It’s amazing how many talented artists there are these days, and how many brilliant albums are released each year. Whether it’s a long awaited release from an old favourite or a debut album from a new discovery, there’s a lot to look forward to in 2013. Here are some of our top picks:
Monday night found Forest and Crispian playing in Aufsturz on Oranienburger Strasse with support by Where did Nora Go.
…. So downstairs the crowd gathers, along with it the Danish ambassador – checking out Where Did Nora Go, who played first. This is another Danish act, and labelmate of Forest and Crispian on the Berlin-based label Für Records. Für Records make a point of signing great Scandinavian bands and bringing them to an eager German public. Occasionally they return the favour by taking bands like Super700 up to Scandinavia and presenting them there to an equally eager, albeit happier, although colder, public.
Where Did Nora Go is Astrid Nora who plays cello, sings, and loops some of that. She plays togetherwith Henrik Marstal, who produced her album. He also plays cello and loops it. The music is somewhat ethereal, very beautiful, with layers of cello and beautifully sung strong vocals floating over the top.
Forest and Crispian are a Swedish band and they are also great – after this concert I’d say especially live. The line-up consists of a drummer, who also takes lead vocals and so plays standing up, a guitarist who provides backing vocals and a man on Hammond, also providing backing vocals, and who turns out to be the brother of the singer – no surprise as they look very alike.
Conny Plank experimented in an age when everyone else was concerned with making things bland and flat. And after having done things that inspired a lot of the eighties bands, he went on to record them too – he produced Ultravox’s „Vienna“, also a lot of Eurythmics stuff, Echo and the Bunnymen, he was „the third member“ of the breakthrough band Neu!, he worked with Kraftwerk, he even recorded the Scorpions in his Kölln studio. And to top it all off, he became dude of dudes by, when being invited by big fan Brian Eno to take his offered place as producer of U2’s The Joshua Tree, declined after a short chat with the band, saying „I cannot work with this singer.“
He was, as they say, the man.
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Getting signed through having your demo given to a label by one of the Black Keys is really quite a cool way to start life as a band. Heartless Bastards revolves around the singing and songwriting talents of Erika Wennerstrom – with the band line-up changing over the years since they first formed in 2002 and Erika remaining the only constant – and along the way they’ve managed to impress a whole lot of people, critics and listeners alike – from supporting Wolfmother on their recent US tour to receiving rave reviews in Rolling Stone and Pitchfork (to name but two).
Walking into Cookies, I honestly had low expectations- for a club to have a bad rep around Berlin is never a good sign given the plethora of spaces to see and be seen. We’re here to see a Parisian duo that has been known to play catchy electro, with an addition of jazzy instrumentals, and sultry vocals from both and Nicolas Sfintescu and Ezechiel Pailhes- the two comrades that together, are Nôze.
It was a couple of years at an open mic somewhere in P’Berg Berlin where I first heard this man – he’s seriously good and if you hear of him playing somewhere, check it out. Man’s a genius.
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You heard of Phil Spector? Yeah. Heard of Conny Plank? Ah. Conny Plank has been referred to as the Phil Spector of Krautrock. To drop more names, he produced Vienna from Ultravox, Eno asked him to produce The Joshua Tree and he famously said, “I cannot work with this singer” (Bono); Eurythmics, Einstürzende Neubauten, Neu!, Echo and the Bunnymen, the Scorpions….er. Yes. The list goes on. I confess, okay? I hadn’t heard of Conny Plank. Now having found out more about the man I feel suitably humbled. Jesus. He started out professional life as an engineer for Marlene Dietrich, but apart from name-dropping that’s neither here nor there. He was very active in the 70s and 80s – after that less so as he died in the late 80s, which hampered his output somewhat.
Ruban says he is cautious in interviews. I caught up with him in December when his label had sent him on an interview tour of Europe and he professed it strange to be touring with no guitar and expected only to meet people and talk. How to not tell the same jokes, go for the same pat answers …Ruban takes me to an imbiss and we sit in the back with two bad coffees and while the radio plays Rihanna and Beyonce in the background and the patron makes kebabs for a slow stream of mute customers, Ruban tells me how it is.
Lo-fi extraordinaires and indie-blogosphere darlings Unknown Mortal Orchestra have released their follow-up album, tentatively titled //, and they are about to show the rest of Europe what the hype is all about.
The American/New Zealander band has only been around since 2010, but their debut was widely praised and helped skyrocket the young musicians into the realm of esteemed music stars.
Now the time has come for Berlin – Prince Charles to be more exact – where the boys are bound to show us what an amazing live act should sound like.
Catch the catchy trio this Friday, Feb. 8th, and give their new record a spin or two – you won’t regret it.
As I walk into Berghain, the scene is buzzing as usual. For a Tuesday night the place is quite busy; crowded with people anticipating the night’s current guest – Canadian synthpop band, Trust. The band is made up of Robert Alfons, and Maya Postepski (who is also a member of Toronto-based duo, Austra, but didn’t seem to be in attendance.)
Amatorksi, the brilliant Belgian indiemelancholics, are in Berghain Kantine tomorrow and we’ve got free tickets to give away – write to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us why…
Amatorski are Belgian, they were founded three years ago. They play this low fidelity melancholic style which reminds of Portishead or Sigur Ros, but at the same time does not. They have a distinct character, a strong one, and are going places.
Die schwedische Band “Forest & Crispian” und die dänische Band “where Did Nora Go” spielen am 11.02. im Aufsturz in Mitte.
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The Ramones Museum Berlin is a bizarre place. The coffee shop area has the air of a Starbuck’s and the museum itself is a series of glass cabinets displaying photos, memorabilia and texts narrating the history of the band, not unlike any History Museum would display the artisanry pieces of an extinct tribe. You can’t help wondering what a twenty year old Joey Ramone would have done with all that glass.
Berlin’s fantastic Jazz Kollektiv, co-organised by brilliant jazz pianist Marc Schmolling, is kicking off its yearly festival once again, from this Monday through to Wednesday, with a wealth of wonderful jazz bands on the three nights. If you’re up for a bit of jazz, if you want a change from all that indie pop stuff that everyone seems to listen to these days, if you want to be cocooned in some creative vibe, pop along to the Naherholung and soak it all up.
Somewhere between the band’s vision and our headphones – amongst the beautiful and grand and complex and intriguing palette of sounds – something is lost. Over 11 songs we get several great moments – ‘The Bell’ cleverly builds and builds, holding the tension, until the final wordless vocal line; ‘My Lighthouse’, the album’s opener, is a gorgeous, three-minute hymn of finger-picked acoustic guitar – but they are hidden amongst a lot of misdirected sound and emotion. Villagers have pushed themselves far on this record, which is great. But they lacked the ability to reign themselves in when necessary, to bring the album together as one piece, sonically and thematically. This is a confusing album. It’s overly ambitious – and that’s its downfall.
Trixie’s voice has grown up, found itself and grown rich. At times a throaty growl, at times a honeyed yowl, she shows that she’s bestrode a thousand stages in a thousand bars. She’s a thoroughly seasoned performer, completely comfortable up on stage and carrying the audience effortlessly with her, she stomps away at the boom-tish-boom-tish rhythm of the kick and the hat and pounds her guitar gutsily along, setting up a rolling beat for herself to sing her songs of lonesome towns and dustclouds over.