Archive for the ‘Music’ Category.

Squirrel

The challenge of the third round of SpinTunes #10 was to write a song with long run-on sentences. It took me a while to get a vague idea what the challenge was about. Loooong sentences are rather common in German, but there was no way I could communicate a German song to the (mostly English-speaking) SpinTunes audience and, in particular, the judges. I was stumped. But hey, what if I sang about German(y)? Could this be a topic worth rambling about? I wasn’t sure. I still don’t know. My only alternative idea was a detailed description of the pain of getting a part of your body pierced (while trying to impress your latest flame that talked you into it). I didn’t want to focus on pain and negative emotions (even in a comical way), so I began writing about my home country. Writing a song about an specific idea/concept is usually work and this song was no exception. Thankfully, I never ran out of inspiration. Most of the lyrics were written in the order I sing them. I only updated a couple of parts before I recorded the vocals.

I began composing the music when I had the first few verses and a rough idea where the refrain was headed. At first I found myself resorting to the chords and melody of a German traditional song (“Der Mönch im Nonnenkloster“) but eventually I found a sufficiently original approach, a catchy chorus, a chorus after the chorus (with lots of room for me to butcher the pronunciation of squirrel), and also a quick bridge to make it all more dynamic. I considered inserting the melody of the Germany national hymn between verses, but the song was already getting long. (I even shortened the second chorus.)

I consider the lyrics to be just a few looong sentences. I added two more parts with free-style rambling just to be sure that my entry would be run-on enough. The middle-part allowed me to address the issue of sarcasm. I felt this was necessary, because the initial lyrics came across almost serious. I mean, lines like “Invincible, almighty and fearless in the night” might go unnoticed. Finally, I have no idea what people who don’t understand German think of the line “their Bandwurmsätze are really, really long their Bandwurmsätze are really, really long”. Maybe one of the judges remarks on it. Anyway, I was thinking of making a video for the song; I won’t have time for that any time soon, though. Meanwhile, here’s the music/lyrics:

Squirrel

When it comes to building cars, Germany’s the best
And Germans on the Autobahn drive faster than the rest
With the pedal to the metal and reckless as can be
Just like Michael Schumacher racing down the street
Nothing that can stop us on and off the road
Be it truck or airplane, be it bicycle or boat

And with regard to soccer, I’m sure that you all know
The Germans won the World Cup while England had to go
And while we don’t like to admit it, our country makes us proud
‘Cos Germans are the greatest – there is really no doubt
Invincible, almighty and fearless in the night
And if there’s something broken, we can fix it all right
Yes, there is nothing that we Germans cannot do
‘Cos we know everything so much better than you
But as a citizen of this nation
I struggle with the pronunciation of ‘squirrel’

Germans built the wall and they tore it down again
And they still miss the Deutschmark every now and then
For example when it’s time to pay at the Oktoberfest
Where schnitzel, wurst and sauerkraut are easy to digest
As long as there is order, as long as there is beer
With Merkel on our side, there is nothing to fear

German maids are beautiful and German men are strong
And their Bandwurmsätze are really, really long
And all the Black Forest cuckoo’s clocks are never running late
So why not book a trip and come to see the Brandenburg Gate
Enjoy some German music: Rammstein, Volksmusik
We rock you like a hurricane until you agree
That there is nothing that we Germans cannot do
‘Cos we know everything so much better than you
But as a citizen of this nation
I struggle with the pronunciation of ‘squirrel’

Anyway, Germans are always on time, sticking to the rules, very talented and charming, fantastic singers – like me, for example – builders, engineers, inventors, Nobel Prize winners, Friedrich Nietzsche, you know, and Dirk Nowitzki, Pope Benedict, Beethoven, Wagner, Nena, handsome German people each and every one of them, big fans of discipline, yes, that’s us, and when we use sarcasm, it’s always 100% obvious, smart, efficient, never making any mistakes – and most of all we are very modest!

Ja, there is nothing that we Germans cannot do
‘Cos we know everything so much better than you
But as someone who grew up in this nation
I struggle with the pronunciation of ‘squirrel’

Why couldn’t they just call it “Eichhörnchen”? I mean, they took so many German words for the English language like Rucksack or Kindergarten and we also took some words from them like Handy or like Public Viewing – okay, we misused them*, but anyway, it’s so weird and I can’t pronounce it; it’s a tongue twister and, ah, it’s driving me crazy and did you know that Chip an’ Dale are called Ahörnchen and Behörnchen in German?

* Handy = mobile/cell phone, Public Viewing = broadcast of soccer games in public places

(words and music by Johannes Schult 2015 Creative Commons by-nc 4.0)

SpinTunes 10, Round #3 According to Jutze

Once again, I wrote down my thoughts while listening to the recent SpinTunes round (the third of SpinTunes 10). The challenge allowed us to play “our” style for the most part. So it was interesting to see, how clearly the long sentences stood out in each entry. Once again, my rating are purely subjective. All songs met the challenge in my opinion, so I won’t point this out for every song. (Check out the next post for a song bio of my entry.)

Adam Sakellarides – Too Verbose: The rhythm does remind me of the Weird Al example. The song nicely picks up the challenge and uses it as a starting point for its plot. The upbeat rhythm is partially successful in compensating for the monotone verse vocals. Not that the vocals are bad, but well, they *are* rather verbose. The chorus is good. The ending, however, is a bit irritating in my opinion; I’d have cut off the song before the final refrain. Maybe add some fire noise. Sirens. Honestly, I couldn’t really make out the words to the backing vocals in the chorus. They could have been more prominent in the mix. 7/10

Governing Dynamics – Recursion: Finally a challenge that isn’t at odds with the Governing Dynamics style. The verses and the chorus sound a bit too similar. The words successfully indicate the chorus but the music (including the vocal melody) remains a bit tame. 5/10

Kolton H. – Muse of the Machine: Tough stuff; I mean, I can barely make out the vocals. The songs seems ok. I read the lyrics beforehand and liked them quite a lot. Still, the final outcome is a tad too much soundtrack and not enough song for my taste. 3/10

Dreiviertel Drei – Homosocksual: The contrast between the sinister mood and the pun is fun! A sock-eating monster in the washing machine could have been the cherry on top of the cake. The vocals are off-key every now and then. Jus tlike with Governing Dynamics’ entry, the chorus could stand out a bit more. The final reverb hints at the possibilities. The mandolin (?) works nicely. 4/10

Megalodon – You Need to Know: Real drums, nice. It takes the song 30 seconds to get going. There’s a progressive rock feeling to the tune that should appeal to me, but where is the standout chorus? The instrumental side is more convincing than the vocals. In fact, I struggle to make out anything. Is this the song about Minecraft? Mh, not that I know anything about that. Or do I need to know about it? The fancy break in the middle is fun; the ending spices things up, but the lyrics are just too repetitive. 3/10

Jurek Mika – Yagi: This song might just work after drinking one beer too many. The challenge is met headon, I can’t argue about that. Sadly, the whole thing becomes too repetitive too fast. The middle eight doesn’t help – unless illegal psychoactive substances come into play, I guess. The instrumental outro could have brought some air into the song if it had been put in the middle of the song. 2/10

Zoe Gray – When the Rain Falls: The mood is a nice change compared to the previous song. However, it’s rather monotonous. This seems to be a side effect of this challenge. Maybe the judges will even reward it. The arrangement could have put some air after the refrain, before the subsequent verses. 3/10

Charlie McCarron – The Animal Song: The sarcastic lyrics are fun – and the music doesn’t get in their way. The rhythm changes provide the necessary possibility to breathe. My ears applaud this approach! I feel bad for the plethora of animals mistreated in the lyrics. Being the second longest song this round, it could have been edited a bit, I guess (maybe sacrificing the A-Z gimmick). Those were my initial thoughts. After watching the video clip, I love this song. The chorus is great (“Screw you!”), the animation is spot on. I’m glad I’m not an official judge, because the video might bias me. 8/10

The Boffo Yux Dudes – Love You: I can’t do this song justice like Sammy Kablan certainly can. Did you guys ressurrect Roy Orbison? The atmosphere is surreal; I might just pretend this is about the afterlife. The vocals have way too much vibrato for my taste. 4/10

Edric Haleen – The Land of No Punctuation: 100% Edric. Excellent. I tried to figure out the meter but gave up halfway through. The lyrics are fab – and unlike some of the other entries in this round, the song takes a (much needed?) break just when the run-on sentence reaches the limits of my patience (after a quick detour to the Land of No Inflection). The middle part itself is pleasantly soothing. The ending is cool. While not a song I’ll listen to on repeat, it will certainly put a smile on my face every time I hear it. 9/10

Atom & EV – Conspiracy Theory: High ranking for idea, low ranking for execution. Similarities to Bob Dylan and Billy Joel are obvious. I like the lyrics, but yeah, the production could be way better. 3/10

James Young at the Bottom of a Well – How Was Your Day?: The vocals are drowned in the backing track. I have no idea how to describe the character of this song. It could rob a bank and I wouldn’t be able to pick from a line-up. There is a mood, but again, unable to make out the lyrics I struggle with this one. 2/10

Jailhouse Payback – Reflections in My Eggs: The music runs on and on like the lyrics, I guess. The guitar solo brightens things up. Sadly, I can’t get a grip on the story/on the song. 2/10
The rat says: Sounds quite good.

Pete Murphy – Liars: Starts out like a Deep Purple song. The vocals start out great but become repetitive. I know, that’s a run-on sentence in each verse. If I were a judge this might make me rank this song near the top. Personally, I’d love to hear a few more hooks in between. Hats off for the organic, clear production. 4/10

Ross Durand – Catch Me: I must confess that I recently watched a Ross Durand live video on his homepage. And now I can’t help but wonder if the song would sound more dynamic, more gripping if it were only acoustic guitar (picked?) and vocals. Only a few moments stand out – I wish I would have listened to this one first to appreciate it more. 5/10

Dr. Lyndike – No Time for Dreams: Another confession: I always imagine Dr. Lyndike as Dave hammering away on his keyboard in the basement (?), because that’s how I first saw him when he played some Jonathan Coulton songs. So now I’m irritated by the band arrangement. I mean, where does the band come from? Why are there tons of guitarists with harmonicas in front of them, but no piano players with harmonicas? I like the approach of the song; the mood suits the lyrics. Packing a whole lifetime into the song was ambitious but they pulled it off. 7/10

Ben Taggart – How Was Your Day? (Shadow): The music is (too) repetitive, but the lyrical approach is fine. 2.6/10

Ominous Ride – After Happily Ever After (Shadow): Again, the music is (too) repetitive. The song sounds a bit boring. No, wait it’s hypnotic. And also a bit boring. And hypnotic. 3/10

Being Edric Haleen

The challenge of the second round of SpinTunes #10 was to write a horror song. This reminded of the hate song challenge in a previous edition of SpinTunes. I could have easily written about a madman and his victim. I just don’t see how this makes the world a better, or at least a more interesting place. Also, I listened to Devil Doll‘s “Dies Irae” album for inspiration, which is horror music in perfection. No way I could rival such a masterpiece. So instead, I went looking for something different. And soon enough I found fellow SpinTunes musician Edric Haleen. Edric has a place in my music folder (as well as in my heart) ever since his excellent take on “It All Makes Sense at the End“. My hope was that I could a certain amount of horror while also being entertaining.

I began writing the lyrics the day the challenge was announced. Two days later most of the lyrics were in place. I had some preliminary melodies in my head, as well. The original plan, however, was to play expressive chords on the keyboard and adapt the lyrics to fit the piano extravaganza. The only problem was that I didn’t have a keyboard. Mine had broken a couple of months earlier and I hadn’t gotten a replacement. So I frantically ordered a new one at my formerly local dealer, hoping it’d arrive in time. It didn’t. Thursday evening I turned to Plan B, which involved composing the verse and bridge (and intro) on guitar. Friday found me returning to the initial refrain melody in my head and piecing together some chords to fit it. By chance, I got up rather early on Saturday and started programming the whole thing. Looking back, I’m not sure I could have produced the song faster with a keyboard. I guess the fills would have been more dynamic and weirder. The tempo changes throughout the song, so I kept building it from intro to outro, part by part, note by note. There are a few things I would change in hindsight, like the transition to the second chorus, the unnecessary repetition of the “seen” rhyme in the third chorus, the bars after “heavy metal connection” (with ascending three-note fills instead), and the jolly intermission after the third chorus (which I only included because I thought I should add something I played ad lib on my MacBook’s keyboard).

Recording the vocals was fun (but not for my throat). I cited some of Edric’s songs and alluded to his rather long entry in the previous round. I also included a couple of bars of the German national hymn (switched to a minor key) after the word “Germany”. I’m aware that the mathematical stuff in my lyrics is statistical stuff. The trouble with song writing contests is that there’s never enough time to research anything properly. I was tempted to interview Edric beforehand – or even invite him to play on the song. In the end, I wanted to keep the surprise. Also, he was probably busy with his entry (or his dog). And did I mention that there’s never enough time?

Being Edric Haleen

There was a little door behind my office desk
I was just curious when I looked inside
What happened next felt rather Kafkaesque
A metaphysical roller coaster ride to the other side

I woke up in a body that wasn’t mine
In a bedroom in a house that wasn’t mine
At least I had retained some of my volition
So I looked for a mirror to examine my condition
It was weirder than anything I had ever seen
I was trapped inside the body of Edric Haleen

Aaaah!

I was no longer bald and I had a beard
Maybe this wasn’t as bad as I had feared
I looked down at my/his trembling hands
But I did not dare to peek into those pants
At least I hadn’t turned into Charlie Sheen
But it felt scary being trapped inside Edric Haleen

A woman I’d never seen came in and tried to kiss me
She said that I should hurry or else the kids would miss me
Did this mean that we had kids? Or that I was a teacher?
I really didn’t know the standard operating procedure
I ran out onto a street I’d never seen
And still I was trapped inside Edric Haleen

I just want to go back home to Germany
But now that I’m Edric – what if he’s me?
Will he go out and trade my heavy metal collection
For Billy Joel, Elton John, Barry White, Elvis Costello and the Attraction?
What have I done? What does it mean?
I’m trapped inside the body of Edric Haleen

I want to be Jutze again – I’ve had enough
But now I feel the urge to sing about mathematical stuff (…99999999999…)
The variance of a binary variable is p times (1 – p)
Why the heck does this dog keep barking at me?
This song must be at least 6 minutes 15
Oh the horror of being trapped inside Edric Haleen
It all makes sense at the end – but I’m stuck in between
Will I ever find a way out of Edric Haleen?
Just let me out!

(words and music by Johannes Schult 2015 Creative Commons by-nc 4.0)

SpinTunes #10, Round 2 According to Jutze

Here are my impressions from the second round of SpinTunes #10 (listen here!) – written and presented in the order in which I listened to the entries. This time around, my ratings reflect my personal taste (Do I like the song?) more than the successful induction of horror (Is it scary?). Why? Well, the first song I heard made me adopt this rule.

Dr. Lindyke – Happy Anniversary My Darling (shadow): Wonderful mood. Maybe a bit too much sadness, not enough horror. Of course, knowing that the song can be considered to be based on a true story, it is rather scary. The vocals become a bit too operatic as the dynamics rise. A little bit. Lots of bits here. Mh. I like the piano, I like the vocals. The “twist” at the end is rather disgusting than horrific. (Or should I have more empathy with the deceased?) Oh, screw the “low ratings for songs that don’t meet the challenge head on” attitude: 7/10

Dr. Lindyke – Howl in the Family: Mh, the happy country mood is not horrific at all. To be honest, I like both – Country and Western. So I really enjoy this song. But does it explore the horror genre musically? Thankfully, it’s a shadow, so I just refrain from rating it while I bop along. -/10

Kolton H. – Insanity’s Requiem: I’m not much of a techno fan. (Or whatever else this style should be called). I know I should elaborate how this song makes me feel. The problem is that there’s a void in my emotional core when I listen to this. The production is solid and the lyrics seem creepy. It’s me, not you. 2/10

Pete Murphy: Mellotron sounds in the background? The lyrics are rather sick. The slow built and the lush instrumentation prevent them from becoming too creepy. I really like the production of this one. The song could have been shorter as the lyrics don’t really go anywhere after the first third. I want to have a Mellotron! Mh, I really should look for some nice samples, at least. 4/10

Charlie McCarron – Knock at Your Door: Nick Cave? Tom Waits after rehab? Is this horrific? It’s a bit irritating. The lyrics could stand out a bit more. Listening to this, I feel uneasy. So bonus points for this. 4/10

Ross Durand – Lullaby?: Rock! Rock! Rock! Travis shouldn’t have mentioned Rob Zombie, I guess. I didn’t think Ross could rock like this. The song reaches a good conclusion around 1:11. Stupid 2 minute minimum rule. Dr. Lindyke wrote in their song bio that horror lyrics should be subtle. Ross isn’t subtle. I like Ross’s song. He should sell it to Alice Cooper. 6/10

The Masked Stranger – Oh So  Under Zyvytehliahtysrecht: This is madness! Nice grind core touch. No subtlety here, either. I can’t make out the lyrics; I have no clear memory of what they were about. Who cares? Evil voice at the very end, ha! 2/10

Dreiviertel Drei – Schnipp Schnapp: Finally, some music that is clearly in the tradition of horror movie soundtracks. The (male) vocals seem a bit childish. Which is good for the song. I’m just glad I didn’t follow my own “Schnipp Schnapp” idea. Overall, the song might be too quiet. An “Ouch” every now and then could have spiced things up. Do I like the song? No, it’s way too scary. So how the hell do I rate it given it’s the most spot on realization of the challenge? 5/10

Jurek Mika – Scream Funk (Screaming): This sounds horrific – and not in a horror challenge-meeting way. Sorry. The brutality I make out is appalling. The challenge was met, but I still give 1/10

James Young – She’s a Monster: Ah, the challenge was to write a smooth, relaxed song for the dance floor. No, wait. This turns into a rock song. Pop rock. Midnight Oil? Anyhow, this is groovy and laid back. The lyrics play around with love/hate feelings – they could as well be about your typical AOR topics. The music is nice. My rating isn’t (despite the good production). 3/10

Ben and the Angel Fish – Slaughterhouse of Mercy: Weird title. Weird intro. The lyrics are dark. Darkness is difficult if you’re not the Sisters of Mercy (see what I did here?). The music remains slow; it could have been a bit more engaging, I guess. No, I don’t exactly know what I mean by that. The harmonies are great for this challenge. As several previous entries, it’s difficult to discern the individual parts. Is there a refrain? Is there a climax? Is there a twist? I don’t know. 4/10

David J –  Sleep Child Sleep: Time for an autobiographical note: I’m very good at falling asleep. So this flood of lullabies sounds a bit pointless to me. It feels a bit as if you’re playing it safe. Which is okay. I’d rather have this than a song called “Oh So  Under Zyvytehliahtysrecht”. There is some kind of outburst in the middle of this song, but for the most part it doesn’t stand out (just like the previous song). 3/10

Edric Haleen – Sweet Dreams (2): What, no song about math test anxiety? I’m disappointed. Just kidding. Several people had remarked that the challenge was similar to the nightmare challenge from SpinTunes #4. Writing a sequel seems like a natural choice. The song turned out way too quiet, though. The non-piano instruments could have used more space to enhance the atmosphere, I guess. I’m thinking of chromatic lines and sudden outbursts here. I add a point because I’d certainly be more open to the approach if I hadn’t already heard several similar songs in this round. 4/10

Gorbzilla and the Gorbzookies – Tea Party: Finally, a song that deviates from the lullaby theme. I wish the lyrics wouldn’t be so buried in the distortion. Fortunately, I’ve read them beforehand. And now I feel the horror. Musically, this entry leave to be desired. And it could have been shorter. Still, I very much applaud the approach! 4/10

Atom & EV: The Demon Rig: The guitar needs more twang! I wish the playing was tighter. The narrative in the verses is wonderful. The melody line in the chorus is, mh, not so good. I can relate to suboptimal vocal talents. I can recommend triple-tracking the vocals – one voice in the middle along with one (slightly quieter) track on the left and one on the right. The story is scary enough and it doesn’t turn me off. Good! 5/10

Jailhouse Payback – The Doomed Guitar: More Country & Western? That’s fine with me – but again I get the feeling that it doesn’t really meet the challenge. The chords sound sad rather than creepy; the lyrics tend to support this notion. If I were a judge I’d give a lower rating but I enjoy listening to this one, so it’s 5/10.

Governing Dynamics – To the Honorable Charles W. Yancy, From Your Admirers: I want a SpinTunes edition with solely sad, melancholic, introverted indie rock songs. And I want Travis to win that competition. Meanwhile, here is an overlong song about I don’t know what. It breaks my heart to not find this more than okay-ish. 3/10

The Boffo Yux Dudes – Uninvited Guest: The voices in Tom’s head caught on tape? Weird? Yes. Scary? Sort of. Hilarious? Possibly. Once again, I feel uneasy. Bonus points for that. 3/10

Domingo – 4 Madrigals for Lilith: I had liked the lyrics when I read them online earlier. The choir approach sounds impressive. Making it four parts is a good way to avoid too much repetition. One note around 1:58 seems off key and the following transition takes away some of the atmosphere. Still, it’s a tense composition and each part is different enough to keep me on the edge of my seat. Good work! 7/10

Army Defense – Asylum Nights: Another choir song? No, more pop rock. The production sounds good; the drums have a 70s vibe. Good vocals. Not a lot of horror here. Sure, the lyrics are not happy-go-lucky. Still, from a challenge point of view there is not much here. Nevertheless, I enjoy listening to the track. Here’s 6/10

“BucketHat” Bobby – Back from Hell: Hell’s a place where the singers are French, right? The music has a sad touch whereas the vocals bring some insanity to the song. It’s more a song than a horror movie soundtrack. So it could have been way more horrific. Still, one of the better songs this round in my opinion. 5/10

Megalodon – Daddy Daughter Day: Horror jazz? Well, I’ve heard worse jazz tunes. Ah, metal intermission with mad lyrics that totally destroy the song. I’m glad the song returns to the light jazz. The child’s vocals are irritating in this context. More metal. I better turn down the volume. Now the guitars play lullaby melodies. What an irritating track. This should rank high on most challenge criteria, although I don’t think it’s a “good” song. 2/10

Emperor Gum – Express: The background track is wonderfully creepy. The artifical hihat is slightly annoying. I know, I’m complaining a lot – earlier I said some songs were too quiet. Now I wish the initial mood would prevail. Instead, it’s time to rock. The melodies are weird. This might be good for the challenge. However, I find it hard to focus after the intro. Mayhem. Chaos. Almost done. Mh. 2/10 (which just shows that this is certainly not a unidimensional measurement, because this song is totally different from Megalodon’s, which got the same rating.)

Adam Sakellarides – For Sale: Lyrically, a traditional haunted house story. Sadly, the character of the ghost remains vague. The music is hesitant and not really creepy. Otherwise I might haven given more than 2/10

Zoe Gray – Grave: Yet another quiet song. A solid entry that could have been shorter, I guess. The sparse instrumentation makes it easier to digest, but it lacks some horror elements. 4/10
(The rat says: One of the better ones. Not that it is creepy. I don’t feel afraid. Anyway, nice melody, nice voice.)

Omnious Ride – White Rose (shadow): Interesting intro. Could be part of a creepy musical. The drums at 1:30 temporarily destroy some of the atmosphere. A few other parts could be shortened, as well. I think. The vocals need to make the story clearer. Make some central words/phrases stand out. Repeat them if necessary. 5/10

Melissa Leona –  Come With Me: The horror of having a rehearsal space with thin walls. The singer is trying to sing some nice melodies but noises intrude from all around. And then she can’t get the reverb out of the PA. What do you mean, this interpretation wasn’t intended? Well, I like it, thus: 4/10

Caleb Hines – Buried Alive (shadow): Ah, finally, some true horror music. Excellent choice of instruments. Spooky harmonies. Caleb manages to weave various creepy melodies into a tense atmosphere. No rock drums interrupt the flow. Instead, the pace quickens around 1:30 only to return to the initial state of suspense. And that return isn’t a discernible switch but a steady progression towards the core of my fears. Good albeit haunting work. 10/10

SpinTunes #10, Round 1 According to Jutze

Here are my impressions from the first round of SpinTunes #10 (listen here!) – written and presented in the order in which I listened to the entries. The rating at the end reflects a) sympathy and b) nailing the challenge.

Gorbzilla – First Kiss: The ride cymbal is a bit too prominent in the mix. Otherwise, this is a good tune that suits the challenge/mood perfectly. It has this movie soundtrack feeling to it. The lead guitar in the middle is restrained enough to not distract from the romantic mood. The breaks come at the right moments. Good vocals, by the way. The mood reminds me a bit of “Don’t Let Me Down” by the Beatles (which itself suits the challenge well). 9/10

Governing Dynamics – Introvert Asks to Spend the Night: The big question here was whether I can still enjoy Travis’s music now that he cut his hair. The answer is yes. The song sounds a bit fast for a candlelight soundtrack. I might have prefered a more melancholic tune, yet it brings a smile to my face to find Governing Dynamics in a good mood. Rock on! 6/10

Jailhouse Payback – Another Line: A nice pop song with a bit of country here and there. The production sounds good (harmonica! slide guitar or pedal steel or whatever that is); the vocals are okay. The few minor chords in between spice things up in a nice way. 8/10

Pete Murphy – (I Wanna) Get It on With You: Whoa, professional production. Funky guitars. Soundtrack for a candlelight dinner AT A BAR. Judging from the title this is a bit more straightforward than most of the other entries. (What do I know, I’m only four songs into the round.) The rating is torn between a good fit regarding the challenge and a musical style I do not like that much. 6/10

Dreiviertel Drei – Gag Reflex: The music spreads a mellow summer evening’s atmosphere. Lyrically, mh, forget what I wrote about the previous song; this one here aims way beyond a romantic embrace. Consequently, things get creepy during the song. I wouldn’t want this hear this song during a date (or during a wedding or a funeral for that matter). The final twist got lost on me the first time I listened to “Gag Reflex”. Maybe it should have been featured more prominent. 3/10

Ominous Ride – Open Your Fire: The singing voice is quite low; maybe spice things up with more variation next time? The song starts out very un-intrusive. It takes up pace and ends up in Funkytown. Personally, I prefer the piano parts of the verses. All in all this is a solid effort. The lyrics contain no real surprises – which isn’t that bad for this challenge. 5/10

Pigfarmer Jr – Hold You Tonight: He: Here, have a seat; I’ll just put away that guitar. She: You play guitar? He: Well, a bit. She: Will you play me a song? He: Nah, I don’t know. She: Come on, please? He: Okay *sings this song*. The tune sounds a bit clumsy, but in the scenario I just described it should work perfectly. Nice bass notes towards the end. Charming lyrics. 7/10

Buckethat Bobby – Glad You Came: I find little I like here, sorry. I don’t think the vocal melodies suit a romantic evening. 2/10

Brian Gray – Just You and Me: There is a restless undercurrent that might distract from romantic endeavours. The vocals are great as expected. The breaks are a bit off; maybe I’m still too impressed by Gorbzilla’s entry. Anyway, Brian Gray does not disappoint. 7/10

Charlie McCarron – If You Need Romance: Soft, pop meets jazz. Certainly meeting the challenge. The singer seems a bit reluctant. The ending is, mh, too real to be good? 5/10

David J – Language of Love: Finally, a nice lyrical twist. The music is very laid back. This could have ended up way worse. (But also more to the point, tighter.) 5/10

Dex01 – Get Together: Blues is sort of a contrast to happily getting together music. The resulting song is nice and makes me wish I’d be more generous with my ratings. 4/10

The Buffo Yux Dudes – I Can’t Get Enough: The Buffo Yux Dudes explore their 70s pop roots. This song should help to ‘break the ice’, even if it’s just a relaxed talk about the strange sounds of the stereo. I’m very much looking forward to see Sammy Kablam get annoyed by this one. Meanwhile I’ll give it 2/10

Jutze – This Could Be the Night: I was trying to channel Chris de Burgh. My vocals suck, but I just had to do a ‘serious’ entry. I’m rather satisfied with the backing track production. ?/10

The Ken Kesey Fan Club – How to Seduce Women: Pigfamer Jr gone bad? Creepy stuff. Lyrically AND musically. It somehow underscores the difficulty of approaching this challenge with sarcasm. I find little to like here, sorry. 1/10

Atom & EV – Tarzan and Jane: Simple, primal, effective. At first the song is weird, and in between it gets a bit dirty. Nevertheless, I find the concept refreshing. The execution reflects the primitive story of (mutual?) affection. 6/10

Ben and the Angel Fish – Love’s Lost: Beautiful piano playing. The voice is nice, but its production is somewhat poor. I’m afraid, the song is too sad for the challenge. It’s not too sad for my taste, though. The challenge demanded a soundtrack for a candlelight dinner – NOT necessarily a song about a candlelight dinner. Consequently, “Love’s Lost” could work, after all. 7/10

Ben Taggart – The Story of Us: It’s easy to rate this one, but hard to comment on it. The vocals sound somewhat undecided. The guitar is lonely rather than romantic. The lyrics don’t stand out, go on a tangent or two. The song remains too plain to be sweet in my ears. In the end, it’s a solid effort but nothing I’ll return to when compiling a date CD. 4/10

Megalodon – Can’t Weight: Another song that’s more suited for a date in a bar than for a date at home. Bonus points for the saxophone – not an instrument I usually enjoy but the definite romance instrument, anyway. Moving the lyrics to space is a nice idea, one of the more successful attempts of humor in this round (in my opinion). In the end, it’s just my personal taste that prevents a higher rating, sorry. 4/10

Emperor Gum – Tianjin: This tune sounds rather bland to my ears. I’d consider this dating music only if it were played quietly – at which point almost all music becomes dating music. Okay, not all music. This is more a soundtrack for an old black and white home movie than for a candlelight dinner. Maybe for an old black and white movie about a candlelight dinner? 3/10

Julian and the Self – Love Is in the Air: High male vocals meet uninspired vocal melodies – is this going to be a progressive rock song? No, it’s not. It keeps lacking direction. A mellow acoustic guitar meets a hungry cat. The mood is consistent throughout the song, but (apart from the solid lyrics) I don’t see much dating soundtrack potential. 2/10

Taylor Rundell – Make a Move: Could be the sonical backdrop in a club or at a bar. The song doesn’t appeal to me. The lyrics leave a taunting impression on me. The mellow moments in between are a tiny bit irritating. Make a move, but hey, just relax? The production is all right. Certainly not one of my favourites, though. 2/10

Dr. Lindyke – Date Night: A song about a date rather than for a date – the mood is good. The performance is flawless (or rather quite appropriate), as I’ve come to expect from Dr. Lindyke. The tone of the lyrics might be a bit too offensive.  5/10

Army Defense – Sexiest Sex: Various stuff happens throughout this song, but I struggle to connect it to a romantic date. The electric guitar has a few nice moments. The lyrics have a hard time being subtle. Musically, I would have liked more direction. 2/10

Ross Durand – I Wish: A song about a date AND a song for a date – Ross Durand doesn’t disappoint. It helps that he has a great voice. The song develops in a nice, cozy fashion. The guitar playing is spot on, the additional tracks enhance the song without taking away from the main melody and overall mood. The part before the ending is a bit too loud, I guess. Then again, the actual ending is just beautiful. 8/10

Domingo – Escondidas: A song in Spanish (which I don’t speak) – tricky. It suits the candlelight dinner rather well. The middle parts a bit too dense. The vocals lose their emotion here. Anyway, the song could suit a date, so I’ll give it 4/10

Adam Sakellarides – All I Wanna Do: Sheryl Crow did it better, I’m afraid. This tune here aims at a similar groove. It should facilitate good feelings rather than romance. The ending, well, doesn’t really facilitate either. 2/10

Mariah Mercedes – As Charming as You: Jazz alarm. Strong vocals. Suitable lyrics. The song suits a cozy date, preferably late at night. A person who likes jazz would give this one certainly more than 5/10

James Young – In the Dark of the Night: Rock alarm. Pop rock. This song is probable suited for a drunk-at-the-bar-sort of date. I fail to see how it should draw two souls closer together. The lyrics attempt to link the song to romance. They just don’t stand out in any way. The wailing solo guitar sounds nice but the last thing you want during the date is the other person making eyes at a fancy guitar player, instead. 3/10

Kolton H – Binary Love: A computer love song that works to a certain degree. It suits an LED light dinner better than a candlelight dinner. The keyboard sounds and the computerized vocals make this song stand out from the rest of the field. I applaud the audacity but the actual song is too flat most of the time to elicit more than a nod. 4/10

Jurek Mika – The Mood for You: Sublety? No way! Not my cup of tea – no clear melody, monotone lyrics, lacklustering vocals. And way too much repetition. 1/10

Melissa Leona –  Rocking in the Waves: Finally, some more 80s drum computers. The production is a bit unbalanced: sometimes the vocals get buried, sometimes the piano becomes rather loud. Apart from this, the song has a subtle tension that suits the challenge. The change to major chords halfway through the song is surprising. I could do without it. Keep the tension and hope that the listeners find a way to loosen things. 4/10

Zoe Gray – Make the Most of It: A good balance between mellow and energetic. The higher vocals in the chorus spice things up before the title line gets back to a more subtle mood. The lyrics seem a bit crammed and over the top here and there. Less sarcasm might have improved the song. Still, it’s one of the better ones this round. 7/10

Red Watcher – Hopeless Dreamer: Do I spot a progressive rock vibe here? And is this a bad thing given that progressive rock is not suited as date music? Is it wrong to write these remark entirely as questions? The lyrics clearly aim at the challenge whereas the music relies on a beat I’d consider unromantic (3-3-2 claves or whatever you want to call it). 2/10

Edric Haleen –  2-14-11: The low voice is a bit creepy. Am I surprised that Edric chose a sarcastic/science-related approach? No. Would I have preferred a cheesy piano ballad? Hell yeah! Linking the song to Valentine’s Day is not helpful, in my opinion. The tune could have been way shorter, too. 2/10

Dota live in Saarbrücken – eins der letzten großen Abenteuer unser Zeit

Dota Kehr spielte heute Abend zusammen mit Gitarrist und Kleininstrumentebediener Jan Rohrbach im kleinen Club der Garage in Saarbrücken. Es war ein hinreißender Auftritt voller Spiel- und Wortwitz. Grob geschätzt 150 Leute füllten den Raum gut, so dass den gesamten Abend über eine gemütliche Atmosphäre herrschte. In diesem Rahmen wurden zwischendurch auch zahlreiche neue Stücke zum Besten gegeben. Jedes einzelne davon gehörte zu den Höhepunkten des Auftritts. Entsprechend erwarte ich nun ungeduldig das nächste Album, wann immer es rauskommen wird. Passend dazu lud Dota zum dazugehörigen Crowdfunding auf die altmodische Art ein, sprich zum Kauf ihrer bisherigen Alben.

Aus ihrem bisherigen Schaffen wählte die auch als Kleingeldprinzessin bekannte Sängerin neben den meisten Stücken des aktuellen Albums “Wo soll ich suchen” allerlei Perlen, bei denen häufig Mitsingen angesagt war (“Kein Morgen”, “Ohrsteckermädchen”, “Astronaut”). Das Schöne dabei ist natürlich, dass die Musik kein plattes “We Will Rock You” war, sondern hochmelodische Liedermacher-Stücke mit peppigen Jazz- und Folk-Einflüssen. Jan Rohrbach unterlegte die Musik mit herrlichen Klangfarben, so dass der Auftritt nicht so eindimensional wie Lagerfeuermusik wirkte. Gleichzeitig haftete den Liedern kein unnötiger Ballast an, also kein wummernder Bass, keine hektische Lichtshow, keine Multimedia-Spielerein. Einfach gute Musik!

Die eigenwillige Stilkombination spiegelte sich auch im Publikum wider, in dem sich diverse Generationen und Geschlechter tummelten. Zwischen den Stücken entwickelte sich der Running Gag vom letzten großen Abenteuer unserer Zeit, das den Scorpions zufolge der Rock’n’Roll sein soll. So wurden dann Autobahnraststätten, Bonustracks, Mitschnipsen und Wackelkontakte zum letzten großen Abenteuer unserer Zeit gekürt, sehr zur Erheiterung aller Beteiligten. Dieser Leichtigkeit, dieser Freude stand in der Musik meist eine gewisse Melancholie gegenüber. Genau diese Mischung empfinge ich gerade jetzt noch einmal. Denn einerseits habe ich die schönen Erinnerungen an das Konzert, dem trotz Deutschem Kleinkunstpreis irgendwie der Geheimtipp-Charakter anhaftete. Andererseits möchte ich die Freude teilen, also der Welt diese faszinierenden Lieder über das verwürschte Leben nahebringen, auf dass Dota goldene Schallplatten bekommt und die Welt ein besserer Ort wird.

Übrigens brauchte Dota an diesem Abend noch nicht einmal darauf hinweisen, dass Fotografieren und Filmen während des Auftritts störend ist. Alle lauschten gebannt und niemand fuchtelte mit seinem Handy in der Luft herum. Sehr löblich! Hier noch die gespielte Setlist:

  1. Hoch oben
  2. Sommer
  3. Warten auf Wind
  4. Neues Lied (Da ist ein Monster…)
  5. Die alte Piratin
  6. Das Wesen der Glut
  7. Im Tausch
  8. Neues Lied (Ich hab die Blumen weggeworfen und die Katze verschenkt)
  9. Risse
  10. Neues Lied (Geld verdirbt den Charakter)
  11. Neues Lied (Bald fang ich wieder an zu kiffen)
  12. Neues Lied (Ich meld mich ab / Erdenbewohnerin / Es gibt Grenzen)
  13. Bis auf den Grund
  14. Kein Morgen
  15. So gut riechst du
  16. Ohrsteckermädchen
  17. Du musst dich nicht messen
  18. Konfetti
  19. Wo soll ich suchen
  20. Utopie
  21. Astronaut
  22. Alles Du

Lieder, die Phrasenmäher covern sollten

Phrasenmäher sind gerade beim Crowdfunden. Im Angebot gibt es dabei die mir liebe Option eines Cover-Songs, der im konkreten Fall preislich sogar im Rahmen des moralisch Vertretbaren liegt. Seit einigen Wochen (!) hirne ich nun, welches Lied ich wählen soll. Hier ist meine vorläufige Kandidatenliste:

  1. WIZO: “Brief/Telefon/Tür” – Eigentlich mein Favorit, aber das “Arschloch” im Refrain könnte deplaziert wirken. Wobei die Band stattdessen natürlich “Gänseblümchen” singen könnte oder “Angela Merkel”.
  2. Martin Sommer: “Drachen” – Sehr Liedermacher-ig, aber eben textlich nah an dem Charme von Phrasenmäher.
  3. Reinhard Mey: “Vernunft breitet sich aus über die Bundesrepublik Deutschland” – Ich mag die Live-Version viel lieber als das Studio-Original. Vielleicht würde die Band hier eine spannende Version kreieren.
  4. Reinhard Mey: “Zwei Hühner auf dem Weg nach Vorgestern” – Diese Stück dürfte auch 40 Jahre nach seinem Erscheinen pfiffig und heiter klingen.
  5. Alphaville: “Leben ohne Ende” – Obskure Mischung aus gutem Pop und futuristischem Text. Glaube ich.
  6. WIZO: “Anruf” – Tolle Melodien, kein Sinn im Text, ja, das würde ich gerne mal in einer Bandversion hören.
  7. Jutze: ??? – Oder vielleicht einen Song von mir? Ach nein, das ist zu narzistisch, zumal ich auch keinen passenden zur Hand habe. (“Fremde Leute”, ein bislang unveröffentlichtes 52-Sekunden-Lied wäre nett, aber ja, nett eben.)

Meet Pottörhead

Pottörhead is late to the party that is wizard rock (wrock). Pottörhead will face the challenge and drink up all the leftovers before diving head first into the pool. Crap, there was no water in the pool.

Anyway, here comes the “Happy Dementor“!

Band Websites Suck.

Much like university websites, band websites suck. It is just too hard to archive all news items and to compile a complete list of concerts and releases. There have been some promising sites but one by one they got sacked. A lack of updates would have been bad. Still, every band homepage I’ve ever cherished has been cut down during the past 13 years. There might be a couple of artists I’m not really a fan of who still have a proper web presense. And there are, of course, some fan sites that provide all the info. (That’s what I attempt to do on anglagard.net.) Most offical band pages, however, have simply been replaced by shallow marketing schemes. New album out soon! Winter tour dates. And only then did they stop the updates. It used to make me angry. Now it only makes me sad, because I still don’t see why the old stuff has to go as soon as a new album is coming out. Our rather, a new social media campaign manager is on board.

The Pine Hill Cover Album According to Jutze

Richard Shindell and Lucy Kaplansky announced a new album of cover songs. One of the crowd-funding options is a cover version of your choice. The current price (3,000 US$) is off my limits, so I could just stop there. Or I could fantasize about which songs would make a good choice. After a couple of days of rumination I’ve begun to see a silver lining: It’s terribly difficult to pick just one song. Of course, I still hope they lower the price – but well, here is my current list of potential covers with some remarks.

  1. The Hooters: “May You Always Fit the Shoe” – an unreleased song that was played live in 1992. I only have a noisy live version, so I’d love to get a better recording. The original has some nice vocals by the late Mindy Jostyn, so this would be a great duet for Richard and Lucy. Fun fact: Co-writer Rob Hyman has collaborated with Dar Williams on all of her newer albums.
  2. Dave Carter: “Calvary’s Hill” – another unreleased song that I only heard played by Ron Greitzer and Tracy Grammer (in a lo-fi mp3). A hauntingly beautiful song with great harmonies.
  3. The Brandos: “Hallowed Ground” – my favourite Band with one of their folk-influenced songs.
  4. David Kincaid: “Paddy’s Lamentation” – an Irish traditional with lyrics from the Civil War. This one would suit Richard perfectly, in my opinion.
  5. The Coalminers’ Beat: “Take Me High Above” – a song about violence in Northern Ireland. The combination of male and female vocals makes this a very good contender; also, I’m still not over the fact that the band broke up.
  6. The Del-Lords: “Poem of the River” – it is very tempting to simply list my favourite songs. Still, Richard and Lucy should be able to contribute something unique to the compositions.
  7. Bruce Springsteen: “My Hometown” or “Dancing in the Dark” – Richard already tackled a couple of Springsteen’s songs. I’d love to hear more!
  8. Bon Jovi: “Last Man Standing” – the slower version from “100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong” already hints at the potential of this song as a folk number.
  9. Chris de Burgh: “Last Night” – possibly an odd choice. Yet, it’s a tale told in a song and could possibly be turned from pop to folk.
  10. Iron Maiden: “Alexander the Great” – certainly an odd choice. This one would need a thorough transformation. Not sure how the outcome would sound. Quite a gamble for 3,000 bucks.
  11. Traveling Wilburys: “Tweeter and the Monkey Man” – Richard already did a Dylan cover. This one has more narrative elements and also a group feel to it that maybe could be translated in the duo setting.
  12. Per Gessle: “Elvis in Deutschland” – this is the demo from the re-release of the album “The World According to Gessle”. Another experiment in terms of turning pop into folk.
  13. Genesis: “Smalltalk” – I’m embarrassed that I listed so many songs from major label releases. Anyhow, Richard could make this one even more intense, I guess.
  14. Pat Algar: “Once in a Very Blue Moon” – Richard’s take on this one is stunning to say the least.

I’m tempted to add more songs, say, CCR‘s “Someday Never Comes” and “Brothers in Arms” (Dire Straits); but I think these songs are already perfect. Any cover version would be bound to disappoint on some level. And the list above would already be 42,000 dollars, no need to increase the costs further.

PS: Naturally, I’d love it if they were to include some of their unreleased songs, for example, “Walden Well” (Richard) and “If You Love Someone That’s What You Do” (Lucy).