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Clearance

Clearance At Your Leisure album review

Thinking about Chicago, the jazz-inspired post-rock scene pops into my mind. Experimental-folk, alt-country and avant-rock delivered by inspiring labels like Touch and Go, Thrill Jockey or Drag City. It goes without question that the city gave a home to burgeoning genres and outstanding talents throughout decades. Nevertheless, I was slightly surprised to hear the band Clearance also hails from Chicago.

The quartet has been around since 2013, but I just discovered them with their sophomore record At Your Leisure (out on Topshelf Records). And this album instantly got me. It sounds to me like a good friend from the 90ties, a comrade I’ve missed far to long. But at first, I wasn’t quite sure where this friend was actually coming from.

That’s because Clearance have a lot of familiarity and expertise to offer: there’s the slacker attitude of Pavement in songs like Destination Wedding or Gallery Glare. Jangly moments taking you back to bright guitar-pop made in Britain. But then again slightly dissonant and complex sounds referring to Sonic Youth. Furthermore, there’s is a good feel of Kiwi-pop in the mix: strumming guitars with breezy tunes full of earworms.

It’s all thrillingly unpredictable what Clearance have to offer and it all sounds pretty organic and easy. And now writing this down, it makes perfectly sense this band is located in Chicago. This place has always been one of the best for innovative and reflective musicians and a good breeding ground for freewheeling indie rock bands – just like Clearance!

22nd October 2018

Reeperbahn Festival 2018

Reeperbahn Festival 2018

Reeperbahn Festival 2018

The Reeperbahn Festival in my hometown Hamburg is always a spectacular event. Drifting along the Kiez of St. Pauli, checking out various live acts in different venues and meeting lots of wonderful people like my dear colleague and friend Alice Peters-Burns (Kaleidoskop/Offbeat) is simply hard to beat. Although it’s not always easy to take a decision on what to do as the four festival days are more than packed: music-related events in the fields of photo exhibitions, literature and films compete with networking events, meetings, award ceremonies, parties and numerous concerts around the Reeperbahn. Of course, I set a focus on seeing live shows. So, here’s a short summary of what I like to share with you.

Anna Burch

Detroit based singer-songwriter Anna Burch played in a venue next to my beloved radio station ByteFM and surprisingly she changed her bob hair into a simple short cut. With this new look she could’ve easily been mistaken for Greta Kline of Frankie Cosmos. Only Anna Burch has a different, rather cool charisma. Besides that, she presented her upbeat dreamy slacker-pop with the elegant upright posture of a dancer and did a good job. Everyone seemed happy when the minor hit-single Tea-Soaked Letter resounded by the end of the show.

Halo Maud

Halo Maud live Reeperbahn Festival 2018 Angies's Night Club HamburgAlors mes amis, the music scene of France got some extra attention during this year’s Reeperbahn Festival with exceptional talents like Halo Maud from Paris. Her debut album Je Suis Une Île is a hazy mixture of proggy French pop and psychedelic. It really makes no difference whether Maud Nadal sings in her native tongue French or switches to English. She clearly found a voice of her own and developed a memorable style. Seeing the band live as a four piece, it was more than easy to get into it. The rhythmic power drew you into the songs while the performance created a pleasantly seamless sound experience. Fact is, the dynamic of a show slows down and people’s attention quickly drift off due to re-tuning or change of equipment, but not here: Halo Maud have put some good thoughts into their live set and kept the energy flowing from start to finish.

Okkervil River

Some other extraordinary venues were added this year to the thirteenth edition of the Reeperbahn Festival, beautiful locations with pretty difficult sound qualities: The show of Okkervil River was set up in Hamburg’s largest main church, the Michel. Up to 2500 listeners fit into this place and the reverb of this huge building is just as overwhelming. Therefore simply too much for electrified music! The band tried to adjust and played a stripped-down version of their songs – nevertheless the sound was awfully blurry. Only when frontman Will Sheff wandered amidst the community, singing unplugged to his battered looking acoustic guitar, my ears were delighted.

Michael Nau & The Mighty Thread

I also expected Michaul Nau to play a cosy acoustic set, as his late-night performance was due in the St. Pauli church – but he and his backing band The Mighty Thread played a pretty solid and straightforward show. Compared to the famous Michel, this neighbourhood church is a modest building. Luckily the reverb here was not as harsh and suited well to the rolling organic vibe of Michael Nau. With his crazy hair and reddish full beard, the songwriter from Maryland had the looks of a classical Russian author of the 19th century. But he’s a contemporary master of profound laidback songs. Not sure if the seated situation worked best that night for Michael Nau & The Mighty Thread, but for me it was ideal sitting down at the end of a long festival day and quietly tapping my foot along to the soulful, meandering melodies.

Liza Anne

Liza Anne live review Reeperbahn Festival 2018 @ PrinzenbarAnother good thing about the Reeperbahn Festival: it works without headliners. Only a special guest was shortly revealed on Friday – the British rock band Muse. While they played music for the masses, the real pleasant surprise happened next door at the Prinzenbar. In this dimly lit, tiny little room in Baroque-style I witnessed Liza Anne, a songwriter from Nashville TN. She got on stage with a pink overall and a red beret. Her three band mates all had work clothes in red. And yes indeed, they were hard workers: they played a tight show with a great energy and really nailed it. I walked home thinking that the future of indie rock is definitely female fronted.

Generally, with up to 600 shows in the mix, there’s a lot to see, but also much to miss out. However, it’s a small comfort knowing the Reeperbahn Festival will be back in 2019. Then, the musical focus is set on Australia – another thing looking forward to!

28th September 2018

Shy Boys

Shy Boys Album Review Bell House (2018)

Oh well, I’ve been caught up by too many things and completely neglected my blog – sorry for that! It’s not dead yet. All I needed was a good reason for getting back into the writing business again and here it is, thanks to Shy Boys and their outstanding new album Bell House.

 

My colleagues at ByteFM already described its brilliance in a top-notch review in German. But I have to express my own excitement about this record here for you and for the music geek in all of us. So here we go: Shy Boys are a quintet from Kansas City and I know there are some very fine bands hailing from this area like The ACBs or Ghosty and also The Coctails were once founded at the Kansas City Art Institute before moving to Chicago.

And now we have Shy Boys, five guys singing sweet little, affirmative songs in perfect harmonies and I’m not at all surprised to see, that two bandmembers also play with The ACBs: there’s a similar feel to it in terms of sound and shape. But here on their second album, Shy Boys are taking the notorious indie-pop to a higher level and created nothing but a little masterpiece. It’s all good, from start to finish filled with musically nimble songs.

Of course, it’s easy to pin down some glorious influences: The Beach Boys moments, the sense of harmonic structures from singing in the church – but all this put together in a very gentle, upright and beautiful intimate way – it’s simply hard not to fall for this. While lead songwriter Collin Rausch sings about childhood memories and reflects on mundane things in life, the band creates an atmosphere of creativity and faithfulness, all in the sake of the unspoiled pop experience. I’d say you can hear there’s a quality in all this which only evolves over time when there’s a special connection between all band members. And indeed: Shy Boys is the product of five best friends (two of them brothers) who manage to combine all the soul-feeding harmonies and strong songwriting with an almost natural, effortless touch. It’s a very special thing, please check it out!

23th August 2018

SUPER 8 – Interview

Super 8 Interview Futureman power pop BMX Bandits one-man band

It can be a real challenge, doing research for my radio show about new or less known artists. I’m always curious to know more about the people behind the music and like to pass on some extra details to my bright listeners. These days, you might think, any information is easy to find online. But no: often enough, I have very little to work with.

This was also the case, when I first listened to the fabulous song collection on T-T-T-Technicolour Melodies! by SUPER 8 – there was almost no background information available. But as it happened, I shared direct messages with TRiP, the artist behind SUPER 8 and luckily, he didn’t mind me asking some nosey questions!

 

When did you start playing music? 

I was given a cheap, catalogue guitar when I was a kid and, although it intrigued me, it was more of a prop than an actual working instrument. I got a better guitar when I hit my teens and started to take music-making more seriously from there on in (especially when I realised that music came fairly easily to me!)

Any band projects we should know about?

I was in bands when I was growing up in the North West of England. I would stand in on bass, I even tried to convince myself I was a lead guitarist for a spell but, looking back, it was just a rite of passage …. It wasn’t until I left the North West and moved to Scotland around the turn of the century that I decided I wanted to try and make more of a go of music (which also coincided with me actually singing my songs for the first time – prior to that I had never sung publicly before).

I’d like to know more about the details of your latest album T-T-T-Technicolour Melodies! – Are you a one-man-band (who plays Cello and Trumpet)? How did you manage the process of recording?

Ha! Ha! Yes, I’m a one-man-band Jack-of-all-trades/master of none! Everything on the “T-T-T-Tech Mels!” album is just Me, Myself & I. That said, writing, performing, recording and producing everything myself wasn’t something I consciously set out to do – it just happened. Moving north of the border, I didn’t know anyone to begin with so I just fell into doing stuff on my own as in: “I’m hearing cello on this latest song but I don’t actually know anyone who plays cello so I’ll just have to hire one and try to play it myself!” As with pretty much everything I play, the fact that I have no formal training nor practical/technical experience when it comes to playing it doesn’t seem to stop me. I’m really just making this up as I go!

Apart from being colourful, how would you describe your sound as SUPER 8?

As a writer, it tends to start with just a snatch of a basic vocal melody with a loose acoustic guitar accompaniment. Once I’ve mapped out the rough shape of a song, I try to let the song tell me where it wants to go rather than the other way around! Sometimes it doesn’t need much more than where it originally springs from acoustically (like tracks ‘To Morocco’ & ‘Just A Serenade’ for example). Other times a song gets to get ‘the works’ (eg: backwards loops; glockenspiel; kitchen sink?!) just whatever suits and is right for the song really!

You name The Monkees as a major influence – why them? Aren’t they just a silly boy band, a retort product made for the masses? 

Yeah, of all the amazing bands out there it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek I guess to pick The Monkees as a major influence but I guess they are! I used to watch The Monkees TV repeats as a kid – it was my favourite programme. I guess they just stuck with me (plus they had some amazing songs!!!)

Any other important influences or bands you like to relate to?

I was brain-washed as a child with a diet of Beatles/Stones/Kinks/Simon & Garfunkel and Neil Diamond (I found The Monkees all by myself – LOL!) Growing up when a lot of my peers were embracing the whole New Romantic movement I instead found myself gravitating back in time to the music of: T-Rex; Bowie; Neil Young; James Taylor; etc. I suppose the first band of ‘my generation’ that moved me musically was The Smiths and, from there, I began to find my niche. I got the jangly guitar bug from C86 onwards. You’ve got to love a bit of McCarthy et al on occasions! I actually love & appreciate loads of music from Classical to ‘cheesy’ 60s Bossa Novas through to the cut-n-paste audio mash-up montage work of acts like The Avalanches but the stuff I keep coming back to, the music that really floats my boat I guess, is great songs by predominantly guitar-based bands! Think: Beatles; Beach Boys; Big Star; The La’s; Teenage Fanclub; Elliott Smith; you get the idea!

 

You covered Serious Drugs by the BMX Bandits – why did you choose this song? 

Err, it just sort of happened really! It came up on an old mix tape a while back. I hadn’t heard it in some time but I still remember buying it when it first came out after hearing it on the John Peel show. It was one of those songs that instantly ‘struck a chord’ with me on first hearing – it has everything that constitutes a GREAT song in my book! Anyway, it must have been working away on my sub-conscious as, the next time I picked up a guitar, I started playing it (albeit with the wrong chords to begin with!) I’m not really known for doing cover versions per se (what time I have to make music is usually spent writing my own stuff) but it seemed to make sense that I try and do it justice and give it a go. It didn’t take very long to come together which is always a good sign for me. I was honoured to discover recently that the guys who actually wrote said song (namely Duglas T Stewart of BMX Bandits; Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub and Joe McAlinden of Superstar fame) wholeheartedly approve of my rendition. I’m not worthy!

For your own songs, it feels like there’s some autobiographical stuff coming in? 

Yeah, I guess drawing from personal experience does have a habit of creeping in but I do try to keep an open mind and write from different perspectives too.

S.K.Y. is quite a thoughtful song, what’s the story behind this tune? 

Someone I knew was in a difficult place. I couldn’t find the right words to say at the time but, with guitar in hand, this song just presented itself. Music is weird like that (weirdly good!)

Do you play live shows?

Like I say, I was in bands when I was younger. When I first moved to Edinburgh I used to play on the acoustic open-mic circuit (KT Tunstall’s Cowgate sessions and Paul Gilbody’s ‘Acoustic Edinburgh’ nights for example) but these days I find playing on my own acoustically is quite limiting. I’ll be playing and thinking: “Where’s the trumpet solo?” “Where’s the double bass?” In fact, the last ‘proper’ gig I did was back in 2006 supporting ‘The Stylistics’ at Dunfermline’s Carnegie Hall. They had a full 13 piece band on stage whereas I just rolled up with my acoustic and a harmonica – it was quite daunting! I’m not ruling out the whole playing live thing for the future but you have to wear a different hat. I’m definitely more ‘at home’ in the studio nowadays.

How come you ended up with Futureman Records, a label in Detroit? Do you actually need a label these days when there’s Bandcamp?

The whole business of music is SO different nowadays. Deep down I’m still ‘old skool’ in my tastes I guess. As I say, I’ve become a bit of a studio hermit over the years! I hadn’t really planned on being on a label so wasn’t actively seeking one out but, off the back of my BMX Bandits cover as it turned out, I was approached by Futureman Records’ head honcho Keith Klingensmith and, after checking out his label I thought: “Yeah! Why the hell not?” With bands like The Hangabouts signed to the label, I guess it’s put a new spin on things for me. It’s no longer just me tinkering away in my home studio, I sort of feel part of an international music club with proper deadlines to meet and stuff! It’s all very professional (even though it’s not – Ha! Ha!)

Any idea, why power-pop is such a male dominated thing? To me it seems like girls are very present in the songs, but never play instruments…

To be honest I don’t even know what ‘Power Pop’ is! Great songs are great songs regardless of genre tags & pigeon holes. Is Lindsay Murray (also signed to Futureman Records) ‘Power Pop’? She’s female, she plays a Rickenbacker … does that make her ‘Power Pop’? I really don’t know! If girls wanna BE ‘Power Pop’ then, hey, take out a loan, get your folks to remortgage their house or whatever it is you need to do to be able to beg, borrow steal said seemingly pre-requisite Rickenbacker then write some (good!) songs and just BE ‘Power Pop’ ladies (or not!)

What was the first and the very last record you bought?

Serious Drugs’ by The BMX Bandits on 7” vinyl in 1993 (LOL!)

What are your plans for the future?

I’d just like to be able to eke some kind of sustainable way of being able to do what I love which is making music. The way things stand, music just doesn’t pay the bills … at all! It would be great to be in the fortunate position whereby writing songs is just ‘what I do’ and a means to just getting by.

Best of 2017

Best of 2017 Corridor, Mauno, This is the Kit, Onmi, Hands Habit. Brent Cash, Crepes, Faith Healer

Here I am, doing it all wrong again by releasing my Best of 2017 list way before Xmas. Every year it shows, that I discover fabulous artists with some delay and I feel sorry these albums are missing the list, only because I wasn’t quick enough! Like in 2016, I failed to mention these excellent records:

Merk: Swordfish (self-released)
Snails: Safe in Silence (Fearl Child Records)
Minta & The Brook Trout: Slow (NorteSul)
CaStLeS: Foresteering (Hafod Mastering)
Ben Reed: Station Masters (Gare Du Nord)

If you haven’t heard of any of those artists, please check them out!

And here they are, the winners of the 2017 Golden Glades award:

 

Corridor: Supermercado (Requiem Pour Un Twister)
Mauno: Tuning (Tin Angel)
This Is the Kit: Moonshine Freeze (Rough Trade)
Brent Cash: The New High (Marina Records)
Raoul Vignal: The Silver Veil (Talitres)
The Parson Red Heads: Blurred Harmony (Fluff and Gravy)
Crepes: Channel Four (Deaf Ambition)
Sweet Baboo: Wild Imagination (Moshi Moshi)
Andrew Taylor: From The Outside Looking In (Rock Indiana)
Hand Habits: Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void) (Woodsist)
Omni: Multi-Task (Trouble In Mind)
Faith Healer: Try (Mint Records)
Balduin: Bohemian Garden (self-released)
The Proper Ornaments: Foxhole (Tough Love)
Travis Bretzer: Bubble Gum (Human Sounds)
Baby Island: Break the Lease (Hello Records)
Human Heat: All Is Too Much (Offline Records)
Midnight Sister: Saturn Over Sunset (Jagjaguwar)

Of course this list is a purely subjective affair, but if you feel like I missed a highlight, please let me know!!

Also worth checking out: the voting of my ByteFM colleagues
best songs & best album

Reeperbahn Festival 2017

Mauno live @Kukuun Reeperbahn Festival

Reeperbahn Festival 2017

When the Reeperbahn Festival first started in 2006, I was actually part of the line-up with my band Kajak. And it was quite interesting for us to play, because it was not a common local gig: we played in Angie’s Night Club – a glamorous venue I never set foot in before. And during the show was not a single familiar face in the crowd. For me it felt like playing on a different planet, although my apartment was about 100m down the road.

To be honest: back then I never thought the fairly ambitious concept would work out, trying to establish a hybrid of conference and music shows on an international level, like a German version of everyone’s festival darling SXSW. But obviously, I was wrong! The Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg grew steadily and by now is well known as Europe’s largest club festival. This year’s 12th edition set a spotlight on up-and-coming bands and artists from all over the world, and I was very curious to check some of them out during the four festival days in late September. Here’s what I like to share with you:

Mo Kenney

Canada is currently celebrating the 150th anniversary of its confederation and it was a smart move from the festival to set a focus on to this country, because it has a thriving music scene and lots of interesting acts to offer. Like Mo Kenney for instance: She and her comrades played a pretty tight and catchy power-pop set in the early afternoon. There were feet tapping and heads nodding across the room while Mo Kenney moved through her tunes with a certain easiness – I only wish she played a few more songs!

Mauno

Next up was Mauno (see photo), also a band hailing from Nova Scotia. I set my golden ears on this act in 2015 when they released a batch of very first demo songs via Bandcamp and since that time the Canadian quartet defined a remarkable sound of their own: complex, but with a great sensibility for pop and dynamics. Initial sound problems plagued Mauno’s set as the power supply went off several times. And I’ve seen other bands getting nervous or angry about these kind of technical issues, but not here: Mauno didn’t mind to improvise, it’s part of their music and they handled the situation like experts: “The power’s telling us a lesson” said singer/guitarist Nick Everett at one point. “If you have power, use it wisely” – true words. In the end, they managed to play an elegant set of deconstructing pop with just the right amount of haunting intimacy. Watch out for their new album  “Tuning”, to be released in October.

Superorganism

After this first highlight it was time to hook up with my friend and colleague Alice Peters-Burns. If you’re not already familiar with her, please tune into her radio show Kaleidoskop on ByteFM or Offbeat via NovumFM. As well, she runs a fabulous blog where she features music off the beaten track.

The first thing we witnessed in the eve was a new thing called Superorganism. The word is that this group comprised of eight members from all over the world and is fronted by a 17-year-old Japanese girl from Maine. Smells a bit like the next big thing? Well, Superorganism just got signed to Domino Records and here at the Reeperbahn Festival they were thrown in at the deep end by playing their very first live show in one of the bigger venues in town – and I can report: they didn’t sink, they did a pretty good job! If you’re a fan of infectious electropop tunes, you might love this buzz band Superorganism. Supported by visuals, playback und three punchy background singer/dancer, the show was colorful fun from start to finish.

King Creosote

Alice and I floated on to King Creosote at the Imperial Theater. Here it was more than suitable to sit down in fluffy chairs while listening to the bard of Fife alias King Creosote who apparently, just shaved his head completely bald. Furthermore, his music was stripped down to a solo performance with acoustic guitar and voice only. He played a bunch of honest and wistful folksongs with lovely banter in between – all this worked well for King Creosote.

Jane Weaver

Quite interesting was the response to Jane Weaver’s show late at night: some people grooved along to the music, others just closed their eyes to get lost in it. And both was fine. The elusive songwriter’s been making music for 20 years now and her latest release Modern Kosmology was an ambitious piece of unearthly psyche-pop and futurism. Surrounded on stage by a tight backing band with Kraftwerkian beats and analog sci-fi sounds, Jane Weaver had enough freedom to present her pop gestures in the likes of Kate Bush. It was a performance you don’t see very often these days and I was surprised, the club was not completely packed with people. Hopefully next time.

Marika Hackman

The other night Marika Hackman rocked out with her band on quite a different level: no fancy dress or make-up like Jane Weaver, only basic t-shirts and simple hairstyles. But it fit perfectly to the 90ties inspired American slackersound she played, some of them in the spirit of Nirvana’s softer side. But still, the live sound was heavy enough to move and bob along with the songs, and especially the fan crowed upfront was really into it.

All We Are

Later on, the stage was invaded by All We Are, a trio based in Liverpool. I never really liked their records, but my friends Alice knew better as she met the band before. And indeed: the live sound was filled with energy and catchy hook lines. And I quite enjoyed the fact, that the drummer stood while playing. All We Are delivered top notch festival entertainment, although I left with a feeling that they were trying a little too hard to please everyone.

Aquaserge

Probably the best thing about visiting the Reeperbahn Festival is simply drifting along. All (70+) venues are within walking distance and there’s a lot of great stuff to discover. Of course, the schedule was packed and I missed quite a few acts I badly wanted to see. But as well I popped into unknown shows and made completely new discoveries. Thanks to that I fell in love with a French group named Aquaserge: they were mind-blewing! With five performers dressed in costumes, Aquaserge delivered a hypnotic show with analog keys and (bass-)clarinet. Lots of effect pedals served the psychedelic paradigm and when the polyphonic voices came into the mix, it felt like they’ve found the sixth sense of music. Imagine Stereolab with Tortoise as experimental jazzy shapeshifters, you may get an idea, what Aquaserge is about.

Thank you, #RBF17, for putting on this great discovery and all the other fabulous artists. See next year at #RBF18!

 

Andy Shauf live review

Andy Shauf live Winterthurer Musikfestwochen

Andy Shauf @ Wintherthurer Musikfestwochen 2017

 

Last weekend I took the train to Winterthur about 90 minutes NE of Bern, to pay a visit to the city’s annual Musikfestwochen. The name “Musikfestwochen” sounds like an earnest classical affair, but don’t worry: this neat and predominantly free festival started in the seventies as an alternative music event and proudly celebrated its 42nd edition this year with 12 days of music and a nice selection of local and international acts. Thankfully the rainfall stopped in time and the sun came out again when I found myself in the historic center of Winterthur on Saturday to watch the Canadian singer-/songwriter Andy Shauf. He released the most impressive concept album last year based on a party, filled up with sophisticated string arrangements and mesmerizing melodies. Furthermore I was curious to hear, how this intimate, soul-feeding gentle pop works out on a Swiss festival stage.

Of course, you figured out by now that the Winterthurer Musikfestwochen is not a common festival. Apart from some notorious hipsters the audience is pretty mixed, more like a social event for all ages. And the whole setting is nice and comfortable, with many stalls to get your beer from the local “Chopfab” brewery or traditional Swiss food. All this works well for Andy Shauf. When he enters the stage, long haired and coupled with a trucker cap, he looks like the young J Mascic of Dinosaur Jr. But this first impression on Andy Shauf from Regina, Saskatchewan is leading to the wrong path: instead of furious feedbacks he prefers tone over volume and creates an emotionally resonant and captivating performance from the first minute to the end. His narrative style is accompanied by a full band which includes not only one, but two clarinet players and they capture the studio sound of the record surprisingly well: all the subtleties and melodic lines sound perfect and the audience pays decent attention, although most of them probably had never heard of Andy Shauf before and want to see the other acts of the following evening.

While the sun sets down, the Irish songwriter Glen Hansard puts on a solid one man show for the lovers of more roots inflicted singer-/songwriting tunes. Thereafter it’s time for another renowned artist from Canada: Feist is closing the night with a glamorous show, performing songs from her latest album Pleasure. I’m surprised how relaxed she keeps chopping her guitar and how she enjoys talking to the audience in-between songs. But when I head back home, it’s the empathetic sound world of Andy Shauf that keeps spinning in my head.

Anyhow, it looks like I’ll be getting on the train again in August 2018, when another round of music and celebration hits the lovely town center of Winterthur.

Make-Up in der Betonwüste

Primavera Sound Festival 2017

Das Primavera Sound Festival 2017

Ich hatte es geahnt, und deshalb war es längst überfällig gewesen, endlich einmal auf das Primavera zu reisen. Denn all das, was ich nicht mehr sehen möchte, sucht man hier vergeblich: Etwa Bierleichen, die sich bereits zu früher Nachmittagsstunde embryonal im Schlamm wälzen, oder auch ergänzend kuratierte Hippie-Events. Nein, all das gibt es nicht auf dem Primavera, und das ist erst einmal sehr angenehm. Stattdessen haben wir direkten Zugang zum Mittelmeer-Strand, Palmen, ein großzügiges (wenn auch weitenteils zubetoniertes) Gelände, auf dem die Zigtausenden in lockerem Abstand zueinander schlendern. Und ein Programm, das neue und alte Helden, sehr kleine und ziemlich große Nummern zwanglos vereint. Der offene Charakter des Festivals macht es möglich, Helden des Autoren-Technos inmitten einer Indie-Crowd zu entdecken, daneben ein intellektuelles Ehepaar um die 60. Alles bestens, und doch wollen wir ein paar Worte über Rahmen- und Produktionsbedingungen verlieren.

Da wäre zunächst einmal der überwältigend frequentierte Weißwein-Stand, ein untrügliches Signal für den Strukturwandel: Der urbane Freigeist stellt sich eben lieber für einen Schoppen an, anstatt die dünne Brühe des Festivalsponsors zu kippen. Ein Zeichen guten Geschmacks. Vielleicht sogar ein bisschen penetrant? Kommen wir damit zur Fressmeile: Sie wirkt wie die mobile Version eines aufgehübschten Straßenzugs – und das in Barcelona, einer Stadt, die schwer unter der Gentrifizierung ächzt. Organisches Essen wird aus anspruchsvoll designten Campinganhängern verkauft. Verdammt, sind wir in einer Jamie Oliver-Kochshow gelandet? Auf einmal nervt es, dass Kate Tempest gleich nebenan auf der „Adidas-Stage“ spielt, wo sie doch in ihren Songs über Kinderarbeit in der Turnschuhproduktion lamentiert. Ok, ganz ruhig. Das sind die kleinen Lügen einer im Großen und Ganzen schwer anständigen Angelegenheit. Und damit zu einigen Musik-Highlights, vier unter 200 möglichen.

Kate Tempest

Adidas-Bühne hin oder her, der Auftritt von Kate Tempest war extrem gut, was auch daran lag, dass das Primavera-Publikum nicht einfach nur unterhalten werden möchte, sondern konzentriert zuhören kann. Die Londoner Wortkünstlerin kam wie immer in Straßenklamotten, unfrisiert und ohne Make-Up auf die Bühne. Und sie legte ein absolut ergreifendes Set hin, bei dem sich ihre Tracks mit Spoken-Word-Einlagen stetig abwechselten. So kam der Dancefloor zwischendurch zur Ruhe, nicht aber die Stimme von Kate Tempest, die sich über eine Welt am Abgrund in Rage rappte.

The Make-Up

Phänotypisch am anderen Ende der Skala: The Make-Up, die stilbildende Mod-Core-Legende aus Washington D.C., ehemals im Mao-Style, inzwischen kollektiv in glitzernde Elvis-Anzüge drapiert. Das Quartett präsentierte seinen Gospel Yeh-Yeh hysterisch wie eh und je, dabei frisch wie der junge Morgen – was daran liegen könnte, dass sich die Band extra für das Primavera reformiert haben soll. Das Publikum bekam keine historische Aufführungspraxis serviert, sondern ehrlich empfundenen, grundsympathischen Wahnsinn. Sänger Ian Svenonius verschwand schon nach wenigen Takten im Publikum und wäre noch vor Ende des ersten Songs fast an seinem Mikrofon erstickt. Beste Ansage: „Most rock bands think about bringing themselves to orgasm. Not The Make-Up!” -Yeh!

Sleaford Mods

Ein Gegenstück zu Kate Tempest ganz anderer Art: die notorischen Nörgler Sleaford Mods, ebenfalls anklagende Texte in unversöhnlichem Vortrag. Doch als sie zu zweit mit Laptop und einem Mikro auf die riesige „Ray-Ban-Stage“ traten, wirkten sie etwas verloren, umso mehr, als sie der Sound im Stich ließ. Irgendwann dann aber doch die hinlänglich bekannte, geballte Wut, umhüllt von reduzierten Beats. Aber offen gestanden: Verglichen mit Großmeisterin Tempest wirkte der prollige Jason Williamson doch etwas eindimensional.

Teenage Fanclub

Herrlich unprätentiös zeigten sich am Samstagabend Teenage Fanclub. Die good old boys aus Glasgow lieferten einen schlichten und doch euphorischen Auftritt ab; das selige Publikum sang lauthals mit und zeigte sich bisweilen sogar textsicherer als der legendär zerstreute Sänger Norman Blake. Im Fanblock eine riesige schottische Flagge – wäre ja ein Grund, sich abermals zu echauffieren. Aber nein, lassen wir das. Aufregung passt einfach nicht zum Primavera, dem hübschesten aller Festivals auf massivem Grund.

P.S.: Avant-R’n’B Meister Frank Ocean hatte seine Teilnahme als Headliner kurzfristig abgesagt. Seine Präsenz auf dem Festival fiel daher anders aus, als geplant: in Form von Protest-Shirts mit der Aufschrift: „Fuck Ocean!“

Dieser Text erschien ebenfalls im Blog von ByteFM

 

Balduin

I honestly couldn’t believe my ears when I discovered that this great artist called Balduin is hailing from Bern (Switzerland) – what a pleasant surprise! Fact is, I live in this city for almost 10 years now and I always had to struggle with the local scene, which seemed to be different and difficult for me on all terms. Eventually I made my peace, thinking there’s nothing to expect from this city music wise… But then I heard the songs from Balduin and his second album All In A Dream (2014) which left me relieved and excited at once.

The one-man-orchestra of Balduin shows a great sensibility for shimmering 60ties pop and psychedelia. And I can tell you: he gets better with every release! His third long player Bohemian Garden was just released and the first minutes are like a clear statement: Balduin wasn’t made for these times and his music wasn’t made for the small world of Switzerland.

Between sophisticated baroque pop arrangements, where vibraphone meets analog synth tunes, there’s a colourful cosmos to discover. Some of the tracks achieve a cinematic quality from the likes of Morricone or Theodorakis, taking you on a trip with compelling sounds and melodies. Listening to A Song For The Moon makes you think that Syd Barrett joined The Beatles for an unreleased hit single. All this sounds unique, although the aesthetic is very specific and some influence easy to pinpoint. Because Balduin makes sure, that his music takes a playful approach, that it’s resolving in some unexpected turns and vibes. The effect is simply highly enjoyable and worthwhile.

Minta & The Brook Trout

It’s a rare treat, but sometimes it happens: you hear a tune and suddenly it’s holding you spellbound. You’re captured by a voice or melody, trapped in a special sound or mood. I experienced such a moment when I discovered Minta & The Brook Trout.

The project from Lisbon (Portugal) started out in 2006 as an outlet for singer-/songwriter Francisca Cortesão’s home recordings and developed into a five-piece band. Earlier this year they released their third longplayer Slow which offers folk-inspired indiepop with a mesmerizing and intimate quality. It’s easy to get lost in the graceful arrangements with double tracked harmonies and the soothing timbre of Francisca. I could add a lot more attributes here, but really: just give it a listen and you’ll start to understand why the music of Minta & The Brook Trout is a splendid thing.