The 50 Greatest MTX Songs

Now we are 21 years older than I was when I attended my first MTX concert (MTX = The Mr. T Experience). To celebrate the occasion I present the 50 greatest MTX songs according to me.

  1. …And I Will Be With You

This song can never be not included in such a list. The American Ninja 2 line is my personal highlight, even though I now practically nothing about American Ninja 2. (Or American Ninja 1.) The modest beat prevents it from a higher rank, though.

  1. She Did Me In

An early song with Dr. Frank and Jon Von trading vocals in the chorus. It has a lot of energy, hence rank #49.

  1. Institutionalized Misogyny

Few punk songs mention Chomsky. Also, the rest of the song is always a fascinating, despite it lacking some of the aforementioned energy.

  1. Told You Once

After hearing this one played three times in a row at Dr. Frank’s concert in Baltimore ten years ago, I just had to include it. It’s a very short song from the “Short Music for Short People” compilation, which is awesome.

  1. The Boyfriend Box

I love it when MTX play slightly faster than they seem comfortable with. This is one of the faster tracks on “Yesterday Rules” and it gives me a smile whenever I hear it.

  1. Love Manifesto

A song from “Our Bodies Our Selves”, the first MTX album I bought. It’s a wonderful early example of the romance + punk = MTX equation.

  1. The End of the Ramones

Maybe I’m wrong to find this song ‘only’ very good. Maybe it’s just because the Ramones have disbanded/died/aged. The idea is amazing, the execution, as always, solid. The ending about the ending is fab.

  1. Cinthya (With a Y)

I struggled to rank this one. The music is great, the chorus melody is as catchy as any MTX hit. Only the lyrics don’t live up to the songs potential. I know it ties in with the second King Dork book, fine. But even in that context the lyrics seem simply uninteresting. I mean, especially in the first book there are so many great song titles (in the context of the story, at least) – I guess I’d much rather get to hear them.

  1. Predictable

A list like this needs some fast songs.

  1. She’s No Rocket Scientist

So March 16, 2001 was my first (and so far only) MTX concert. It took place in Stuttgart at the Limelight. The band crammed 17 songs into 45 minutes (before the Queers played their headliner set). This song was played and it just clicked. I guess the trio line-up gave it even more power than the studio version. Frankly, I don’t really know what the song is about (beyond the title) – and I’m fine with it (for now) – see also #27.

  1. Velveeta

Just like the previous rank, this song was played at my first MTX concert and I adore it every since. And again, I hardly know what the song is about. I do know that it’s a song about a girl, because Dr. Frank said so at the concert.

  1. We Hate All the Same Things

This is a good song, the lyrics are relatable, so there’s a lot to love and little to hate about this song.

  1. Naomi

Again, a song I heard played live – and that way it sounded more impressive than the studio version. The slow groove is something I’m not too big a fan of. But thanks to Jym’s drumming it reminds me of the MTX, not of Green Day.

  1. Tapin’ up My Heart

The “…and the Women Who Love Them” EP marks the turning point where MTX turned from a band with occasionally great stuff to a band with consistently great stuff. The opening track combines heartache and crunching guitars in an excellent fashion. Also, the vocals are no longer drowned in a complete wall of noise.

  1. I Just Want to Do It With You

The quality of the MTX starship becomes apparent when an anthem like this ranks at #36. It’s a fun song, cool guitars, driving drums – all is good. But wait, it gets even better!

  1. Sorry for Freaking out on the Phone Last Night

Around the turning of the millennium, MTX became a bit more 70s, a bit less full-on punk-girl-trouble. The lyrics still shone, and hey, songs like this are amazing. Too bad I never got to hear this one live.

  1. Last Time I Listened to You

A jolly song on disc, a driving force of heartbreak live – MTX played it back when I saw them in 2001. I knew less than half of the songs in the set, having only one album and along with a few mp3 tracks. It remains remarkable how pretty much every track left an impression on me. No fillers at all.

  1. Love American Style

I first heard this one on a live recording that had no titles. For a while it was just that catchy song to me, even though I couldn’t understand a word.

  1. The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be

One of the MTX features I just love is the seemingly constant stream of syllables in songs like this. The lyrics make sense when you pay attention – but here you can also just get carried away with the music and the wonderfully imperfect vocals.

  1. High School Is a Penalty for Transgressions Yet to Be Specified

MTX meets the Beatles – the title is genius, the song is fun. I don’t know if this is the first MTX song with a shuffle beat. It works just fine. It would make a perfect lead song on a soundtrack if there is ever a “King Dork” movie. Too bad that Status Quo haven’t covered this song.

  1. Losers Like You

I struggle with the “King Dork Approximately” album. Some songs work fine in the context of the book. Then again, the band in the book (whatever its current name) seems much less talented, produced etc. So there won’t be any more songs off the album on my list. As mentioned earlier, the best titles are unfortunately not on the album, presumably because they’re just titles in the book, not actual, existing songs. “Losers Like You” seems to be something in between – Dr. Frank played the chorus during his reading tour for “King Dork”. And the chorus is phenomenal! I love, love, love it. Even if the verses are crap – or just not there – this one ranks at least at #30.

  1. I Fell for You

This was one of my first encounters with MTX. It’s easy to see why it was chosen to get a video. It has all the things that make the MTX great and nothing that bores you. If anything, it becomes too much of a prototypical song after a while, if that makes sense.

  1. I’d Do Anything for You

I bought to CDs at the MTX concert in 2001: “The Miracle of Shame” and “Love Is Dead”. You’ll find 0 song on this list from “Shame” (what a shame, “Mr. Ramones” is good and “Spy vs. Spy” rocks, anyhow). From “Love Is Dead”, I count 11 tracks among my personal top 50! This one sounds so relaxed, yet it is punky, and MTX prove that one can sing these words without the pathos of Meat Loaf. Instead, the feeling hits you immediately.

  1. Deep Deep Down

This would have ranked much higher if the lyrics weren’t so disturbing. While I like a good lyric, I can live with a good melody for a long time before I bother with the exact story in the words. (Oh, the benefit of not being an English native speaker.) For many years “Deep Deep Down” just was there, a bit more somber than the rest of the album, which made it stand out in a good way. Only when I heard the incredibly amazing “Making of Love Is Dead” podcast did I realise the murderous plot in this one.

  1. Together Tonight

This is happier than the average MTX stuff. Again, lots of love for the music and the catchiness.

  1. Will You Still Love Me When I Don’t Love You?

The last time I saw Dr. Frank live was in 2012 when he played in Aachen. During the show he asked for requests and I said this title – and he played it! Of course, it feels a bit odd to choose this track when there are 24 “better” tracks coming up. In my defence, he had already played four of those higher ranked songs. And it was an acoustic gig, therefore a song like this without distorted guitars seemed a good fit. The lyrics are quirky, could be seen as annoying, but hey, it’s a song and I like it!

  1. Somebody Who Cares

I heard this one live in Baltimore in 2012 – fun, fun, punk. The lyrics are the all too familiar cry for help, for companionship, for somebody who cares. Only after hearing an interview about it, I realised that the background vocals are shouting “Who Cares(?)”, possibly counterpointing the main lyric. Anyhow, good music from start to finish!

  1. Semi-OK

Two “Love Is Dead” hits are coming up. This one is the perfect song about a mood. Happy songs? Let’s hear Roxette! Sad songs? Bring on the goth metal. But songs about feeling semi-ok? Only the MTX can give you that!

  1. Thank You (For Not Being One of Them)

What an anthem! No, not the Bon-Jovi-stadium-rock-type. The being-understood-and-not-totally-alone-type! This was played at the MTX show in Stuttgart in 2001 – and, as with pretty much every other song except “I Wrote a Book About Rock and Roll” and “Danny Partridge”, there was an instant connection. This is my music. This is why we have guitars and drums and microphones and hearts and each other.

  1. I Don’t Need You Now

Here are some acoustic guitars from “Revenge Is Sweet and so Are You” with excellent lyrics and absolutely no doubt that the singer doesn’t need you now. Not.

  1. Who Needs Happiness (I’d Rather Have You)

After “Love Is Dead”, MTX stayed true to the formula, refined it, improved it, and bam there were tons of great tunes – like this one. Yes, it’s basically the title that makes it great, the rest is ornamentation, highlighting the main point, which has never been sung more defiantly than here by Dr. Frank.

  1. Jill

From here on it’s just killers, hits, highlights, amazing songs, go get them, hear them, dance, laugh, cry! This ballad from “Yesterday Rules” is about a broken heart, a song about a girl, a monument of post-break-up feelings.

  1. Sackcloth and Ashes

The opening song from “Love Is Dead” with its driving beat should be played at every MTX concert, heck, at every concert, right? Yes, I was tempted to fill the top ten exclusively with songs from “Love Is Dead”. Well, too late now. Speaking of too late: It was 26 years ago today that MTX played in Stuttgart for the first time – at the (big, big) Schleyerhalle (!) opening for Green Day. I’m only aware of one setlist from that tour – generalising from it, it might just be that “Sackcloth and Ashes” was the first song MTX ever played in Stuttgart. Ok, I don’t know if the band played here during an earlier tour, e.g., in 1992. I sort of regret that I wasn’t there in 1996 (three years before my actual first encounter with an MTX song). Anyway, “Sackcloth and Ashes” – I love it!

  1. Love Is Dead

That one was part of the 2001 gig in Stuttgart – I was singing along right there, right then. Even before I was aware of lines like “Emotional vertigo was never supposed to happen this time, but if she ever were to go back to me, there’s nowhere I wouldn’t climb”.

  1. We Are the Future People of Tomorrow

The opening drum beat sets the mood, the ultra-catchy chorus delivers the goods – not a famous MTX song by any standard. Still, I adore the three chord chorus and the title and everything about it.

  1. Our Love Will Last Forever and Ever

The animated video made this one even better. Lots of words, great melody, love, love, love. Man, it’s hard to write anything meaningful when I feel like such a fanboy.

  1. New Girlfriend

Three chords, one topic, less than two minutes, and, by the way, an amazing live track. Not that I’ve experienced it live, but even the live clips on YouTube are really great.

  1. Swiss Army Girlfriend

Dr. Frank played this one in Aachen in 2012 and it was the best! Along with the other best songs he played. I love the constant change between major and minor. I love the break before the chorus. I love the chorus. I love the lyrics. I love the “Swiss Army Girlfriend”!

  1. She’s My Alcatraz

I confess I’m not a bit fan of the “Alcatraz” album. The title track, however, expands the sonic sphere of MTX with a delicate riff and a driving rhythm section. Only the MTX can turn something like Alcatraz into a song about a girl. It’s wonderful!

  1. More than Toast

While this is a fan favourite, it fails to make my top ten. Sorry. The lyrics are perfect. No, I don’t know exactly what they’re about in detail. Still, the line “You said you love me…” gets me every time and I don’t even know why! The live versions are usually better than the initial studio recording.

  1. Lawnmower of Love

What an amazing punk love song! In my heart, this should be a top five song, but then there’d be ten top five songs and unfortunately I’m rather good in math. Anyhow, Dr. Frank sings at the fringe of his comfortable vocal range, which sometimes bothers me, but usually pleases me. The lyrics are pure MTX gold. I mean: “I’ve thought of leaving you but where would that leave me?” Yes, yes, yes! Also, the rhymes are insanely tight! The chorus is the cherry on the punk cake.

  1. As Life Goes on, You Get More and More out of It

Another acoustic track – and what a ride this is. This might have worked in a band setting, too. Fact is, no one does these songs a convincing, as authentic, as charming as Dr. Frank. I get a lot out of this song, even after hearing it like a hundred times.

  1. The History of the Concept of the Soul

From the second album “Night Shift at the Thrill Factory”, this is an early example of the genius of MTX and Dr. Frank. It’s not only a great punk rock and roll track. It’s still the only song I know with references and footnotes (all sung in the song, of course). For a while I thought this was a summary of Dr. Frank’s dissertation. When I later learned that there is no such dissertation I wasn’t angry or disappointed or anything. Because MTX means love and forgiveness and a smile even when you feel like crying.

  1. Swallow Everything

The first song I heard MTX play live! Looking back I can’t think of a better opening song. It helped that I had heard it before on CD. Still, the live energy, Gabe’s backing vocals in the chorus, the energy! I was hooked within seconds.

  1. I Love You But You’re Standing on My Foot

By far the best song from “Milk Milk Lemonade”! It got even better when the MTX Starship played it live with the last verse a capella. Few artists dare to have a song title beginning with “I love you”. MTX provide not just the perfect ending to the title, but the song is catchy, funny, punky. I love it but there are still five MTX songs that are even better.

  1. You’re the Only One

“Love Is Dead” is an amazing album, no discussion. The closing song with its immortal line “If my heart’s gonna get broken anyway, I’d rather have it get broken by you” is one of the album’s highlights. It also showed that Dr. Frank can shine beyond the punk trio format, although the ending is, of course, a wonderful way to end an album.

  1. Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba

In some iterations of this list, this was the number one. It’s that hard to rank the best of the best of the MTX. If you have a chance to hear this live with a full band, don’t hesitate! The album version ain’t bad, either. And you can always check out the song’s video clip. Naturally, no one has read this list this far unless they already now the brilliance of this song, right?

  1. Dumb Little Band

This is the quintessential MTX except that it’s not about a girl. Another concert memory: Dr. Frank played a full band show in Baltimore in 2012 that ended with “Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba”, followed by “Dumb Little Band” (and an encore). I didn’t think that anything after “Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba” could keep up the fun. I was completely wrong. Whenever I hear “Dumb Little Band” I want to shout at the world: “Look at this dumb little band! Hear them! Make them great! Give them the headlining spot at every big festival! Shower them with money!” Of course, nothing ever happens except that I get that cozy feeling one gets when listening to cherished music that, despite its greatness, is unappreciated by most of the world.

  1. Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend

At the Stuttgart concert in 2001, Gabe broke a string on his bass guitar. Dr. Frank used the break to play his song (which hadn’t been on the setlist). Lucky me in the audience. By now, this might be the band’s most famous song. And that would be deserved. Sure, it’s an acoustic song, no drummer messing with the tempo, no guitar solo. Yet, it’s MTX in a nutshell. It faded a bit from my memory while I was busy exploring the vast MTX catalogue. Still, whenever I come back to it, the song makes me smile, no matter how I feel otherwise.

  1. Here She Comes

Here comes the best MTX song according to me. A song about a girl. “She’s so hot and I love her a lot. She’s got everything I haven’t got.” Yes. Yes! Rock on! You see, I’m in fanboy mode again. The parts of this one are perfectly connected, Joel’s harmony vocals are great, the lyrics are amazing. I’m still not tired of this song even though I heard it a zillion times. And that wraps up my top 50 list!

Lektüre 2021

A list of books I finished reading in the last 12 months:

  • J. Michael Straczynski: Becoming Superman
  • Steve Lukather & Paul Rees: The Gospel According to Luke
  • Yuval Noah Harari: Eine kurze Geschichte der Menschheit
  • Toivo Kaartinen: Foxes in Love Vol. 1
  • Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim: Die kleinste gemeinsame Wirklichkeit. Wahr, falsch, plausibel? Die größten Streitfragen wissenschaftlich geprüft
  • Stuart Ritchie: Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth
  • Frank Herbert: Gefangen in der Ewigkeit
  • Nadja Hermann: Erzaehlmirnix – Leben mit Menschen
  • John Green: The Anthropocene Reviewed
  • Dirk Rossmann: Der neunte Arm des Oktopus
  • Isabella Benz & Susanne Wolff: Sirenenbann und Seegesang
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton & Louise Penny: State of Terror

Dave Hause live in Hahnstätten

Yesterday, I was at my first concert since 2019: Dave Hause (along with Tim Hause) played in a garden in the middle of nowhere between Cologne and Frankfurt (Hahnstätten). What a relief! What a joy! And what an almost sacred feeling of cherishing music, hand-made and live, intense, soft, deep, flawed, spontaneous. Speaking of which, after the premiere of a brand new track (“Little Wings”) and a stunning rendition of “Saboteurs” came “Damascus” followed by an unplanned performance of the entire “Devour” album, which was then followed by the actual set. 25 songs, 2 hours, old and new, energetic and emphatic.

The audience was a bit shy, hell, I was shy. Can we sing along? Whistle? The dog next door had fewer reservations; he gladly barked whenever the audience clapped and also sometimes during the songs. The church bells at 9 pm interrupted the show for a minute or two. The audience was attentive, to say the least. No chatting, no murmuring, no stage-diving, either. “The Flinch” was one of my favourite songs of the evening. “Sandy Sheets” brought happiness and lightness and summer despite the chilly evening air. Thankfully there was no rain. Ending with “Fireflies” underneath the lightbulb cable in the tiny stage pavilion, the Hause brothers once again brought all the feelings, leaving everyone happy and moved.

  1. Little Wings
  2. Saboteurs
  3. Damascus
  4. The Great Depression
  5. We Could Be Kings
  6. Same Disease
  7. Before
  8. Father’s Son
  9. Stockholm Syndrome
  10. Becoming Secular
  11. The Shine
  12. Bricks
  13. Benediction
  14. Autism Vaccine Blues
  15. Shaky Jesus
  16. High Hopes
  17. Hanalei
  18. The Flinch
  19. Civil Lies
  20. Time Will Tell
  21. Surfboard
  22. Sunshine
  23. C’mon Kid
  24. Sandy Sheets
  25. Fireflies

Lektüre 2020

A list of books I finished reading in the last 12 months:

  • Maureen Johnson, John Green & Lauren Myracle: Let It Snow
  • Ian Kilmister & Janiss Garza: White Line Fever
  • Mark Haddon: Supergute Tage

Lektüre 2019

A list of books I finished reading in the last 12 months:

  • Robert Jordan: Crossroads of Twilight
  • Wolf Welling: Die Wächterin
  • Robert Jordan: Knife of Dreams
  • Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson: The Gathering Storm
  • Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson: Towers of Midnight
  • John Strelecky: Das Café am Rande der Welt
  • Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson: A Memory of Light

Metaanalyse zur prädiktiven Validität von Studierfähigkeitstests

Diese Woche erschien “Leisten fachspezifische Studierfähigkeitstests im deutschsprachigen Raum eine valide Studienerfolgsprognose? Ein metaanalytisches Update” (Post-Print bei ResearchGate). Als Erstautor bin ich darüber natürlich in erster Linie erfreut. Die Arbeit ist praktisch die Fortschreibung (bis 2018), Bestätigung (der prädiktiven Validität) und Erweiterung (mehr Fachrichtungen, inkrementelle Validität bzgl. Abinoten) der Metaanalyse von Hell, Trapmann und Schuler (2007). Ich möchte an dieser Stelle kurz ein paar zusätzliche Gedanken festhalten, die insbesondere die Entscheidungen betrifft, die man beim Schreiben eines Artikels unweigerlich treffen muss.

Die neue Metaanalyse orientiert sich stark an der alten, ist aber keine sklavische Wiederholung. So wurde anno 2019 als Software R verwendet. Das ist bei Validitätsmetaanalysen nicht unbedingt geradlinig. Ursprünglich hatte ich vor, das Paket psychmeta zu verwenden. Für die anschließenden Moderatoranalysen sowie für den Fokus auf Fixed-Effects-Modelle war am Ende aber metafor das Paket der Wahl, das die Analyse “im Stil” der Methode von Hunter und Schmidt vornimmt.

Es gab die Überlegung, die Studien der Hell-Metaanalyse auch in die Analyse mit einzubeziehen. Dann wäre die neue Arbeit aber nicht so eigenständig ausgefallen. Vielleicht nimmt sich in Zukunft ja jemand der Aufgabe an, alle Studien (seit 1980?) zusammenzufassen. Wir haben nicht zuletzt dafür die Datenmatrix unserer Analysen online gestellt, um möglichst transparent und replikabel (?) zu sein.

Die Betrachtung der inkrementellen Validität von Studierfähigkeitstests über die Abinote hinaus war mir wichtig, weil das Thema in der Praxis sehr präsent ist. Die Vermutung von Hell, Trapmann und Schuler (2008), dass es ein Inkrement im hohen einstelligen Prozentpunktbereich gibt, konnte numerisch bestätigt werden. An der Herausforderung der inferenzstatistischen Prüfung bin ich allerdings gescheitert. Deshalb fällt der Inkrement-Punkt im Artikel eher knapp aus. Ich bin auch skeptisch, dass es eine Spezialform des Wald-Tests gibt, die den Test mit den spärlich vorhandenen Daten rechnen könnte. Vielversprechender wäre eine Metaregression, für die aber in den Primärstudien die vollständigen Korrelationsmatrizen (mit Abinoten, Testleistungen und Studiennoten) berichtet werden müssen – was bislang nur in selten passiert ist. Dies ist also Zukunftsmusik.

Fazit: Ungeachtet dieser Punkte sehe ich die Arbeit positiv und die Ergebnisse als belastbar an. So freue ich mich auch auf die große, positive Resonanz auf unsere Metaanalyse, die es jüngst bei der DPPD-Fachgruppentagung sowie bei der BMBF-Fachtagung zu Eingangstests gab. Mal sehen, wer 2031 die nächste Metaanalyse zum Thema macht!

Chris de Burgh live in Stuttgart

Chris de Burgh? Again? Yes, indeed. The current tour features two old albums instead of a new one. The first set of the show consisted of the Moonfleet songs. “Moonfleet & Other Stories” is among de Burgh’s best albums. The first half of the concert featured the thirteen tracks that tell the story of the novel “Moonfleet” (from 1898). After the taped symphonic overture, the band began with a very pleasant volume level. The Beethoven-Saal in the Liederhalle was sold out. The audience cheered and was given a wild ride with smugglers, betrayal, storms, love, friendship etc. Of course, Chris de Burgh is not a wild performer. He’s a storyteller. A superb light show augmented the performance without distracting from the music. There were the rocking songs and the emphatic ballads. There was a shanty and a dramatic middle part. In short, there was everything that makes Chris de Burgh Chris de Burgh. I loved every minute of the set.

After the intermission it was time for another album set. “Into the Light” has sold more copies than any other album by de Burgh. “Borderline” was thrown in for good measure, right before the sequel “Say Goodbye to It All”. A few songs felt slightly too out of date. It’s not 1986 anymore. Still, the synth sounds and the relentless catchiness were thrilling. “The Ballroom of Romance” was particularly groovy. “The Lady in Red” was held back until after “The Leader” trilogy and a couple of solo songs. From then on, the audience stood on their feet. Everybody had a good time with all-time classics such as “Missing You”, “Don’t Pay the Ferryman” and “High on Emotion”. The long notes were sung a bit shorter than 30 years ago, but apart from that it was a flawless performance from start to finish. Lots of songs were played that hadn’t been on the setlist for quite some time (or ever). Sure, the encore was all ballads. Still, the audience got 2.5 hours of music. The applause was roaring by the time the band left the stage for good. Below is the setlist from Stuttgart (30th October 2019).

  1. The Light on the Bay
  2. Have a Care
  3. Go Where Your Heart Believes
  4. The Escape
  5. The Days of Our Age
  6. The Secret of the Locket
  7. My Heart’s Surrender
  8. Treasure and Betrayal
  9. Moonfleet Bay
  10. The Storm
  11. Greater Love
  12. The Moonfleet Finale
  13. Last Night
  14. Fire on the Water
  15. The Ballroom of Romance
  16. Borderline
  17. Say Goodbye to It All
  18. The Spirit of Man
  19. Fatal Hesitation
  20. One Word (Straight to the Heart)
  21. For Rosanna
  22. The Leader
  23. The Vision
  24. What About Me?
  25. There Goes My Heart Again
  26. Where Peaceful Waters Flow
  27. The Lady in Red
  28. Africa
  29. Missing You
  30. Don’t Pay the Ferryman
  31. High on Emotion
  32. The Snows of New York
  33. The Moonfleet Finale

My impressions of the 2019 Wizard Rock sampler

Check out the whole thing at!

PUSSYCAT DOLORES: Ministry Has Fallen – This one has excellent vocals, thoroughly produced, augmented by sublime synths. The music reminds me of FROU FROU. Of course, I have no idea of current pop music. The drum computer ruins the whole thing a bit. It could have been more moody without the hyperactive hihat, I guess.

SONORUS: Arthur Weasley – The ska party starts now. The chorus reminds me of “We’re Not Gonna Take It”. Could be worse. Somehow I associate the wizard’s world with drama and struggle. This is a good reminder that there has to be good times, as well.

PERCY AND THE PREFECTS: I’m Sorry Harry Potter – This indie rock song is a bit too occupied with its harmony vocals and rhymes. It could be catchier. The lyrics work well, not just a few words and slogans but fitting throughout the song.

HOW AIRPLANES FLY: Poetry in Motion – Melancholic, yet upbeat folky man with guitar music – yes. Thank you. This is my favourite song, so far.

THE DOLLY SHAKES: I Wish Luna Lovegood Was My Friend – A rather good wizard rock song from the 60s. The lyrics are great, the music is good, the 60s are now, right?

SHANNON SWEENEY: Chocolate Frogs Radio Spot – If you know me, you know I like short songs. I like chocolate. Hence, I like this tune.

LOSING LARA: Owl Post Mishaps – “Wizards through the eyes of Muggles” is a perspective I strongly appreciate. The music is a tad harmless, but so is the topic.

THE SWEDISH SHORTSNOUTS: Scream Like a Mandrake – One can always rely on Swedish hard rock. This one has a nice shuffle groove and a cool organ. The overall production might be a bit too controlled, too much on the safe side. There is also an ALICE COOPER/”School’s Out” vibe going on. What’s the magic spell to make the band open for DEEP PURPLE?

PAIGE 394: Hagrid’s Keys – Why does this song remind of a new DREAM THEATER ballad? Is it the chord changes? The elegy? The music has its own flair, but it’s not really my cup of tea.

TOTALLY KNUTS: Goodbye – There a moments where I’m in the story with the emotion. And then there are moments where I see the singer in a YouTube home video eyeing the lyric sheet.

HOMO QUI VIXIT: Halloween – This is probably the most lo-fi contribution. The spoken interludes are great. Is there a touch of BRIGHT EYES in there? Do I even know more than one BRIGHT EYES song?

THE LOVEGOODS: Invincible – THE LOVEGOODS sound a bit like THE CRANBERRIES going to Hogwarts. It’s certainly a treat for fans of the 90s.

SLYTHERPUFF: Rock the House – I really like the band name and I like the song name. But where are the guitars? This could be a radio hit.

POTTÖRHEAD: Jesus Has a Horcrux – Our contribution is a mix of pop/punk and potentially offensive lyrics. The production is too polished, if you ask me. Then again, it’s probably just my voice that bugs me. We only had a couple of song ready, even though we’re currently writing for our next album.

THE ARKADIAN: Aragog – Guitars! Drums! This could become SPINAL TAP. Or is it FOREIGNER with some drive? The cheesy chorus is a bit to light for the topic, I guess. Still, the vocals are awesome. The composition certainly does Aragog justice. Very cool. Well done. One of my favourite tracks on this year’s compilation and one of my favourite wizard rock songs.

THE 8TH HORCRUX: The Sorting Hat (Demo) – The return of the pop hihat. I’m tempted to return to “Aragog”. Weirdly enough, there is a vibe that reminds me of BON JOVI’s “Wanted Dead or Alive”.

HAWTHORNE & HOLLY: Occlumency – The stereo mix makes this one a bit creepy under headphones. The could have been more dynamics, I guess, to give this one more than one dimension.

SOLITARY SNAPE: Brain Room – This is only the second or third ukulele track. The chorus is great. It’s a very relaxed song. I like it.

GRACE KENDALL: Make It Better – Enchanting vocals, more ukulele. The song’s a bit softer than the previous “Brain Room”. It’s probably more difficult to convey positivity, so thumbs up for the uplifting mood and the dreamy atmosphere.

DOTS AND LINES: Pretty Good at Quidditch – Is this an a single-voice cappella song? It is. It somehow works, even though I imagine all sorts of arrangements while listening. I like how it starts somewhat slow and then gets a bit more dense without disturbing the mood. I like song like this because it’s surprising and good and it has its own style.

AUGUAMENTI: Sapphic Magic – This pop/rap/something song has a hard time after the cool DOTS AND LINES track. I guess the rap parts are good, but I struggle with the more melodic parts. Sorry.

THEY MIGHT BE HALF-GIANTS: Slytherin – Oh my, this is fun. I don’t think I’ll listen to this one for pleasure. The ending is just too far out. The whole thing is fun, though, and stands out. It certainly made me smile.

MUGGLE SNUGGLE: Winky’s Hangover – Cheers! I raise my glass to you.

SELF-DEFENSIVE SPELLWORK: Graveyard of Buried Hopes – What a gloomy, moody song; the vocals sound a bit too whispered, in my opinion. Good music, anyway. I do need some sunshine now.

SARA IDANI: Expecto Patronum – Glockenspiel for the win. Then it takes a turn for 80s pop synth/drum music. I already see the single with three different dance mixes in front of me. The vocals are good and really suit the song. The lyrics give the pop music a different feel, I really like this! Now if only Mike Oldfield could add a some guitars…

All in all, my favourites are SARA IDANI, DOTS AND LINES, THE ARKADIAN along with SOLITARY SNAPE, HOW AIRPLANES FLY and PUSSYCAT DOLORES. Hooray for everyone on the compilation and tons of thanks to Grace Kendall for bringing it all together.

Wizards Give a Shit

POTTÖRHEAD contributed a live track to the wizard rock charity compilation “Wizards Give a Shit”. Check it out! The lyrics are listed below.

Last year I went to visit the Bielefeld School of Wizardry
Said goodbye to Hogwarts and took a boat to Germany
All the German teachers really took good care of me
They showed me the city that’s not there in reality
And on the streets I saw
Small piles in rainbow colors
And when I asked the locals
They said that this is Einhornscheiße
Einhornscheiße – yellow, red and blue

The Germans taught me potions
The Germans taught me German spells
They explained the rainbow piles and their sweet and pungent smells
The city and its unicorns are banished from reality
Since that magic accident at the Bielefeld School of Wizardry
Still the unicorns produce
Small piles of rainbow colors
And when you step on them
Your foot is stuck in Einhornscheiße
Einhornscheiße – yellow, red and blue

Einhornscheiße – yellow, red and blue
Einhornscheiße – green and orange, too

Finally: The Brandos – Los Brandos – Extended Single

Finally. Finally. Back in 2015, the Brandos were crowdfunding the recording of their next album (“Los Brandos”). Backers were to receive an exclusive single. I blogged about it. Now – finally – the perk(s) have arrived! Rather than commenting on the epic delay, I want to share my experience of listening to the single.

Music can be fascinating when it provides new, original, possibly progressive ideas – it can be a sonic journey into the unknown. Music can also be fascinating when it provides the feeling of belonging, of familiarity, of home – it can be like meeting an old friend and falling right back into a conversation that went on a break when the two of you last met. The extended single I received a little while ago belongs into the latter group. By the time I heard the acoustic live version of “My Friend, My Friend” I had a melancholic smile on my face. By the time the pipes in “The Warrior’s Son” kicked in I had forgotten about any delay. It was pure bliss.

My first contact with the Brandos was their debut “Honor Among Thieves”, a great piece of guitar rock with a special mood and amazing vocals. Next came “The Light of Day – the single”, a compilation of b-sides and unreleased live material. It showed a much more versatile band. There were rock and roll classics. There were acoustic ballads about longing for “Cheyenne” and “The Other Side” of the Berlin wall. There was the energetic title track about not giving up. I was intrigued – and impressed enough to check out the upcoming concert in Stuttgart. That was back in 1995. (The band delivered a flawless gig; I was hooked.)

Now in 2019, I got that single-feeling once again. I had hoped that the single would have some rarities, sure. Not just a remix of an album track and a live version of “Gettysburg”. Well, this extended single delivers the goods! After a couple of album tracks there is a solid rock song (“Love Man”). And then it’s time for a collection of live gems. I really like the balance of acoustic and amplified recordings, of original Brandos material and cover versions. The sound quality is good. The songs just flow. Finally, we get a proper recording of Ernie singing “Stepping Stone”. Frank Giordano belts out “Jailer Bring Me Water” – and I feel like I’m back in 1996. Awesome!

The 1987 live recordings of “Hard Luck Runner”, “A Matter of Survival”, and “Honor Among Thieves” are among my favourite tracks on the disc. They sound familiar, yet a bit raw, played with a lot of passion and determination. It’s been a while since the band played these songs live so it’s a real pleasure to indulge in this piece of rock music history.

There are two songs that were already on the “Light of Day” single: “We Are No Man” is now an acoustic live version and “Have Love Will Travel” in 1987 lacked the harmonica but still rocks. All in all, I (and the other backers) got an hour (!) of rare Brandos material that brings back plenty of good memories.