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Reviews Oct - Dec 2013

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Grać, Nie Srać (2013) ♪♪♪
Czesław Śpiewa (Poland)

Allegedly this live album is the last album the Czeslaw group wil make with singer Czeslaw Mozil. It is a record of concerts over the past 12 months featuring numerous guest performers. The whole two hour album falls into two parts and is quite a stretch because of its length. Czeslaw Śpiewa recorded material of all 25 gigs and sum it up as "Play, No Shit," The band undoubtedly wanted to prove this release. And so we get thrown from hysterical experimental fits to beautifull folky songs. It is all there, raw, unpolished. They play and give no shit. The first Cd has some of their greatest hits, the second rare and more atmospherically material. It underlines that Czesław Śpiewa is one of the more colourfull bands that Poland has to offer.

The live album is made without any concession. It may be there last act but the band goes out with a bang. Ruthless and in your face. If folk can be punk then Czesław Śpiewa gives us a good souvenir from 2013.

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Løve (2013) ♪♪♪
Julien Doré (France)

French singer/songwriter Doré opens his album with a song about Viborg, a city in Denmark, in a more or less anxious atmosphere. To get the intended pun it is good to know that Løve means Lion in Danish which explains why the king of the jungle graces the cover. It also explains the subtle haunting atmosphere on the opening track. But the album is less dark as one might expect.  The single Paris-Seychelles has a highly symbolic clip about love and a statement to fond memories, "I need you so, I will not let you go".

It’s the pain of love lost in foreign cities (London loves us) that turns out to be a central theme. That nagging feeling of things lost combined with the beautiful homogeneity of electro-folk bill gives the album a consistent tone of something obsessed and monomaniac. Sometimes the pain is contrary rage, as in the striking Hôtel Thérèse , mix recriminations and threats.  But what is most striking with this third album is that former Nouvelle Star contestant Doré perfected his own style. Something between Bashung, Delerm and Dominique A he brings us European pop with a French flavor. Within the diverse landscape of French pop it seems Julien evolves himself as a personality from which we can expect more in the future. For this Løve – album is an distinct step forward.

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Milyonlarca kuştuk… (2013) ♪♪♪♪
Candan Erçetin (Turkey)

This year, Candan Erçetin, one of Turkeys most popular artists, celebrated her fiftieth birthday. According to her latest album, there is no indication whatsoever that she is going to slow down in the near future, fortunately. The title of the album and opening track translates into ‘Millions of birds...’ refers to the millions of twitter messages (‘blue birds’) that dominated the news a year ago during the demonstrations at the Taksim Park in Istanbul.

‘Milyonlarca kuştuk…’ (‘Millions of birds…’):
“Whoever climbs the mountain range in selfishness / Let him know that his fate is to stay alone / Whoever is stored in the plains of ambition / But imagine the hunter becomes the hunted.”

The album cover shows a picture of Candan, dressed up in a regal red evening gown, walking through a lush forest. She has matured, is full of self-confidence, experiencing a creative peack. And she is clearly fully aware of it! She produced the album herself, Alper Erinç took care of recording and mixing it. Candan also wrote many of the lyrics and/or music of the songs. Apart from her own material, there are also a few interpretations of foreign songs:

‘Eğlen neşelen’ (‘Have fun, cheer up’) is a Turkish version of the old Yiddish song ‘Bei mir bistu shein’ by Sholom Secunda, and ‘Yaralı gönlüm’ (‘My broken heart’) is a Turkish version of ‘Misirlou’, a Balkan traditional composed by Nicholas Roubanis in 1927, gaining worldwide fame in Dick Dale’s surf rock version as part of the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. The closing track is ‘Herkes gibisin’, a famous poem by Nazim Hikmet set to music by Candan herself. Two tracks were composed by Romanian artist Sorinel Pustiu with lyrics by Candan.

Most of the songs are arranged very tastefully, with a basis of acoustic instruments and touches of modern sounds and beats here and there, but never out of balance. It is obviously a very Turkish sounding album, but it also contains many eclectic influences from the Balkan countries and Yiddish folk tunes. Beside the stunning title track, other stand out songs on the album are ‘Beklemeden’ (‘Without waiting’), a beautiful sad love song; ‘Kim deli’ (‘Who is crazy’), a nice mid tempo pop tune with great rhythms, bringing Turkish singer Yildiz Tilbe to mind, Candans interpretation of ‘Misirlou’ (‘Yaralı gönlüm’) again a great rhythmic track. And last but certainly not least the two closing tracks, ‘Gazel’ (‘Lyric’), a vocal improvisation, flowing into the poem ‘Herkes gibisin’ (‘Like everyone else’), on which Candan demonstrates her outstanding vocal capacities. The only track that detonates on the album is ‘Aşk’ (‘Love’), an overdramatic – and overproduced - love song. But the other fourteen tracks are Turkish pop at its best!

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Les chansons de l’innocence retrouvée (2013) ♪♪♪♪
Etienne Daho (France)

The songs of innocence found again. For his search for those innocent times the French king of cool pop-chique teamed up with producer Richard Woodcraft known for his work with the Last of the Shadow Puppets, Duffy and Radiohead (In Rainbows) and his longtime friend Jean-Louis Piérot at the mixing desk. The result is a lush orchestral pop adventure that seems to sum up what Daho did throughout his career added with a new dimension. The usual synthpop elements are exchanged for container of violins and cello’s. With soulfull background vocals. The result indeed brings back memories when artists used to do this all the time. A time when Daho was still an innocent little boy. With Gainsbourg’s ‘Melody Nelson’ probably on his pick up as an absolute masterpiece. The eleven ‘chansons’ that Daho serves cannot compete with that album but I do detect some comparisons. In terms of sound and detail this album is an exquisite listening experience. I can imagine why this project took so long to make because the execution is flawless.

At times, the reinforcement of Nile Rodgers or Debbie Harry create a subtle disco infusion around the dark romanticism. For one song Daho trades his place as songwriter with Dominique A who wrote the song ‘En surface’, a protest and provocation inspired by the illegal immigrant drama at Lampedusi. The album sounds less tormented then his previous ‘L’innoncence’ and his 2010 adaptation of Jean Genet poetry. According to Paul Royal it also sounds less ‘Daho’, somehow he feels that due to the perfective orchestral approach Etienne lost some of his characteristic sound and traded that for something that sounds like a James Bond soundtrack. I don’t completely agree on that. Indeed the album sounds not as spontaneous as some of Etienne’s other albums but songs like ‘L’homme qui marche’, ‘Un nouveau printemps’ and ‘Le Malentendu’ are brilliant on any album. And Daho remains the mysterious dandy through and through posing with a very scarcely dressed lady on the cover. Cool chique!!

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Silbo (2013) ♪♪♪♪
Féloche (France)

"There is a place where people speak like birds'  this location on the Canary Islands is the island of La Gomera on which Féloche  has settled, looking for Silbo practitioners, one of the few whistled languages of the world. No wonder the album opens with whistling sound. Three years after his Cajun-pop debut Féloche returns with a much bigger adventure. Elements of urban music, blues, texmex, rock, punk and Balkan beat are added to the mix creating a much richer album then his debut. Armed with his mandolin Féloche has grown, big time. On the album he gets help from other world travelers like Romanian actress  Rona Hartner  ( Mythologie ), King Coya  ( Es El Silbo Gomero ) and Ukrainian Oleg Skrypka (Je ne mange pas 6 jours) .

The album smoothly switches from acoustic instruments like Jew's harp, accordion, flutes and strings mingling with modern beats and breaks. Like displayed on the surprisingly urban hip ‘T2Ceux’  with rapper Roxanna Shanté, ‘NYC:ODC’, ‘On va ouH!’ and ‘Pax Optika’. Let alone the remix of the titletrack available only on the special edition of the CD.

Silbo has become a colourfull patchwork of styles, music and vocals. Dedicated Féloche strung the parts together: “I do not eat 6 days / I smoke, I drink / I fragrance I'm cold / I am delighted I bark / but the ball which in my heart /is not yet melted”. With Silbo Féloche shows himself pupil of Jacques Higelin as well as Bernard Lavilliers and Dr John. But then with a hip streak. Like a bird of paradise Féloche understands how to connect all separate elements to one colorful and coherent album. Chapeau.

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Bursa (2013) ♪♪♪
Fonetyka (Poland)

Three years after ‘Requiem dla Wojaczka’ Polish doompop band Fonetyka take up another poet to adapt for their album ‘Bursa’ after the poet Andrzej Bursa. One of the most common characteristics of poetry Andrzej Bursa was brutality, vulgarity and a striving to break all existing formal and thematic conventions. In his mind a text about love (Milosc) is a song about a couple trying desperately to conceive a child and therefor forget why they are together: “Buy him a dowry in pharmacies / and shops with tobacco / or would be postcards with a view of the mountains and lakes / in general care about him more than if there were”.

In his ideas human existence was evil and creating a new life a crime. Different then their debut this album is less an instant pleasure. Opening with an instrumental track ‘1932 – 1957’ (Bursa’s birth- and death- year) ‘Bursa’ just gradually lures you in. The single ‘Warszawa Fantom’ is kicking in as a good and catchy single but it is the second half of the album that impresses the most. Especially ‘Święty Józef’ is an impressive dark wave rocksong: “Catholic saints of all the most like Joseph / because he was not a masochist / or another pervert / only specialist / always with the ax “. 

For this album the band wanted to create an ambient almost sacral atmosphere, a soundtrack to a movie about Bursa’s life. Which maybe explains why the album ends with ‘Pantofelek’ sung almost like a liturgy in a church: “Children are kinder than adults / animals are kinder then children / say that the reasoning in this way / I have come to the assertion / nicer to me is the slipper / from you, you son of a bitch.” Even more then their debut the ghost of Joy Division and New Order is present on this album with its rudimentary guitar work and steady bass. The texts of Bursa are biting but when sung by the bronze voice of Przemyslaw Walczuk they get something soothing and pleasant. And since we don’t speak Polish the sting behind the lyrics eludes us sometimes. It is again an intriguing and artistically interesting album. And again a worthy tribute to one of Poland’s poets.

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J’ai l’honneur d’être (2013) ♪♪♪♪
Brigitte Fontaine (France)

Is it because 74 year old Brigitte is just loving to take a musical U-turn or is it just that she loves being a lice in the pelt of the musical entrepreneurs? The past decades she flirted with punk, rock, the dancefloor, with Grace Jones, with Sonic Youth, with Etienne Daho. You name it and she’s done it. One things for sure, never a dull moment with Europe’s grandmother of punkfolkpop. And now she returns to the musical spectrum she tackled in the Seventies together with Areski mixing jazz, poetry, folk and Arabic rhythms into one. And she knows she teases you. On the opening track she sings: “Straitjacket  / revamped crazy horse  / I'm Lola / I am a pariah / A XXX Alpha and Omega”.

Provocation has always been one of the favorite playgrounds of Brigitte Fontaine. On the album she aims her arrows  at religion with ‘Au diable Dieu’ (To hell with God). A daring attack over Arabic arrangements wave she punches the "cult of crooks", "Collabos picnickers teens", "candles lickers", In the end it is also a message of peace to God himself and a kick against the institutions behind religion.

In current gay rights debate in France she holds up a mirror to everyone violently attacking gay men on ‘Les hommes préferent les hommes’ : “Eros has had enough / Vamps and dolls / Many he must / Darts and dark eyes / muscles and coarse hair /violence and ass / Since they are all fags / Consider arming us /men prefer men / so much the worse for their balls / women prefer women / this is nice programming”. In a sarcastic manor she tries to emphasize the silliness of the current debate. But then she is the Pythonisse able to say whatever she wants: “In the forest that squeaks / the light of the moon crazy / sings a prophetess / brullants to red hair / I like the contrast / I'm a little poet / I stopped Bentley / I advance to the beast”. The album ends with ‘Pére’ written for her father, a tribute to a man "full of sweetness, purity in heart.". Brigitte Fontaine has the honor to be herself and we have the honor to listen to her music, time and time again.

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Who's bad? (2013) ♪♪♪
Die Goldenen Zitronen (Germany)

Ever since they started from a Hamburg squatters building back in the Eighties the musical output of anarcho collective Die Goldenen Zitronen has become more rich and diverse with each album. ‘Who’s bad’ is therefor a new logical step after their 2009 “Die Entstehung der Nacht’. Hints of NDW (Der investor), dark Techno (Ma Place), punkpop (Echohäuser) and rock blend together in a seemingly natural way. What did not change is the villainous sharp edge to the songs. Because there is still enough going on in the world that is in need of some social-political critisism. The bombs still fly, the CDU is still a big party, the car and oil industry is still ruining the enviremont, Europe is still in crisis and the class difference between rich and poor is still growing. Enough to sharpen your microphone on.

Schorsch Kamerun, political thinker, headpunk, and author for over ten years and successful theater director plays the nasty investor who wants to exploit the misfits: "You are the ingenious dilettantes / we your wealthy relatives." Over a background beat supported by electric hot dub sounds, a nasty tinkling synth bass and live drums brewing up an evil mix. Who’s bad indeed. Who is wrong and who is right nowadays? The world isn’t as black and white to them as when the Zitronen started. At the time life was simple and they positioned themselves at the far left of the political spectrum but nowadays they work from the center and neither left nor right is safe for their sharp perspective on the world. In answer to their question Die Goldenen Zitronen are after 30 years still devilishly good, and that’s not bad.

 

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Burzliwy błękit Joanny (2013) ♪♪♪
Martyna Jakubowicz (Poland)

Eight years after her tribute to Bob Dylan (Tylko Dylan) Martyna picks up on another great songwriter, Joni Mitchell. Released on November 7, the day Joni turned 70. Martyna picks up the songs and reworks in her own eclectic style of jazz, rock, folk and pop music. All Polish lyrics were written by Andrew Jakubowicz. Martyna’s fascination for Mitchell began at the age of 17 when she tried to practice her guitar work in her songs. She thought it only fit to celebrate this anniversary with an album of her songs. Most to the frustration of Andrew who allegedly had utmost difficulty translating the songs in Polish. The characteristic jazzy lazy vibe in Mitchell’s diction is something that is difficult to grasp. For the album Martyna set her teeth in some well known songs like ‘Bad dreams are good’, ‘Big yellow taxi’, ‘Woman of heart and mind’ and ‘The circle game’. It is the lesser known songs in which Martyna is able to erase the feeling that you’re listening to a Joni-cover album. Martyna takes on the same breezy way of singing but does not make a cheap imitation but rather gives her own sound to the songs. And that with the help of well-known personalities Polish music scene she creates and translates the intimate atmosphere needed to transcend the songs. Martyna is perhaps a marginal figure in the Polish music scene but one with a very pleasant edge to it.

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& Transoriental Orchestra (2013) ♪♪♪½
Kayah (Poland)

Fourteen years after her successful explorations of the Balkan gypsy brass traditional music with Goran Bregovic Kayah takes up a second excursion into world music. Together with the Transoriental Orchestra she dips into Jewish songs from various regions of Europe and the Middle East.  The impetus to start working on the material was an invitation to perform at the Singer's Warsaw festival by Atanas Valkova, film composer and music producer. He introduced Kayah to his orchestra where unusual instruments to popmusic were present like santur, oud, saz, lutes, flutes, whistles, and more. The geographical diversity was reflected in the music where elements from the Balkan, Persian, Slavic, African, and of course Jewish culture are mixed. It is also a variety of languages. We hear Kayah sing in Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino and Arabic.

The colorful show was a raving success which made Kayah decide to undertake a small tour and record the best pieces for this album. Mind you, if you’re font of the funky poppy Kayah this will not be an easy listen. From track one ‘Kondja mia, mia Kondja ‘ you know you’re in for something exotic, experimental, different and unique. Musically she switches from a modern approach on songs like the reggae-esque ‘El Eliyahu’, the modern dancy ‘Transoriental’ and the psychedelic ‘Ajde Jano’, back to more classic approach like the beautifull moody ‘De edad de kinze anyos’ and ‘Rebeka’. Vocally Kayah can cope with both musical elements perfectly, without losing control over her amazing voice she wears the Jewish material like a well fitted coat of many colours. She is able to even set the chewed out ‘Hava Nagila’ to her hand.

The strongpoint is that although this project obviously revolves around Kayah she places herself completely in service of the music. It is not ‘Kayah sings jiddische lieder’ but rather a mutual project of good musicians in which coincidentally they happen to have a well known Polish singer in their midst. On the bonus disc she adapts some of the songs in Polish and gives some a remix make over. This new project is a welcome return to the scene after five years since her previous pop album Skała. It is an ambitious return that may not appeal to all her fans. But if you’re fond of artists like Natascha Atlas, Rita and Ofra Haza and want that mixed with a European blend this album must be on your Christmas wish list.

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Moruša Biela (2013) ♪♪♪♪♪
Jana Kirschner (Slovakia)

We awarded Jana’s last album, ‘Krajina Rovina’ (2010), with 5 stars. It was the passionate, yet introspective trip of a successful singer-songwriter towards maturity and towards her (folk) roots. One can hardly call the album ‘easily accessible’, yet it gained Jana lots of critical and commercial acclaim. It took her again three years to come up with new material. Apparently, the writing and recording process were fruitful since she created not one but two albums. The first one, ‘Moruša Biela’ (‘White Mulberry’) was released just at the end of 2013. The second one, ‘Moruša Čierné’ (‘Black Mulberry’) will be released in the spring of 2014.

Both albums were recorded in two weeks session in Prague. Eighteen top musicians from the pop, jazz and classical music scene from the UK, Czech republic and Slowakia participated in the sessions: Miloš Valent, Marcel Comendant, Joseph Lupták, Boris Lenko, Brano Dugovič, Stephen Bugala, Rob Mullarkey, Tom Skinner and Nathaniel Keen.

Jana wanted to record an album without Western pop influences. So no traces of beats, synths etc. are to be found on the album. Instead, lots of acoustic folk instruments are present, like the violin, accordion, cello, marimba, clarinet and dulcimer. The albums were produced by British musician and producer Eddie Stevens, also Jana’s partner.

The first single from the album is ‘Sama’ (‘Oneself’), “a song that perfectly combines joy and sadness and perfectly represents the spirit of the album”, according to Jana in an interview.

On ‘Moruša Biela’ Jana takes us on a journey to her past – and that of her country. When listening to the album, you can almost smell the Slovakian hills and plains in springtime. If you close your eyes, images pass by of small wooden peasant villages in the middle of green plains with lots of flowers, birds and other animals.

‘Sama’ (‘Oneself’):
“Winds howl in me, a wild melody,  a devils laugh, like hungry wolves inside of me. /…/ Life as a wandering river, curls, curls, as a slippery black eel in the hands. / How strings have snared the destiny of man, but if you fear that you will never find the magic. / Happiness dissipates, like the smell of lilacs. Hey, remember this, it's just an illusion...”

The result is an intriguing, fascinating album that will not open up to you in just one turn. With every next turn you will discover more details, you will grasp the day-dreamy atmosphere more and more. But what beauty lies ahead at the end of the rainbow…

La Kirschner does not take us on a easy holiday trip, it is a vacation that requires an active and open minded attitude. For those who are not afraid of an intensive trip, this album will reward you plenty – and more and more with every next listening.

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Cirque (2013) ♪♪♪♪
Flip Kowlier (Belgium)

Flip Kowlier is always good in grasping the raw and gritty atmosphere of the Flemish countryside into music. A soundtrack of a society that hangs between past glory , decline and diligent workers . This time he has chosen the circus as a metaphor . Prompted by visiting a drizzly circus tent in the Belgian town of Mariakerke with his five year old son . After the more worldly pop of ‘Ottoradio’ this is a return to the clay of Izzegem. And a return to the sound of his debut album ‘Ocharme ik’ from 2001 . The Circus of Kowlier is populated by figures of all sorts. Some are new figures that accompany the dingy theater. As Detox Danny who leads the very worst orchestra in the world ever ( including corny shalilala chorus ) . Or Mario which Kowlier high falsetto asks forgiveness after a probably a Duvel infused drinking binge at the local cafe. Others are familiar faces like Dirk ( present on multiple albums) and Angelique ( who also was present on ‘In de fik’).

Yet Cirque is not a step back . Kowlier uses his experience to create a much nicer and warmer produced drama. Thanks to the use of horns and strings. Kowlier was for this assisted by Andrew Powell and his London Chamber Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios . It is commendable that Powell (known from the bombastic ' Music' and Kate Bush's ‘The Kick Inside’) is entirely at the service of Kowlier 's idiom . The past five solo albums taken into consideration Cirque is perhaps Flip 's most complete album to date . And places Kowlier in the league of those typical European vaudeville - pop artists like the Irish Gavin Friday , the French Jacques Higelin and Czech duo Hapka & Horačeck .

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Baron Samedi (2013) ♪♪♪
Bernard Lavilliers (France)

Album number twenty sees Lavilliers return to pure chanson and his fascination for the work of French poet Aragon. The 67 year old singer remembers his first reponse to the poet and his representation of the world split between "bourgeois"  and "beggar" , believers and non-believers, system and victims of the system. With a half century of companionship with the Communist Party, and often extolled in its early years by the anarcho-libertarian movement Lavilliers feels he has nothing left to prove but to return to his roots. With ‘Baron Samedi’ he shows he still as the sacred fire, awakening consciousness, over the ten songs "living, inhabited"  with enticing beauty of writing and subtle compositions. He poses questions of imprisonment (on Rest'là Maloya , an adaptation of a text by Alain Peters from la Reunion), life (on Survivre ) and the death of his mother, written down in the sweet tribute, "without flowers or crown".

The title track sums up why we have a soft spot for this French dark poet. Combining pop, with chanson and rhythms from Jamaica, Haïti and Africa (like the Malinese sounding "Tete Chargée"). "Baron Samedi" is the top track on the album and has something creepy, a mysterious tension, a hypnotic vibe. The story of Baron Saturday is based on a visit to Haiti, where the singer went to shoot a film about the post-earthquake. Baron Samedi is the Voodoo tradition present at cemeteries and alleyways. This mysterious figure is omnipresent on the island located on a fault, undergoing hurricanes, broken under a dictatorship but still vibrant with life and artistic output. With this album Lavillier took your journey to a broken island and found himself turning within and asking why he creates his art. In a recent interview he says: "The journey is not a goal in itself, it is rather a quest to meet others in often tense circumstances. It interests me because it allows me to question myself". With this album Lavilliers takes us with him to some of his inner thoughts and to show us that he lives again: “And when the sun / Like a wound / Made to night / When death reassures / And we live again / like a cry of blood / a cry Of Love / The battle is never over” (Vivre encore).

 

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Année zéro (2013) ♪♪♪
Helene Noguerra (France)

Six years after ‘Fraise-vanille’ Helena Noguerra, actress, model, author and singer, released his fifth album ‘Année zéro’ (‘Year zero’). For the album she collaborated with lots of other artists, like her ex-boyfriend Philip Katerine, Frederico Pellegrini, Jonathan Morali from the band Syd Matters and the duo Minuscule Hey. The album contains two duets: one with her famous sister Lio and one with actress Anna Mouglaglis, Despite all the collaborations, the album is primarily a personal statement from Noguerra herself. For the first time in her career, she wrote and composed most of the songs herself. She got her inspiration from the men in her live – each song is more or less addressed to one of the men she loved. In that perspective, Noguerra considers ‘Année zero’ as a new start of her career, something of a second debut album.

Musically, the album seems to go in all directions. Six of the thirteen songs were recorded in English, seven in French. There are some songs that resemble ‘old school’ Noguerra, like ‘If’, with is basically a lounge tune. And there are spiky pop songs that brings early Lio to mind, like ‘Mon Lucifer’ (‘My Lucifer’) and ‘We have no choice’, the earlier mentioned duet with her sister.

‘Monsier Paul’ is a soft, sweet tune, with Helena singing over a guitar. But the lyrics are quite the opposite: Helena is breaking up with her boyfriend because she thinks he’s not good looking enough.

Monsieur Paul:
"Dear Mr Paul / Go to bed, it is midnight / Yesterday, I loved you with a love so strong /
I never should have seen you naked before me / Before you, I come to tell you that I go /
Without you, I confess... / I found you too ugly.”

Another remarkable song is ‘Michèle et Michèle’, a duet with actress Anna Mouglaglis. In an interview Noguerra explained that she wanted to make a love song about two desperate girls. The song sounds like a Tarantino remake of a fifties black and white movie, the lyrics are intriguing, to put it mildly…

‘Michèle et Michèle’:
“On the balcony facing the sea / A cigarette in the forgers mouth / Sad Michèle, bitter Michele / They play with love, eye to eye / There is nothing to say / Room forty-seven , they fuck, they laugh / What else, what else dear / For that wonderful feeling / In Miami Michele and Michele / Girlfriends, girlfriends / There is no love here below / There is no love believe me.”

Noguerra sounds fresh and dedicated, the album contains a few really nice tunes. At the same time, it lacks a sense of unity to really have an impact as a whole. The production is rather basic. That works well on some of the songs, but it fails to realize some sort of connection between the collection of songs.

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Ja, Natuurlijk (2013) ♪♪♪
De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig (Netherlands)

The album title “yes, of course” is probably a hint to the unchanged formula the kids from the Jeugd use on this fourth album. On the previous ‘Lachende derde’ we wrote that the Jeugd perfected their smart mix of electroncis, hip hop and bizar naughty lyrics. In that sense the first single and opening track ‘Formula’ is an accurate description for the rest of the album. The formula consisting of eccentric raps full of colorful language, nostalgic synth funk and a minimal vintage synthesizer sound is almost what can be expected from the boys. Again the nasal voice of Vjèze Fur, cool  dandy wagger of Faberyayo and Willie Wartaal’s flow describe in an absurdist way their adventures in a Dutch urban city landscape. In its early days , the irony in their lyrics almost cheap. In that sense their style follows the more subtle tongue in cheek course they took two years ago. There is more room for ambiguity. Like their previous album the whole concept is catchy, tingling, throbbing and vibrant.

In a sense that is also a negative point since this album is a repetition of what we already know, it gives little innovation. That’s OK and success guaranteed but for an act that was able to shock, offend and amaze at the same time I expected somewhat more. An album that does neither any more is for a rebellious hiphop collective perhaps a bit of a missed opportunity. Still nice and tasty but it seems by now too much encapsulated by the establishment. Break those chains guys, suprise us, record a deathmetal album for all we care, annoy us, we know you can do it.

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Ett Språk För Dom Dömda (2013) ♪♪♪
Jonathan Johansson (Sweden)

An inbetweener they call it themselves, and not a true third album. Singer Jonathan Johansson and his co-writer Johan Eckeborn staged a rockmusical around the classic story of ‘Dracula’ at the Uppsala city theatre. And with his pale androgynous appearance Johansson has something of a vampire in him. ‘Ett Språk För Dom Dömda’ (A language for the doomed) is a synopsis in songs from that play and tells the tale not as a gruesome horror story but from a melodramatic perspective.

The album opens a love lost, a letter never read: “did you get my letter / I want to complete each sentence / did you get my letter / when I wrote I wished / all the colors came back again / I could breathe again”. But he can’t because the count is actually dead and forced to live in darkness in the underworld (I wake up, I thought I was asleep). He resists his urge for blood but midway the album the water rises (Vatnett Stiger) and he sings: “red lips / white skin / in our hands a plan / in great light /Area features / we are forced /we hesitate, we are doomed”. A new world opens before him “an immense desert /an abyss opens / a wonderful storm/ A language for those convicted / seven hundred strings / from a decreasing grave”.

On some songs Jonathan gets assistance from Rebecca Eckman adding colour to the cold sounds coming from Eckeborn synths. Because it was meant as a play not every song can stand on its own without the actual visual theatre effects accompanying it. It gives half the songs a tranquil effect and they sometimes can sound a bit stiff. Especially when you don’t speak Swedish.

But on the other hand there is that magnificent finale ‘Den branda jorden’ (The scorched earth). A somber bassline and subdued drum open the song where Dracula lures you in. The girls appear beside him warning for the coming dread “the black clouds / followed us / heavy upon us / erupt in front of us / with high flames /over the scorched earth”. Then the funeral drums kick in, dry and dangerous. Dracula knows he can never return to the woman who he sent that letter to, all is lost, he is forced to wander the scorched earth alone: “we will never go back home / there was a border and we went over / we can never come home again”. The strings, the cello’s, the singers erupt into a haunting and epic conclusion. In its utter perfection this song is worth a 10, an 11, a 20 and makes up for the somewhat ‘lesser songs’ and the rather short duration of this small sideproject. No worries, Jonathan and Johan are working on a new regular album to be released next year.

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Handen I fickan fast jag bryr mig (2013) ♪♪♪
Veronica Maggio (Sweden)

After the more international sounding Satan i gatan (2011) Veronica’s new album is more Scandinavian sounding. With the cryptic title ‘Hand in my pocket though I care’ she delivers ten new songs recorded with Salem Al Fakir, Vincent Pontare and Magnus Lidehäll. The album starts with the twinkling and uptempo ‘Sergels torg’ and it all seems to result in a festive popalbum. But sounds can be deceiving. Musically maybe it is an uptempo popalbum but the lyrics almost all concern relationships gone bad. The booklet shows Veronica wandering the streets of LA, lonely in the big city. Veronica may be dancing on Sergel square in Stockholm but her heart is broken: “Over stones at Sergel Square / where the sky is heavy with grief / I'm waiting though I already know / Everything has gone back to zero / Now the rain falls upon us / But the film begins again and again”.

Together with Håkan Hellström she remembers the good times when everyday was a party. But they have come up stronger and sing: “Everything is fine now / Walking around in t-shirt and is tired / Sitting at the piano between bottles, glasses and cigarette butts / Close my eyes until I glimpsed happiness and I know everything is fine now” (Hela huset).

With this album Veronica distances herself more from the common girlie-electro pop and cooks up more alternative pop. And with nice result because the interaction between the band and her crystal voice works great although I feel that with first songs it seems Maggio herself is a bit hesitant about her new sound and that makes the start of the album a bit awkward. As I if she isn’t yet in her element. Midway she gets a grip and the album opens up. Of course this is can also be due to my own biased expectation. And so the best songs are saved for last with the rocking ‘Trädgården en fredag’ and ‘Dallas’ that sounds like she has The Raveonettes as a back up band. It closes with two haunting ballads that are heavy with longing to meet someone. To find that prince that will take you home. “At a small bar I drink in New York, New York / Try to be tough but everyone understands / I fold my hand in my pocket and go / I'm looking in the room, hoping for someone to take me home / so that you begin to understand / maybe it should be you and me anyway”.

She knows there’s a soulmate for her and she clings to that idea: “I sometimes dream, I run in sand / There is dust everywhere / Nobody knows, nobody sees / One hundred kilometers home / The city owns us tonight / See you smiling, silent and cold / Hand in hand though we do not get each other”. Maggio continues the step to serious pop she made with the previous album with conviction and succeeds.

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Oniropagida (2013) ♪♪♪
Oniropagida (Greece)

Leave it to the Greek quality label Inner Ear to regroup one of the old alternative Greek indiebands of yesteryear and have them record a new album with old material. Or at least release it on their label. According to their press bio Oniropagida (Dreamcatcher) was a local favourite in the Nineties but presented their last life sign in 2000 with the album ‘Melodica’. The members spread out over the planet and eventually ended up in Athens, Toronto and Stockholm. Not the most ideal circumstances for a revival you might say. But thanks to modern times that offer us Skype and other online file-transferring platforms the band was able to present ten brand new songs. And thanks to that same world wide web we can now enjoy internationally the indiepop of this band. So what can we hear? First of all the info that this is a band that was founded in the Nineties of the last age is noteworthy. The alternative music of that era was very grungy and guitar driven. Shoegazing and grungerock might have had their best of times by 2000 but throughout of the decade it was a inspiration for a lot of European bands. These influences are still very much the core of Oniropagida’s music. Produced and mixed by the guitarist of the band, Hristos Lainas, the guitar is the core element on the album. In different flavours but with an emphasis on distortion and effects. To me the album has a nostalgic effect. Tracks like ‘I strofi’ and ‘To Teras’ take me back to the better tracks from Curve, Charlatans or Shellyan Orphan. Indeed shoegaze bands deep from the caverns of the Euro-indie-underground. Listen to the psychedelic guitar eruption on ‘Asximo Onira’ with layer upon layer of guitar and angelic delayed vocals. The nostalgic effect is not strange when one considers that the album consists of flashback material the was written immediately after their last album. The upside is that there were no concessions made to modern times (accept the recording sessions themselves) but the downside is that you can ask yourself if a great rocking track like ‘Athoriva’ is any fun if you weren’t young in the 20th century. Decide for yourself. The album is available as download or limited vinyl.

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En Varm Nats Kølige Luft (2013) ♪♪♪
Panamah (Denmark)

Fans of Panamah’s debut ‘Ud Af Stilhed’ and the breezy electropop they made on that album beware. Because for this album the trio made a style change that will take some getting used. En Varm Nats Kølige Luft or A Warm Night’s Cool Air is much more polished and produced then their debut. It seems that for this album Anders, Peter and Amalia took inspiration from Latin music and cool jazz. But before you say Caro Emerald let me assure you that Panamah stayed clear from being a copy of the boring twenties pastiche of that Dutch combo. Instead they took the coolness factor of the genres and incorporated that in their own electronic vocabulary. The effect is that the eleven tracks seem to slowly ripple and flow from your speakers. It has almost something organic. Like being on some tropical beach on warm night with the cool air breezing from the sea. In fact, exactly what the album title implies. The synthesizers en guitar personify the noise from the boulevard in the distance. It is never dominant but more subtle in the background, supporting the sighing and yearning voice of Amalia.

The DJ says nothing to her, she sings, and his music is way too loud. She rather dances by herself: “those who dare can always repeat the night before / a taxi home and then back again /I dance all alone / dancing with my shadow / Dj’s playing is never to me / it's a little too easy and the bass is too high /I'd rather dance at home in my basement /I'm probably a bit lonely but free /DJ your songs have nothing to say” (DJ Blues).

No wonder Panamah took a turn to a more loungy sound. The almost organic approach has a small downside and that is that you really have to sit down and play this album several times before it reveals its secrets. Like many cool latin albums the tension is subdued and hidden away. On the topside the music is ambient-esque and therefore it can easily sink into a musical background. All things considering Panamah made an interesting step forward to a more adult sound. Let’s see where this takes them in the near future.

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Renata Przemyk w Trójce live (2013) ♪♪♪♪
Renata Przemyk (Poland)

February 26th, 2012 Renata Przemyk performed at the stage of the famous Trinity Studio for the first time. The concert was recorded and published just a fews ago. For the occasion Renata expanded her Acoustic Trio, with whom she has been touring since 2009. Błażej Chochorowski (bass) and Maciej Mąka (guitars) are in the base of her accompanying band, but Krzysztof Pajak (keybords), Maciej Inglot (accordion) and Tomasz Dominik (percussion) were added to the band.

The set list consists of songs from almost all of her previous albums. Therefore the album is actually a best of – live. Opening track is ‘Babę zesłał Bóg’ (‘God sent Baba’) from her 1989 debut album ‘Ya hosna’. The set follows with many of her most famous songs, like ‘Kochana’ (‘Darling’), ‘Zero’ and ‘Blizna’ (‘Scar’). The songs have been rearranged for this live concert, so they offer a new listening experience and a chance to rediscover Przemyks remarkable oeuvre. This album follows the release of the album The Acoustic Trio, which contains old songs, stripped down and performed by Renata’s trio. In my humble opinion, this concert is to be preferred over the Acoustic album. It is slightly less bare, more vivid and dramatic.

The Przemyk songbook contains high quality pop songs. Throughout her career she never compromised her art, she stayed true to her vision: highly original song structures, impactful lyrics and, of course, that raw and emotional singing style. It is a small wonder in itself that she has been able to build quite a large fan base in Poland, since this is in no way mainstream pop music. This album showcases the remarkable artist with all her talents. The live versions can definitely compete with the originals.

Anyone who appreciates high quality pop music should definitely listen to Renata’s albums. And this live concert is a perfect album to start to get to know her. And older fans will definitely love the new live versions of their favorite songs.

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Viert (2013) ♪♪♪½
Eva de Roovere (Belgium)

I always placed Belgian singer Eva de Roovere in the cabaret segment. Not really pop but college singer/songwriter music meant for nerdy intellectual music lovers. A bit boring. Maybe a mistake but I blame the artyfarty incrowd that embraced her with her debut ‘De jager’ and would not stop extolling her virtues. With that in mind I was wowed when I started listening to her fourth album ‘Viert’. ‘Je raakt me’ is a dark track with echoing guitar licking over a funeral drum: “If you have the courage / you may never leave”. With a song like this we don’t want to. Because this is something else. Maybe a style change has been made under the influence of new producer Luuk Cox (who is in normal life drummer with Buscemi and also known as remixer Shameboy). He takes the chair from Jo Francken. Under his guidance a song like ‘Hoe zou het zijn’ knows an urban beat over which Eva reminisces about how it would be when the flame of a relationship slowly extinguishes. It sounds hip and intriguing.

Sometimes Eva’s new style even creates a tenuous eery atmosphere. Sweet and threatening at the same time. Like on ‘Luchtballon’ and ‘Water’ on which she sounds like a water nymph luring you in to drown you in her sweet embrace. Other songs get a bit of a Americana feel, without actually becoming that. It was Cox who persuaded Eva to leave the idea to translate and record only covers for this album. In the end only three remained ‘Robin’ is a Ron Sexmith song and ‘Water’ and ‘Telefoon’ were written by Bob Neuwirth (known from the Janis Joplin composition ‘Mercedes Benz’). She sings Neuwirths compositions with a voice and timbre that reminds of Emmylou Harris. Halfway the album some of her old college style pops up, of which single ‘Brekend glas’ is an example. To be honest, this song does little to me and is in fact one of the few weakest song on a further very convincing pop album. The sum of strong song material, a producer that does something else and Eva’s artistic experience deliver a great calling card how good Dutch/Flemish pop can be. Even if you don't speak Dutch. Hats off for Eva.

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Das Leben ist Schön (2013) ♪♪♪½
Schattenherz (Germany)

With ‘Regenrythmus’ Marianne Rosenberg finally blossomed her talent as pop star to the fullest as songwriter, artist and producer. This new project is, according to Marianne herself, something completely new. Together with Dirk Riegner she created the pseudonym Schattenherz to work without limits, no image, which curtails, no plan. Just her voice and a machine. The result is a minimalistic sounding album filled with restrained mysticism and  rudimentary gloomy synth pop. “Life is beautiful / and nothing is ever lost / We were born to be free ./ The truth of the world is behind the rainbow / But we worship only the appearance / Death is a river that flows with you back home / to the ocean / From the beginning / It shows you who you are , who you were and who you 'll be” (Das Leben ist schön).

The minimalistic and monotonous approach is something quite different to what we heard before from Marianne and maybe it was a wise to release this music under another name. But then, that voice, it is so distinct that it does not matter what she does. The crystal voice skids icy over the beats and synthesized strings. Like a gloomy version of Erasure. Sculpted in virtually the same rhythm sequence the songs follow each other like a procession. The only dissonant tracks are the French sung NDW track "Amour Fou" and the dubstep pastiche ‘Rufe meinem namen’ in which the speed is significantly increased .The bells sound for you to follow her as Marianne poses the question: “Are we really burned? / Are we like the ones they called heroes?/ Are we, like we knew each other again? / wake up / You can change everything” (Wach auf).

The thematic of the album seem to switch between hope and depression. Like the black & white coverart in the booklet. “Sometimes I 'm tired, nobody wants to see  / And I do not come down , because to turn the thoughts / Why I cannot understand itself  / I think that you 're my friend, / I think that I miss you / I think that I want to forget how my heart / If you 're not there , I feel empty.”. Marianne discarded the schlagerscene already in the Eighties but it seems this is the final wake up call for those fans that still cling to her disco-schlager hit ‘Ich bin wie du’. The German press is not overly enthusiastic with this new project. But Schattenherz should be seen as a  new experiment in her already large and diverse career. Marianne asks you to call her name and she will wake up a dark princess, a siren with a haunting voice, a German queen of pop.

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Ingen kan love dig i morgen (2013) ♪♪♪
Rasmus Seebach (Denmark)

Denmark’s biggest pop star Rasmus Seebach released his third album just before Christmas last year with the philosophical title 'No one can promise you tomorrow'. In 12 new songs he again plays with romance and love as central themes. Opener ‘Sandstorm’ sets the tone “Okay so go if you want, But it is the spectacle, You forget how well I know your gaze, You sir it's just memories, And memories disappears, Even those about you and me . I believe that love will find the way in a sandstorm . But you never believed in systems between Heaven and Earth”.

But compared to his previous album ‘ingen kan love dig i morgen’ is much more uptempo and merry with a solid soulfull band backing him up in the bouncy ‘Øde Ø’ or ‘En verder uden dig’. Gospelmusic seems another inspiration for this album with tracks like ‘Olivia’ and especially ‘Tusind Farver’ where he pulls an entire choir from his hat. This heartwarming epic track is the highlight of the album. With the autumn rain clattering on the windows Rasmus builds up the song until it storms from you speakers. “You are not alone / Sing , so we drown the silence / You are not alone / 1000 colors in the dark / life's fireworks / Sing , so we drown the silence / on a rainy day in November”. Rasmus doesn’t do drastic style changes. The darling of the public and perfect boy next door remains light White Soul from Denmark but he is damn good at it. And has this diverse sounding third album to proof it.

 

 

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Confection (2013) ♪♪½
Sebastien Tellier (France)

Music for an imaginary movie. A soft-erotic one where Coco looks for the love she needs so bad. She searches at the delta for the spring of her temptation and gets lost in the maze of her own lust. Of course above is utter nonsense but listening to the new Tellier project the music he constructed could well be a soundtrack for a movie like that. Based on three central instrumental themes, Adieu, Delta and L’amour naissant it is his tribute to composers like Francis Lai, Michel Legrand and Jean-Jacques Perrey. Especially the Moog driven mid section Waltz of the album is a tribute to that last one. But, since this is a soundtrack of sorts only the first installment of ‘L’amour naissant’ (Love wakes up) features vocals. The rest of the album is carried by the lush orchestral music delivered with the Macedonian Radio symphonic orchestra.

The reliving of the three themes from different perspectives turns listening to the album a fascinating journey where each new composition is the logical continuation of the previous one. It surprisingly never ends into monotony. It is the mystery of Tellier whose gigs can sometimes derail in complete chaos and babbling idiocy after which he finds a piano and comes up with the most beautiful melody. Like the piano stills the chaos in Tellier’s head. That said ‘Confection’ is quit a stretch for people who only know Tellier from the ESC or even from his previous album ‘My god is blue’. It is a project made with love but completely done from a personal perspective of the songwriter. I don’t believe this was meant to sell millions of copies but for people into instrumental music this is a real treat. A preparation or ‘confection’ for a warm blooded aural adventure. Listen before buying, either you’re touched or you’re not.

 

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Meticci (Io mi fermo qui) (2013) ♪♪♪♪♪
Ornella Vanoni (Italy)

La Vanoni has released a new album with new original material. And she has declared it will be her last studio album. The time and energy it takes to produce an album is no longer in proportion with what it brings her. Especially considering the fact that fewer and fewer people are willing to buy and listen to original albums. And I suppose the fact that La Vanoni will turn 80 (!) next year will also have something to do with her decision…

Anyway, ‘Meticci’ it is Vanoni’s farewell album. The subtitle speaks for itself: ‘Io mi fermo qui’ (‘I stop here’). The closing of a fantastic career, starting at the end of the fifties. She has released albums throughout seven decades! And she is one of the few artists that has never released a really awful record. Her albums were always of consistent quality. So, what does La Vanoni’s farewell album have in store for us? The album title refers to the term ‘mestizo’ (from the Spanish and Portuguese mestizo, mestiço) who were born from the intersection between the conquistadors and European settlers, typically Spanish and Portuguese, and indigenous pre-Columbian Amerindian populations. Nowadays the mestizos constitute the anthropological variety prevalent in most Latin American countries. Currently, the term is also used in a generic sense, referring also to other animal species, indicating individuals born from the crossing of two different races. In La Vanoni’s case it is a very logical title, since she has always produced very eclectic songs with many influences from all over the world: chanson, bossa, calypso, African rhythms, jazz etc. ‘Meticci’ is definitely no exception to that rule.

Mario Lavezzi, long time collaborator of Ornella, produced the album. He also contributed the music for opening track and first single ‘Basta poco’ (‘Just a little’). It’s an uplifting tune that starts with African chanting. Most of the tracks on the album were composed by the very young Italian artist Lorenzo Vizzini. Most of the lyrics were co-written by Vanoni and the same Vizzini. The combination of ‘young and old’ works remarkably well. But there are also contributions by other artists. Vanoni delivers a splendid interpretation of Franco Battiato’s ‘Aurora’. It makes you wonder why she has not recorded more of his songs – they seem to fit her perfectly. And she sings ‘Il bambino sperduto’ (‘The lost child’), a brand new song written and composed by Nada. One of the high lights of the album is ‘4 marzo 43’, an interpretation of the song from the late Lucio Dalla, a dear friend of Vanoni. Another highlight is ‘Costruzione’ by Brasilian protest singer-songwriter Chico Barque de Holland, whose songs La Vanoni already recorded in the past years. The eclectic character of the album is further emphasized by contributions of international guests like the Senegalese rapper Badara Seck and the Brazilian guitarist Julim Barbosa.

And what about La Vanoni’s singing? Okay, she does not sound like four or five decades ago. That is only natural. But what vocal range and power she has lost, she compensates with maturity and timing. And the most distinctive aspect of her voice she did not loss: the fantastic nuanced style! It all sounds so extremely warm and comfortable, it feels like putting on a long and warm coat in winter time. ‘Meticci’ contains all basic ingredients of Vanoni’s oeuvre. And she succeeded in adding some new ingredients as well. It is a stunning listening experience. It saddens me deeply to realize that I will never have the chance to experience a new Vanoni-album again… It is a fantastic farewell album. Hopefully it will be followed by an extensive international tour so all her fans can say goodbye to this Italian legend.

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Terra (2013) ♪♪♪♪
Jenni Vartiainen (Finland)

Obviously it is quite an event in Finland when the most popular singer releases a new album. And after her fantastic second album ‘Seili’, expectations were very high. And now, three years later, Jenni Vartiainen is back with ‘Terra’.

The album continues where ‘Seili’ left off. Again there is, of course, that hauntingly beautiful voice. And again there are the dramatic, mystical melodies, this time even more pagan and symphonic – almost bombastic - than ever. After listening to the first time, it sounds great, but also very familiar.

The album contains nine tracks and one bonus track, a Christmas carol. The opening track ‘Muistan kirkkauden’ (‘I rember the glory’) introduces the album perfectly:

“I remember how I once arrived at the star / Among the ancient children of the terra cycle / I remember past lives closely / And the queues at the gates of Hades / I remember the glory.”

After the commercial and artistical succes of ‘Seila’, Vartianen travelled a lot. She stayed in London where she visited a performance of Carl Orffs ‘Carmina Burana’. The choir of 400 people inspired her. She also traveled to the islands Lofoten in the northern part of Norway, where she stayed two years. These islands and the 25.000 people that live there mainly from fishing, were the perfect source for new songs.

The second song on the album is the first single: ‘Junat ja naiset’ (‘Trains and women’). It is a catchy tune that resembles Loreens ‘Euphoria’, the winning song from the Eurovision 2012. The lyrics tell a dramatic tale from a female perspective.

‘Junat ja naiset’ (‘Trains and women’):
“Stone churches and the iron gates and the face of the soldier / In front of the palace, where they guard the mighty ruler / They are like you, they remain still / But the trains and the women are created to run.”

Jenni created the album in collaboration with her small team, consisting of co-authors Jukka Immonen, Mariska and Teemu Brunila. Immonen also produced the album. The Czech National Orchestra provided the beautiful strings.

‘Terra’ is a worthy successor to ‘Seili’. But this time we are already familiar with Jenni’s sound so the impact is a bit less. Still, the songs are very well-crafted, the arrangements and production wonderful and Jenni’s vocals outstanding. This disc will definitely be played on repeat the first few weeks…

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Eony snu (2013) ♪♪♪♪
Urszula (Poland)

Urszula Kasprzak started her career at the beginning of the eighties together with famous Polish band Budka Suflera. Together with Kora (from the band Maanam) and Izabela Trojanowska she formed the league of new wave female singers. The four albums with Budka Suflera are still considered true classic albums in Poland. After an album with the band Jumbo in 1992, she launched a solo career in 1996 with the very successful album ‘Biała droga’ (‘White road’) and she has been releasing records every few years. Three years after her last one, ‘Dziś już wiem’ (‘Today I know’), Urszula is back with a new record, published by a major record label.

Despite the fact that her albums were released under her own name, Urszula has always been part of a band, rather than a solo artist. And her latest record is no exception to that rule. ‘Eony snu’ (‘Eons of dreams’) was recorded with a team of musicians that created a true band sound. Apart from the vocals, Urszula is playing percussion and Rhodes piano. The band consists of Slawomir Piwowar (keyboards), Michal Burzymowski (bass), Slawek Kosinski ( guitar), Krystof Polinski (percussion) and, last but not least, Piotr Medrzak (guitar, bass, moog). Medrzak and Urszula produced the album together. They also wrote most of the songs together (compositions by Medrzak, lyrics by Urszula). The album was recorded using analog equipment. It was mastered by Greg Calbi, known for his work with John Lennon. The sound of the album refers to Ursula’s most famous album ‘Biała droga’.

The album opens very strong with the title track ‘Eony snu’. It is an intriguing mid tempo rock song with the focus on guitar and harp (!). The following track ‘Pasujesz mi’ (‘You belong to me’) is an punky, up tempo rock tune. Urszula clearly wanted to prove she is still one of the leading rock singers in Poland… Than follows ‘Kamienie’ (‘Stones’) with a super-catchy refrain, bringing popular Brit pop acts like Stone Roses to mind.

After the three up tempo tracks at the beginning of the album, Urszula turns the speed a bit down with the ballad ‘Wiara’ (‘Faith’), which is actually one of the best songs Urszula has ever recorded. First single from the album was ‘Miłość’ (‘Love’), originally written by Urszula’s former companion Stanislaus Zybowskiego in 1992 and recorded in English as ‘I really have to go’ on the 1992 album with Jumbo. It is a strong touching ballad with mature, relativistic lyrics:

‘Miłość’ (‘Love’):
“I know, We will not make the best pair / And Mendelssohn's march does not play for us now / A Midsummer Night's Dream is a comedy of life / And our waking dream ever ends.”

The rest of the tracks from the album are consistently strong, with mostly mid tempo rock songs like ‘Emocje’ (‘Emotions), ‘Jak możesz teraz’ (‘How can you’) and ‘Ocean łez’ (‘Ocean of tears’). ‘Nie masz nic’ (‘You do not have anything’) is again a punky up tempo tune. The album closes with ‘My way home’, the only song sung in English and actually the only negligible song on the album.

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Achtung Fertig (2013) ♪♪♪
2Raumwohnung (Germany)

Four years after the somewhat mediocre ‘Lasso’ Inga Humpe and Tommi Eckart return with their seventh album. Four years in which the duo fled their home in Berlin and settled themselves in the sunshine state, in Los Angeles. Reason was a need to escape, to start fresh, to get things together. ‘Achtung fertig’ is the result. And we can say that in a way the music is the result of reviewing their past. And in Inga’s case that goes all the way back to Neonbabies and Ideal at the height of the Neue Deutsche Welle. Combined with cold German techno from the nineties and added with the positive energy from the sun this is what you get. Opener ‘Ich mag’s genau so” sounds like a manual for pop song without finery. It’s a simple beat with hi-hat’s hissing, reduced techno beats and Inga Humpe’s vocals flowing over them. It gritty, it’s rugged, it’s greasy…the duo returns to the basics and has no intention to polis and make it shine.

By letting their breezy side go they show a pure side that’s been hidden by all the productional glazing on the past albums. A song like ‘Gut’ is filthy and raw in a way, and that is good. They wanted to reach a new feeling (‘ein neues gefühl’) in their music and they succeeded in that. They found new frequencies but did not lose touch with their old sound. 2raumwohnung have freed themselves. The chains have been resolved. In the sea of pink (Gut), universal questions (Was sagt das Universum) and marvelous days (Wunderbare tagen) they took a dive and appeared riper then before. In their 13 years together ‘Achtung fertig’ is not only a look back but also a convincing continuation of their musical career.

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