Chromeo – Come Alive (feat. Toro Y Moi).

April 18th, 2014 by Henry

Ahhh, I know, I know, it is Good Friday, and on this day, it is not allowed to play music in public places in Germany. Well, this day is all about Christians, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. So, for many people, this is a sad day – a day to make you rest and think, since it is one of the most important days in many Christian churches.

But you know what? I prefer to spend this day celebrating spring and the good things in life. And here is a great example of how to do that. My favourite all-80s-funk-pop crooners Chromeo have done it again and are due to release their new album White Women in May. Until then, enjoy this piece of groove, melody and – maybe most important – fun, also starring Toro Y Moi, who had a great album out last year.

Chet Faker – Talk Is Cheap.

April 18th, 2014 by Henry

Here is yet another (well, at least for me) new artist that I just discovered today – in iTunes, with their “related artists and albums” feature, would you believe it? And I must admit, this is yet another facet of my musical taste that this one brings up: It is indeed some sort of singer-songwriter style, but with a beautiful twist. He is not just that regular guy-with-a-guitar type, but instead employs samplers, analog synths, drum machines, and not least my beloved Rhodes piano for that mellow jazz appeal.

His voice does remind me a bit of John Grant, who had this fantastic song on his last year album Pale Green Ghosts, although Chet Faker’s style does not appear as dark and deep. It is the nice melancholy, though, that appeals to me. If you like it too, support the artist, please.

Throwing Snow feat. Adda Kaleh – The Tempest.

April 13th, 2014 by Henry

I am a sucker for odd beats, deep bass, weird, experimental sound effects and not least silky, female vocals. This video has it all, plus some well-known, but still effective visuals:

There is also going to be an album on Houndstooth in summer – can’t wait!

James Blake – Limit to your Love.

April 9th, 2014 by Henry

Just listened to this song again – and following up on yesterday’s thoughts about cover versions, I think this one fits nicely as one of the best cover versions I’ve ever heard. In fact, I find this one significantly better even than Feist’s original. Of course, that is a matter of taste – but on this blog, my taste rules, doesn’t it?

Maybe, I should make a mixtape compilation of great cover versions. Suggestions anyone?

Original cover material.

April 8th, 2014 by Henry

Alright, I kind of stole the title of this post from Mike Skinner’s still phenomenal debut album. But here is my point that I came to think of while I just listened to this beautiful song performed by Agnes Obel:

That is, are cover versions worth anything else than just being an exercise for singers and instrument players? What is the point of releasing a cover performance as part of your own artistic work? In this case, I actually believe, the benefit is that the singer added another level to the original song, added a new facet of the mood into the song that wasn’t there before in the same way. So, in this instance, I can answer my own question easily and say yes, it is worth publishing cover versions amongst your own work. But the disclaimer is: It’s got to be unique and it’s got to make sense.

Covering another song just because you can, doesn’t make sense, in my opinion. Then, please leave it in the rehearsal room or your bedroom studio and don’t bother the world with your redundant attempts. In fact, and this is not supposed to be a rant against cover versions, I believe that about 99% of all cover versions are obsolete.

Take, for example, the recent fashion in covering Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game (unofficial video): Emika, London Grammar, Daughtry… even HIM, and many, many more – and they all ruined it superbly. Please, leave the song where it is – or make sense of it. What do you think?

EU Court of Justice says “no” to data retention directive.

April 8th, 2014 by Henry

Finally. Finally, someone proved that the EU data retention directive is a massive piece of complete and utter rubbish. Thank you. The Court of Justice of the European Union has just dismissed the directive on almost all levels. Here is a post in German Spiegel Online, as well as on English ZDNet.

Of course, there may be good reasons to keep some data in certain scenarios. And yes, it will continue to be a challenge to balance between security and safety for countries, people, institutions and corporations on one side – and the fundamental human right of (data) privacy on the other. But, in my opinion, it was about time that someone stopped the useless collection of insane amounts of personal and private data – with basically no reason to do so and with pretty much no evidence that it would help achieving anything. Now, at least, it has been made much more difficult for the responsible EU commission to come up with a new directive. In a nutshell, this is what they need to improve – and that is quite a lot (list quoted from Spiegel Online, as linked above):

  • The EU Directive requires to store all metadata, without proper differences, limitations or exceptions.
  • It is not defined what constitutes a “serious crime” is exactly, so may be accessed on the purposes for which the stock data.
  • There are no regulations on who is allowed to the circumstances under which access to the stored data and how these data may be used at all.
  • A judge title to access the data is missing.
  • For the prescribed retention period of six to 24 months, there were no clear criteria.
  • It lacks provisions for the safe storage of data from providers and their irreversible deletion after the end of the storage period.
  • Because the data need not be stored in the EU, a supervision and control by an independent authority had not ensured.

Obviously, some national governments (including Germany) are now going into the but-we-need-this-stuff-to-fight-terrorism mode, and lengthy discussions will continue. But, at least for Germany, the Federal Constitutional Court has dismissed German regulations already in 2010, so they seem to be on the same page as the EU Court of Justice in this matter. There is still hope for reason in this world.

HTRK – Psychic 9-5 Club

March 28th, 2014 by Henry

Coming very soon: One of the most wonderfully moody albums of the year. I have only discovered HTRK rather recently, but I’ve already fallen in love with their sound and style. The voice is maybe not exactly ground breaking, but it all comes together so well in their production – the reduced, but very lively beats, the echoes on synths and vocals, and the – well – organic production. All wrapped around some beautiful songs that, admittedly, don’t jump into your face at first listen.

Enjoy it on SoundCloud below, and purchase it from 1 April directly from the label.

Jon Hopkins – Collider.

March 25th, 2014 by Henry

Yes, there is a lot great new music out there already this year. But here is one song I would like to share with you, because it is from one of my top three favourite albums last year – and because it is so amazingly perfect in its balance of driving dance beat, monotony, harmony and mood swings between deeply melancholic and uplifting and euphoric. Listen to it on a good stereo or headphones – and turn it up!

At home with Little Dragon.

February 21st, 2014 by Henry

There is so much great new music already so early in the year, that I almost can’t follow up… Alright, here is the first treat for you – a band that I didn’t follow in the past, because they didn’t really catch me with their sound. But this one is great – so much drive, fun and energy.

Check out a behind-the-scenes feature from Yours Truly

Then, check out the weird video for their new single “Klapp Klapp”…

Or, love them on Soundcloud…

And finally, check out their website to learn more about their upcoming album Nabuma Rubberband (whatta title!)

Jon Hopkins – Live on KEXP.

February 3rd, 2014 by Henry

Here is a – well – live performance of the man, who released one of my top three albums of the year in 2013: Immunity. In the studio, he uses a lot of different gear, blurring the line between analog and digital. He happily employs an old piano as much as foley sounds that turn into beats, synthesizers producing both warm and crisp sounds… Well, see him perform a set live on KEXP radio here:

If you feel intrigued, check out some of his videos on his website. Plus, he also played a set for KCRW, which is much longer and contains a few more songs – including some piano play, too.