more ‘Twilight’ and ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ then Linda Blair growling your mother does unspeakable things in hell. But that’s OK. Karpatenhund makes pop-poetry that comes straight from the Hamburger Schule movement (no wonder with Peter Deimel in the producer’s seat) but chooses dark themes to sing about. Issues such as grief, loss, emptiness, self-pity and fear come by in a credible popmanner. The video for the single ‘Notfalls werde ich fur immer warten’ (I will wait forever if that’s what it takes) shows Claire in a coffin singing: “If necessary, I'll wait forever / It is not easy to understand that the earth and sun themselves/ Turn even without me / But I fear, that’s exactly what they do". It’s teenage angst that rules the heart of Oelkers. "What I touch, is broken / What I want, I have forgotten / Where I run, will open the floor / Here no grass grows, never grows again” . Charming. With lyrics like that this could have gone completely introvert and depressive. Luckily the band whips up the music so that at least three quarter of the album is ready to lighten up the dancefloor and festival meadow. They shopped around in eighties new wave but took special care to stay clear of the dark. So in the end Karpatenhund leaves you in a good mood while they leave you with the message: “This is not the start / This is not the end / This is no in between / There is nowhere.". The only thing we start wondering is if it’s hip in Germany for female singers to sound so grungy? What happened to the good rocksingers like Tamara Danz?

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Luke - D'autre part 

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D'autre part (2010) - ♪♪♪♪
Luke (France)

French rockband Luke takes it’s time to create a new album. The band has released four albums so far since their debut in 2001, usually with an interval of three years. With this new album Luke continues musically on it’s path of creating French rockmusic in the great tradition of Higelin, Téléphone and Noir Desir. But it were always the lyrics by Thomas Boulard that added that extra depth to the music. It is unclear what happened but Thomas’ mental state certainly turned to a bitter state for ‘D’autre part’. The album title can be translated as ‘The other place’. In a recent interview with RFI Boulard explains that the title refers to the mental state we’re currently in. Through internet and new technology with give ourselves the illusion that we’re moving which in fact is untrue. The world is moving around us but we are standing still, not developing ourselves. The desire to experience that other place is gone and replaced with an illusion of movement. The cover of the album symbolizes that nicely with a bronze statue floating on an air balloon. Boulard wants to spread his wings and be a true discoverer again. Like he explains on single  ‘Pense a moi’ (Think of me): “I go for adventure/ Because life here is boring/ Recount my wounds/ Recount the infinite / World travel / I spread my wings/ Here I am a shadow/ One in a hundred”.

Boulard experiences the current Western society as a society that doesn’t know how to laugh (Fini de rire) or how to forgive (Le gardien de prison). He sees the people around him as ‘Monsieur tout le monde’ (Mister everywhere) who say “Don’t ask me where I come from / I don’t even know my name / Not even if I want to / for in fact I fall / I search not / I take what is given to me / I do not hope / in fact I quit”. Do not mistake Boulard bitter state for fatalism. In fact he resists the numbness he sees in politics and society. He wants us to wake up. “I located a shadow / She calls me but I don not yet respond / She is a bird that searched her trees / I, who have no branches for my soul” (‘le fantôme (the ghost)). At RFI Boulard explains “I take my inspiration from the common traits of people today and our modern era. And I notice that it’s a world without humour, a world that sneers, that mocks the weak and looks up to the rich. There’s no moral at the end of the stories I tell. My job is to open the window on certain subjects and then close it at the end of the song.”. The album ends with a sign of hope on ‘Si je m’écoutais’ (If I listened) : “Now that I murmur / I think it all has ended / In this shadow on the wall / In this sand in the hand/ Now that I murmur / I think of tomorrow”. ‘D’autre part’ is good French rockalbum but it’s the lyrics of Boulard that lift it to a higher level.

Is a new age of Chanson Rock near? If it’s up to Luke it is but the French rockscene currently is flooded with young rockgroups that sing in (poor) English. Boulard also has an opinion on these French "baby rockers: “What they do is great, but I don’t agree with them. Do they want French to become merely a regional language? Already, corporate board meetings in France are all in English. Soon, we’ll be voting in European laws in English and doing maths and sociology in English. Do we want French to become a language just for the poor, the ignorant and the artists? Personally, I don’t. I’m in favour of globalising cultures if it means blending them, but not if it simply means imitating another culture.” Amen to that.

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Mala Vita - En Exilio 
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En Exilio (2009) - ♪♪♪
Mala Vita (Italy / Bosnia / Netherlands)

Mala Vita is an eclectic collective. Singer Mickael comes from Italy while the other band members originate from Bosnia, Serbia and The Netherlands. Lyrics are in Italian, Spanish, English, Bosnian or French. Or call it ‘Itañol’, ‘Franglais’ or ‘Bosniano’, because the idiom of the Malavitosi is just as diverse as their music. Influences from the Roma culture and Mestizo-music can be heard. Now, we had our fair share of these bands the past years so is Mala Vita able to add something to that. Unlike the roster of that other Balkan Beat label Essay Mala Vita is much more bitter in their lyrics. Being exiled from your home country leaves you with a longing “I wish I was home / to touch the ground you touch”. They add a punk-flavour to their music to emphasize that bitterness. Their third album ‘En exilio’ reminds me somehow to those old Mano Negra albums released some twenty years ago. Like that band Mala Vita also has build a strong live-reputation and with album is able to translate that power to a studio album. Music like this doesn’t call for any vocal skills expect that you have to have a very strong voice to yell the lyrics over the rockband. This works when the band is in full swing like on ‘God is a gypsy’ which is like Rage against the Machine in a Balkan remix. but when the music slows down for a more mid-tempo song you’ll find that Mickael lacks a good singing voice. No matter, these tracks are kept to a minimum and with songs like ‘Ritmo di protesta’, ‘Give it up’, 'Ya no quiero' and ‘Šljivovica’ the energy oozes from your speakers “Watcha waiting for / Get on the dancefloor” (‘God is a gypsy’)

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Nah bei dir (2009) - ♪
Mireille Mathieu (France)

Either you hate her or you love her, there is probably nothing in between. Fact is that La Mathieu is one of the most successful recording artists ever. And she is still going strong, having released a string of successful albums – both in French and German language – in then past decade. In that perspective she is far more productive than her Anglo-American counterparts like Barbra Streisand and Shirley Bassey. During April and May 2010, Mireille will be touring Germany and Austria again. And naturally, the musical tour has to be anticipated by a new album. ‘Nah bei dir’ (‘Close to you’) will probably do the trick, but is unfortunately not another highlight in Mireille’s oeuvre like her French albums from 2002 (‘De tes mains’) and 2005 (‘MIreille Mathieu’).

‘Nah bei dir’ is quite similar to ‘In meinem Herzen’, her latest German record from 2007. Everything about the record gives the impression that it was mechanically produced. The 14 schlagers sound mediocre, the arrangements sound cheap with much synthesizers. Even the booklet and the artwork looks cheap; the picture is almost identical to the one on her 2005 album!

There are some acceptable songs, like ‘Wir stehen uns bei’ (‘We stand by one another’) and ‘Das Licht’ (‘The light’) in which Mathieu actually succeeds in stirring up some emotion in me. But it is mostly thanks to her strong vocal abilities and long experience, that proves to be a very strong instrument even on ‘automatic pilot’.

Other songs are just very mediocre and sometimes even worse. A song title like ‘Sehnsucht is ein Liebesbrief’ (‘Longing is like a love letter’) is just unacceptable, ‘C’est l’amour’ (‘That’s love’) is a poor attempt to remind the German public of Mireille’s origins, or the horrific lyrics of ‘Wunderland’ (‘Wonderland’):
“Blue waves, a leaf falls on my leg / No clouds enveloped the sky / Everything here blooms and lives / The grass in my hand / Everything here is flying and hovering / I am in wonderland”

I wish Mireille all the best on her forthcoming tour through Germany and Austria, but I hope for her huge loyal fans that she will stick to her many past successes during the recitals and that she will strictly limit the amount of songs from this latest album. And hopefully next time Mireille will release another (French) album that does more justice to her and will me more worthy of her.

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Nospiedumi - Отпечаткио - Impressions (2009) - ♪♪♪
Mielavs un Pārcēlāji (Latvia)

What do Paul Simon, Dead Can Dance, Boris Pasternak and Gilbert Bécaud have in common? No idea probably? Well, they have all been interpreted by Ainars Mielavs on the latest album of his combo Mielavs un Pārcēlāji (‘Mielav and the ferrymen’).

Ainars Mielavs is one of Latvia’s most successful and influential recording artists. He started his career during Soviet reign, among others with his very successful band Jauns Mēness (‘New Moon’), and invented ‘Baltic rock music’ on the way. He continued his successful career after the fall of the iron curtain and released many albums, either solo or with bands. A constant factor in his musical entourage is composer and guitarist Gints Sola, his long time musical partner. Mielavs and Sola usually write their own songs and they have proved they can compose great songs on many occasions already. (In fact, they were frequently rewarded, for instance for the song ‘Piekuns skrien debesis’ that won in both the Sopot festival and Bregenz festival in 1991 and became a Latvian standard song.)

This time, however, they wanted to interpret songs from the composers and writers they admire a lot. The album comes in a very beautiful package with lyrics translated to English and Russian. Furthermore, Mielavs explains for almost every song the reasons why this particular song is so important to him (again in English, Latvian and Russian language). This way, we learn that during the Soviet reign, no western pop music was allowed except for some French artists like Aznavour, Mathieu and Bécaud. Which is why he inpterprets Bécaud’s ‘Et maintenant’ (‘What now (my love)’) on the album. The song 'Никого не ьудет в доме' (‘No one at home’) is a beautiful Russian song composed by Mikael Tariverdijev with lyrics by Boris Pasternak. Mielavs explains the timeless power of the song, that is part of the soundtrack of the film ‘The irony of fate’ by Russian filmmaker Eldar Ryazanov.

All ten songs have undergone the Mielavs/Sola treatment, turning them into simple, folk songs, sung by Mielavs with his beautiful warm and soft voice (imagine Johnny Cash without the dark and harsh tones), accompanied only by Gints Sola on guitar, mandolin or banjo and Anrijs Grinbergs on percussion. When you are not familiar with Mielavs material: do not expect any grand gestures or productional adventures and experiments. He has evolved into a real troubadour and his music is very simple and pure, almost serene. He recorded songs that seemingly have noting in common. Thanks to the fact that he discards each of the songs from all unnecessary elements until nothing is left except the very core of the songs, they work perfectly as a collection. ‘Nospiedumi’ is a successful homage to the writers and composers that have influenced Mielavs and can be a nice introduction if you want to get acquainted with Mielavs work.

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Quentin Mosimann - Exhibition (Deluxe Version) 


Exhibition (2010) - ♪♪
Quentin Mosimann (France)

Quentin Mosimann was born in Geneva on February 14, 1988, of a Swiss father and a French mother. Although he only has the Swiss nationality, he lives and works in France. Under the name of John Louly he worked as a DJ with John Revox and Christian Sims. In 2008 he was selected for the Star Academy 7 in France. He won the final with 52.6% of the votes. He quickly released a first album, ‘Duel’, containing mainly cover versions of French hits from the eighties (like Guesch Patti’s ‘Etienne’ and Jakie Quartz’ ‘Mise au point’). And now Mosimann has just released his first album with original material.

‘Exhibition’ contains eleven electronic poppy dance tunes, written by different composers, especially a lot of songs by François Bernheim. Mosimann contributes to some of the songs as well. It all adds up to a soundtrack for a happy electro party. The beats and arrangements sound typical French and resemble Christophe Willem and Emmanuel Moire. But I can not help thinking that the album – and the artist – are somewhat made up by the music industry. In the promo texts on his website the album is described as “elusive and unexpected, full of ideas” and “today, he found the sound of its own, and he proudly displays on this album than the musical divisions” and “the beats are rich, solid, square, the melodies fit inside, but soft ballads incisors.” Well, this may sound interesting but beware, this description does not fit the album at all.
Let’s take a closer look at the lyrics. Mosimanns website states: “The texts and the themes he addresses in ‘Exhibition’ are at the heart of the concerns of his generation: the day without love (‘Vibrer’), the fascination with top models (‘Made in Paris’), the myth of Prince Charming (‘Tu le reconnaîtras’), the need for independence ( ‘Gimme a break’), the urgency of media and media finance (‘Golden boy’), fear of losing his soul (‘Il y a un paradis’). ‘Exhibition" is powerful, intelligent and bursting with good vibes that rewrites the history of the French variety of quality.” Are they kidding me? The lyrics are very moderate and superficial, which is no problem in itself for this kind of electro pop album, but let’s not pretend there is more to it…

Many young French girls and boys will probably disagree with me, but I think young mr Mosimann is not yet the artist he pretends or wants to be. He does have a lot of potential, but it will take some time and hard work to fulfil his promise.

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Xavier Naidoo & Janet Grogan - Alles kann besser werden (Deluxe Edition) - Alles kann besser werden 


Alles kann besser werden (2009) - ♪♪♪
Xavier Naidoo (Germany)

It took Naidoo four years to get to recording his new album. Four years to write and record 35 songs divided over three discs that make out ‘Alles kann besser werden’. Two cd’s, called ‘Hell’, or in English, ‘Bright 1’ and ‘Bright 2’ feature the more light themes love, hope and comfort. The third ‘Dark’ (or ‘DunkHell’) has a more dark character and features very outspoken political issues. Let’s start with the overall impression and that is that Naidoo succeeds more with every album to fit his typical German speachsinging technique into an interesting musical form. Also the production is very OK especially on the two ‘Hell’ cd’s when Naidoo toys with different rhythms and beats and creates a warm orchestral sound thanks to the Deutscher Filmorchester Babelsberg. His soulful smooth voice strokes over the music like a velvet glove. He created a harmonious collection that takes another step away from the hiphop scene he left ten years ago. And there are some real gems here starting of with the title track. But there is more with songs like ‘Mut zur veranderung’, Meine Muse’, and ‘Konigin’. On tracks like ‘Ich brauche dich’ and ‘Was hab ich falsch gemacht’ he brings in a horn section and rock instruments creating a sound like a soul revue. The orchestra is used in its full potential on ‘Ich warte bis du kommst’ where a soprano kicks off the song while Naidoo unwinds the song around a Mozart theme. But the absolute highpoint is the simple, melancholic ballad ‘Alles lebt’ where the silk voice of Naidoo wraps itself around you like comforting arms whispering that ‘You are never really alone, everything around you is alive / not only the animals or the flowers / but also the rain, the bridge and the leaves in your tea’. In only 3:25 minutes Naidoo is able to move me to tears. Finally album 2 ends with the atmospheric ‘So calm’ which ends with an air horn and the warning that ‘the next generation is coming’. This is the signal to switch over to ‘DunkHell’ which is not so harmonious and much bitter and political outspoken. "That wasn’t everything yet" is the opening line and indeed Xavier has some issues to get of his chest. Issues like child abuse, intolerance, the economic crisis and political ignorance: "I can not see anything Christian / In what you do / The C must get out of the CDU. If only DU / In short, you're out / pick up your bags, you're out " is his statement on ‘Raus’ which he addresses to Angela Merkel and President Obama. The children of the world deserve special protection and a new place and Naidoo speaks out to defend that thought. Musically ‘DunkHell’ is much less interesting and sometimes loses touch with the orchestral and rhythmic innovations he made on cd 1 and 2 completely. And there are more irritation points. We already confirmed that there are some truly musical treasures in this trilogy. But there are also songs which are less adventurous or where the lyrics come close to pathetic, preacher-like or sugarsweet. On these tracks Naidoo is nothing more then a German copy of R. Kelly. Although this is always open for debate. For Instance, personally I find his ode to Europe (‘Europa’) a nice song but Paul Royal found it a bit nauseating. It is this incapability to kill his darlings that backfires on Xavier in the end. I can easily pinpoint fifteen tracks that are four (or even five) star quality. But that leaves twenty tracks that are just OK or even less. And so ‘Alles kann besser werden’ gets three stars. Sorry Xavier.


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Alles Rot (2010) - ♪♪♪
Silly (Germany)

Let’s start this review by saying that in general I get highly suspicious when a band that has been dormant for several (or many) years due to the untimely deaths of key-members makes a restart under the old name. I even get more suspicious when they hire a new front-person that is actually an actress. Regarding that ex-DDR rockband Silly had everything against them. Still I was intrigued what they would make of the new album after fourteen! years. In the accompanying bio the band themselves already take a lead by telling to regard this album not as a restart but as a debut from a brand new band (which just happens to have the same name). And with three of the original bandmembers dead (Tamara Danz in 1996, Herbert Junck in 2005 and Matthias Schramm in 2007) that is probably a realistic point of view. Yet again ‘Alles Rot’ does see the return of songwriter Werner Karma who also wrote Silly’s Magnus Opus ‘Bataillon d’amour’. With Uwe Hassbecker, Ritchie Barton, Jacki Reznicek and new singer Anna Loos this team delivers a ‘debut’ that is not re-heated soup but a fresh and convincing album by a skilled band in the greater German rock tradition. OK, Anna is not Tamara. The colour of her voice is not raw and raspy like Danz’s. But after she’s a good singer on her own account with a much clearer voice. With it she makes a song like ‘Erinnert’ work where Tamara’s dark voice would probably have failed. A song that leans towards Ich + Ich or Rosenstolz and is more modern pop then rock. There are more tracks on the album like that for instance single ‘Ich sag night ja’ and beautifully orchestrated ‘Warum ich’. Not every track works out right that way though. A song like ‘Findelkinder’ (foundlings) or ‘Flieger’ call for a more bluesy voice that scratches, rubs and pinches. But with an excellent track like ‘Mein kapitän’ on the album (which is my absolute favourite) I won’t complain to much. With ‘Alles rot’ Silly’s been able to prove my prejudice wrong. They are skilful enough to make another rock classic album and some tracks on this album already hint toward that. And eventually Tamara herself gets a hats off on closing track ‘Sonnenblumen’: “where ever you maybe / you’re close to me / in flowers of the sun / you’re close to me”.


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Tocotronic - Schall und Wahn (Deluxe Version) 


Schall und Wahn (2010) - ♪♪♪♪
Tocotronic (Germany)

Their former album 'Kapitulation’ was the ultimate refinement of the new course they had taken since 'K.O.O.K’. Their music was more mature and hinted towards a college-radio sound. 'Kapitulation’ was a good album and certainly established Tocotronic as one of thé rockbands in Germany at the time. But the production on that album could take them two ways for the follow up. One is the safe Coldplay-route with slick but intellegent production. And opening track 'Eure liebe tötet mich’ (Our love kills me) almost makes that option come true. But while Lowtzow sings "Even if you repent / I do not forgive you“ midsection the guitars come wailing in, whipping up a storm. And then it comes clear that Tocotronic did not tuse the pleasant route but grapped back to their own nineties period and incorporates influences from the time when Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth briefly ruled the indie-charts. The album title is taken from the novel of Nobel Prize winner William Faulkner, who in turn borrowed it from Shakespeare's "Macbeth": "... life is nothing more than a fable told by an idiot, full of sound and madness, it means nothing.". In the book by Faulkner we follow the downfall of the Compson family displayed in inner monologues of three family members.

And the same can be said how Tocotronic build up the album flowing from intellegent pop, to psychedelic indie-rock, to glorious garage noise. This could be a highly dangerous mix. But they never falter and deliver a suprisingly balanced album. An album that holds a central theme that stands directly opossit to their former album, from 'Surrender’ to resistance. "The torture never stops / still we will prevail / we don’t have any feelings anymore / when we’re on the painbank ... from now on we will live forever" sings Lowtzow on 'Die Torter endet nie’ while a Edge-like guitar-riff and the JaKönigJas horn-section accompanies the band. It is clear that Tocotronic takes the barricades with words like "terrorist", "blood," "torture", "tyrant" and "poison". Their anger is focussed on religion, governement and the financial world: "Oh, beautiful greed and envy the most beautiful / most beautiful cowardice remains with me" Or people who blindly follow demagogic leaders "Sound and madness / I am your subject / I am dedicated to you / I am one of many ... nothing is lost / and when you return / I’ll follow you“. Follow into a anarchistic two-and-a-half minute frenzy displayed on heavy punk track 'Storm the castle’ where the battle-yell SDS (Storm Das Schloss) will haunt you. Tocotronic made this album without making any consolations for commercial pleasantries "I am the count of Monte Schitzo / and this is my way to sing this hit". Nine minute long 'Poison’ ends the album and the Berlin period for Tocotronic with a string arrangement made by experimental composer Thomas Meadowcroft. This is their musical world. And although Lowtzow warns us that there are "No more masterpieces" it doesn’t seem that the band’s artistic well has dried up yet....they’re just getting started. SDS!!!


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Unheilig - Geboren um zu leben - Single 


Grosse Freiheit (2010) - ♪♪♪
Unheilig (Germany)

Unheilig has a feel for the theatre. He/the band has been busy for ten years now and is principally build around the character, sole member and leadsinger Der Graf. Like with many Neue Deutsche Härte band (for all you international readers; think Rammstein) it is obvious that the lessons Joachim Witt laid out with his Bayreuth cycle mid-nineties hasn’t been wasted on Der Graf. Usually building around a central theme this time Unheilig takes to the sea. The teaser for the album is the song ‘Das Meer’ (The sea) (still viewable on his homepage) tells enough. Seagulls and waves can be heard while an old gramophone plays an old 78” record with a maritime melody. The foghorn breaks the silence violently while you hear an ego of a submarine. Can you feel the drama? Then the band gradually erupts into synth-themes and guitar riffs: “Come with me to the sea / to board on a ship / to see the world / to sail with the tide / to sail into the storm” and then choir starts chanting, the powercords go in overdrive and up goes the wall of sound. The maritime trick is repeated throughout the album like on ‘Abwaerts’ (Down) where the sound of the sonar echo comes back just on the point when der Graf growls ‘Tief’ (Deep) with power riffs thundering you down. Sounds familiair? Of course it does and I don’t think it is Unheilig’s mission to create an artistic experimental new record. But unlike most NDH bands der Graf also isn’t out to shock his public (well, maybe just a bit) but to entertain. Single ‘Geboren um zu leben’ is more pop then most other bands in the genre ever made. Just like tracks like ‘Halt mich’, ‘Heimatstern’ and the titlesong. He is a pop-count in a dark gothic segment of the music scene. Strip away the heavy industrial elements and you end up with a well crafted popalbum. No matter how loud songs ‘Unter feuer’ (Under fire) blast out of your speakers.


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Sylvie Vartan - Toutes peines confondues 


Toutes peines confondues (2009) - ♪♪♪♪
Sylvie Vartan (France)

Sylvie Vartan is one of Frances most iconic female singers. She started the yeah yeah years back in the early sixties and has never faded from the scene. Both her career and her personal life did not follow a path paved with roses. And her output has definitely not always been successful, both artistically and commercially. Especially during the seventies and eighties she released a string of doubtful records, but in the end she always bounced back.

Now the lady is back with RCA, the label where she started her recording career in the sixties and where she achieved her biggest successes. And it seems that both RCA and Vartan herself did everything they possibly could to make this enterprise work. It starts with the album cover, a fantastic melancholic picture of Vartan by famous artists/photographers Pierre & Gilles. This one picture is extremely well chosen and is a perfect impression of what to expect from the musical content of the record.

The album’s opening track – ‘Je chante le blues’ (‘I sing the blues’) is written by no one less than Carla Bruni, Frances first lady. A nice, mellow opener with lyrics that express self-consciousness:
 “Me, I sing the blues, although the blues is not for girls like me / Because I love the blues, even if the blues does not loves me / I'm too pale for the blues, I have neither the heart nor the voice / But my life is nothing but blues, three notes without reason”

There are some more of these lighter songs on the album - like the subtle ‘Il me semble’ (‘It seems to me’) and ‘Ce que je suis’ (‘What I am’) – but the more sombre, melancholic ballads are dominant.

The title track ‘Toutes peines confondues’ (‘All confounded troubles’) deals with separation and all emotions involved:
“By totaling, without any restraint / We’re not doing so bad / All confounded troubles/ In remembrance of us, I wish you to be happy / Bring the copy of my key, Just like that, for nothing, no, but never know... / For not to deny myself, I try to smile / it is less easy than I thought / But life goes on, all confounded troubles”

The song ‘L’amour avec des sentiments’ (‘Love with feeling’), with lyrics by Vartan herself, is another gem, in which Sylvie tells the story of a prostitute, desperately hoping for a better future, a future in which she finds a man that loves her with feeling:. En passant the song paints a beautiful but sad picture of this girl’s life:
“All people pass without seeing me / Or prefer to change the sidewalk / When I want so much to shout / I'm not the one you think / Look at me for just a moment / I am made of flesh and blood / I may be of better moral / Than those who lead a normal life”

It does not get any happier in the beautiful melancholic ballad ‘A laisser ou à prendre’ (‘To leave or to take’):
“There's nothing to understand / It is to leave or to take / We wait in vain / The fire always ends in ashes”

The album closes with an outstanding interpretation of the famous song ‘La chanteuse a 20 ans’ (’The 20 years old chanteuse’), originally by Serge Lama (and co-written with Alice Dona).

With ‘Toutes peines confondues’ Sylvie released one of her best albums since her 1996 all time high ‘Toutes les femme ont un secret’. For all you people who appreciate good French chansons: this record should not be missing in your collection!


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Westernhagen - Williamsburg (Deluxe Version) 


Williamsburg (2009) - ♪♪
Westernhagen (Germany)

Marius Müller-Westernhagen was never one of my favorite German singers as I always thought him sounding to slick and to much American MOR-rock. I guess Westernhagen felt the same because this new album was completely recorded in New York with an entire American team existing of Larry Campbell, Peter Stroud (guitar), Andy Newmark and Shawn Pelton (drums). And musically it pays of because the album sounds great at the start. Westernhagen's voice fits extremely well on the loose, flaky arrangements of "Williamsburg". The album is filled with funky bass and drums, bluesy guitars licks and C&W keyboards. But that is, in our book, also the downside because beside the point that it sung in German there is nothing Germanic about it. Credit where credit’s due the first four songs actually are very catchy and good. Within minutes you’ll be singing along with ‘Schinderhannes’ (“I’m crazy you know / I take no prisoners / and when I cry / it’s from happiness”) and ‘Mit beiden fussen auf dem boden’ (With both feet on the ground / you might come up again / you stand a chance / or else you’re dead”). See, even translated the lyrics stay intact. But then it goes completely wrong. Songs like ‘Liebeschau’, ‘Typisch du’ and ‘Zu lang allein’ are regular country and western dribble and the album does not recover of the shock after that. OK, he tries with a heavy bluesrocker on ‘Wir haben die schnauzer voll’ (Glory to the music / Cursed be he who deceives / greed is the death of art / In Cologne, we call the Pussi Punz) that would stand nicely on a ZZ top album. It’s the first album Westernhagen made on his own label and it’s a good effort but somehow the choice for Kevin Bents (known for his work with Bozz Scags a.o.) as producer was maybe not the wisest. Another (German) producer would have led the music into more adventurous waters. Still the first four tracks are great, download them on Itunes.


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