How I can celebrate 10.000+ followers (thank you!) better than writing a review about the new album of the band that made me start writing about music? I can’t think about a better way, so here comes a few thoughts about the second album from The Candle Thieves. It’s called “Balloons” and produced and mixed by Andy Hawkins. The album is going to be released soon (this time in Germany, Austria and Switzerland by Stargazer Records as well!) but as I am one of those pledge people I already have it here. “Ballons” is the second album of this 2-piece band from Peterborough, UK. The two brains behind this band are Scott McEwan and The Glock. They make Pop music - in the best possible way, not the plastic kind of music. The lyrics are always touching, sometimes utterly sad hidden behind a happy façade, sometimes completely sad and sometimes uplifting and a reminder of what is important, of love and always heartfelt. “A guilty pleasure for deep thinkers” is still a valid and quite possible one of the best descriptions for these two.
I have listened to this album back and forth, up and down, and as just love it as much as their first album “Sunshine And Other Misfortunes”. There was a time when I was a bit worried that it is impossible to write another album that is as touching as the first one and which is equally inspirational. It’s so good to know I was wrong to worry about that. “Balloons” goes straight for your heart.
My first favourite song was “The Weatherman” - the melody and everything. I think it’s about the downs of a relationship and that the stormiest times can go away again…hopefully. Well, and it just happens, like the weather, and not always there is someone to blame.
“The Rock & The Bug” makes me very sad in a way - it leaves me with such a helpless feeling. On the first listen, it wasn’t like that. It took me a few listens to get the lyrics - it’s good to have the protection, like a bug hiding under a rock, but at the same time, you just can’t move. You are limited in what you do. I know Scott is quite active when it comes to animal rights and has also released a compilation for this reason (called “Animals”). I guess the song is a testament to that feeling when you’re limited in your actions while wanting to change the whole world. To me the song captures this helpless felling so very good. I think “Light And Smoke” comes from the same source of inspiration. I think it’s a song written from the view of an animal, saved unlike his rescuer (not completely sure about it).
I also love “The Way The World Spins”. It seems like a homage to one of their big influences Mark Oliver Everett/The Eels. For me it seems like it because of the singing birds, the melody and even in the way the song is written and what it is about. But it is not just simple copy, it’s more taking what Everett does into the world of the Candle Thieves. And yes, it’s just exactly the way they say it: “You need love, when you wake yourself from a bad dream…” Kind of cheesy but true. I have thought that after waking up from nightmares in the middle of the night when being on my own.
“Balloons #3” is very serious… as well… there are 3 parts that form the song and there are three Balloon songs. “Balloon #1” is the first song of the album (without any words), “”Balloon #2” is on the “Happiness Blues EP” (2010) and is sort of about wanting to be different and the last part is about a few topics but basically about equality, about not being bullied at school for being different and about the hate against people of a different nationality but being born in “your” country. It’s very true and that is what makes the song so very sad.
On a more uplifting side (melody wise) is “Flowers For Peggy” and “We Won’t Ever Be Rich (But We Could Be Happy)”. The latter one seems like a part 2 of “We’re all Gonna Die (Have Fun)” and an outlook to what follows on the album (an allusion to “Ten Ton Digger” - that made me smile). It’s song number 3 from 11 - I am not following the order of the songs on the album.
It amazes and scares me every time how good The Candle Thieves are in writing down what is going on in my head and heart. It’s like I am an open book which they just happen to read and then wrote it down for everyone else to read (like in “Earthquakes” - another song, the thoughts in it and I like the “Australian” start). I mean there are of course parts or lines I can’t relate to but the in general it’s that way. That was exactly what made me fall on love with their first album and now it is still like that. However, I think they grew as well. In their music and the topics they write about. It seems they are more looking for what is happening around them this time. Basically I just wanted to say in a lot of words that I love this album!
If you want to see them live (and you want it, trust me), they are on tour with Darren Hayes in September:
21., The Sage, Newcastle
22., ABC, Glasgow
24., Indigo, o2 London
25., Symphony Hall, Birmingham
27., Vicar St, Dublin
28., Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
29., The Dome, Brighton
Thanks for reading,
P.S. I am still amazed that 10.000+ people are following me! Thank you for following me and thank you, tumblr, so much!
Kevin Devines newest album “Between The Concrete & Clouds” was released by Big Scary Monsters (UK) some time last year and it took me a bit to finally buy it (despite the fact that I know how good Devine is). I don’t know why since his last album “Brother’s Blood” had been one of my favourites for quite some time.
Devine doesn’t make music I can listen to while I do other things that need my concentration. My attention is always drawn to his music and even while I write about it I can’t listen to it. That’s good and bad. How can that be bad you might ask? It’s because I have to have my mind clear and that just doesn’t happen to often. The songs sound like Pop but there is more to them and that results in some catchy melodies. Almost ready to be hummed in the car if there weren’t his lyrics. I can’t help myself but always trying to figure out everything behind the words he sings. He is one the artists where I can’t just enjoy the song as a whole but also feel the need of understanding the words* and it’s still sort of difficult for me to wrap my head around his music. So, I actually just want to say I love his music because it amazing and I absolutely think you should give him a listen if you haven’t heard of him yet.
He is on tour with his Goddamn Band in Europe, UK and US and I am excited to see him (and the band) in Berlin - the last time I saw him had been awesome:
12. Jubez, Karlsruhe
13. Kulturhaus III &70, Hamburg
14. Beatpol, Dresden
15. MUZ, Nürnberg
16. Cafe Kafic (Black Box), Leipzig
17. Magnet, Berlin
18. Atomic Cafe, München
19. B72, Vienna
21. The Cricketers, Kingston
23. Night & Day, Manchester
24. Joiners, Southhampton
25. Thekla, Bristol
26. The Jericho Tavern, Oxford (I have heard he will be supported by Gunning For Tamar on this gig - what more do you need? Two very, very good live bands on one evening should be reason enough to go.)
27. The Borderline, London
28. Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
29. King Tut’s, Glasgow
You might just want to have a look on his page for further tour dates in the US:
Have a good Sunday,
*(You can find the lyrics on his website.)
I have seen I am Oak twice last year. Both concerts have been on the same day and nevertheless been quite different. The first one was acoustic and only two people on stage, the second one was a full band concert. And I am super excited to see them next weekend again. The creative mind behind this Utrecht-based band is Thijs Kuijken. “Skulk” is their newest release - probably to shorten the waiting time for their next record. It’s a limited 7” vinyl or download release. Actually the last album was released by Snowstar Records in May 2011 - so it’s not that long ago really.
As I am currently in a calmer music phase, this is well perfect. I really like Thijs voice - it kind of smoothing. On this EP it’s quite dominating the songs. It almost seems the instruments are fading into the background when he sings. The songs and everything seem so stripped down and simple on a brief first listen but the more I heard them the more they opened up to me. They are wonderfully relaxing, and sometimes they seem a bit weary. I don’t mean that in a bad way. It transfers onto the listener and results in relaxation and not tiredness.
I love the melodies and the instruments they used - the sound of it even though I am not sure what exactly they used. And I am not exactly sure what they sing about. But the overall package you get to hear is beautiful. It wraps your ears and heart in a warm fuzzy duvet like nothing I have heard in the last couple of weeks.
And they are on tour in the next couple of weeks and I can just recommend you to go:
27.1. Kattendans, Bergeijk, NL
28.1. Molotow, Hamburg
29.1. HBC., Berlin
30.1. Thalia Cinema, Dresden
31.1. MUK, Giessen
1.2. Zentrum Altenberg, Oberhausen
2.2. Zum Teufel, Mannheim
3.2. Cafe Nun, Karlsruhe
4.2. Zwölfzehn, Stuttgard
5.2. AZ, Aachen
21.2. Tuchlaube, Aarau
22.2. Diagonal Club, Forli
23.2. La Claque - Teatro la Tosse, Genova
24.2. Spazio Mew, Vitorrio Veneto
25.2. Mela di Newton, Padova
26.2. Unplugged in Monti, Roma
1.3. Livingroom, Lyon
12.3. SXSW, Austin, TX, USA
12.3. Canadian Music Week, Toronto, Canada
A photo from last year (The Great Escape presents…, Popkomm, Berlin):
Have a good Sunday everyone,
A couple of years ago I saw Henry Rollins live. In Berlin. In a church. Quite possibly one of the oddest places to see him. I went there not really knowing what to expect as I mostly knew his music - Black Flag, Rollins Band… the video to “Liar” is one of the few video from the 90’s I actually remember and I have watched a lot of MTV back then. But it was that Spoken Word performance that brought him completely back to my attention. That evening in 2008. He will give you food for thought and can make you laugh to tears at the same time. Sometimes it’s another point of view of something and sometimes I end up questioning my own opinion. And that is what I like about him and about his Spoken Word performance. It’s not mindless shit.
I had the great opportunity to do an interview with Henry Rollins. It is my first (and last*) interview via e-mail. I hope you enjoy it.
Dörte: Have you had the thought that because of your strong opinion people could just take over your opinion without making their own, without getting their own information and making up their own mind about a topic?
Henry Rollins: That can certainly happen. Perhaps it does. If that’s the case, even if it’s just one person, that’s a shame. There are some people I read or listen to and I agree with them sometimes or at least trust their judgement but always, when I really drill down into any subject, I always come away with my own opinion that is more “me” than anything I can get from anyone else, even if I agree with them. It takes time but it’s always worth it. What’s the fun of having a brain if someone else is going to do the thinking for you?
Is taking what seems like every opportunity to do something you probably haven’t done before or probably never thought doing something everyone should do more to broaden their horizons?
I can’t say that any one thing is good for all people. I do know that for myself, whenever I have pushed myself into unfamiliar territory, intellectual, physical, geographic—it’s always been good for me. I also think that more perspective is a good thing. I don’t know how else to get it other than to do things that are not easy.
During your spoken word performances you sometimes have this actually rather serious topics like areas of crises, wars and people laugh about the way you tell it - is that sometimes odd? Or is it OK if people end up thinking about the topic itself?
I think humor allows some insight into something that may be too intense to register fully otherwise. I would never want to lessen the impact of a situation or be disrespectful towards people in tough situations but sometimes, there is some humor to be found. The one thing I would never do is put it where there isn’t any. Hopefully, I render these topics in such a way as to create interest in them in the people who come to the show.
Would have thought that you do the spoken word for such a long time and tour with it through countries like Germany where they don’t speak English as a native language when you started?
I had been through Germany a few times before I started doing talking shows there and knew very well that many people there have very good English capability. I am surprised at how well my shows do in Germany. I am not surprised at the level of people’s English, however, I am surprised that people like what I do. It sounds lame but I really like Germany. I am sure it has its problems, no country really escapes that I know but I have had so many great times there, it is a part of the tour I honestly look forward to.
Why have you been surprised that people in Germany (that’s how I understood it) like what you do?
No more surprised than I am that I have an audience anywhere. I am, however, very grateful for the huge hospitality I have enjoyed in Germany.
How do you know your program will work? Do you test them before the first time you perform them (not completely but the main parts)?
It’s very simple. If I am moved by the material and the sentiment I am trying to get across, I figure so will others. I trust that and go from there. It’s a gut/honesty thing. That being said, I will go through ideas out loud, talking to myself. I do this on long walks. I imagine people think I am a bit strange. I also run things by my assisstant and see what she thinks of the ideas.
I have read a few weeks ago that you are done with making music as it takes a lot of time and it’s always the same procedure - isn’t it the same with spoken word performances and writing books? Or is it different because it is a bit faster to do and especially the spoken word you can be more spontaneous?
That’s a good question. If I have been doing the writing and talking almost as long as the music, then why not drop the other two? Okay, here’s why: Now, more than ever, the writing and the talking shows correspond more closely to my life. I go all over the world. I can go to the stage and report back to the audience, I can write about what happened, take photos, etc. I can respond what is happening and take it almost immediately to my audience and put it across. It allows me to move very fast and in the moment. Also, I like working and performing alone. I never really enjoyed being a member of a band. I always felt on my own with a bunch other people in the same room. It was good and I feel no need to do it any more. I miss the music sometimes but in my gut, it feels like it’s behind me and I have to obey that.
Do you think it is easier to be in a band nowadays with all the things which are available (like recording software, internet and not the need of having a physical release)? Would you have liked to have this when you started out making music? Or not because especially with things like blogs and twitter it sometimes seem that the focus is moved away from the music towards the persons behind it?
I think that there are some tools created by modern technology that allows one to record without having to go into the studio and have a lot of money to put towards that and that’s a good thing. As well, this new technology may have facilitated a lot of music. I don’t think any of it necessarily allows the making of good music to be an easier task. Things that are good are never easy, that’s just how reality shakes out. Since bands are made up of people, I don’t think technology will make it easier to get along with the bass player, who has been in my experience, now and then, to be a major pain in the ass.
Would you (or have you) ever considered moving away from America? I know quite a few artists here in Berlin, Germany (that is where I am born and still live), who moved here because of the situation (like health insurance) in the USA. Or is it in a way better to stay and try to change things, address these things in public, so the bigger awareness?
I have never given that any serious thought. I have problems with America, that’s not uncommon. I really like it here though. I think that as time goes on and as economies collapse, to a certain degree, many countries will be very similar as their problems become more similar. One thing I have going for me in America is knowing that I am on my own. I have no illusions. I have no faith that there will be any social security for me when I am old. I never thought that would be the case. At least I know what the deal is here.
Wouldn’t it be nice when people would learn from history? I am thinking about fracking - another drastic intervention into nature -, working conditions for people in some countries (compared to early industrialization age in Europe as an example) or the hate towards one religion among other things which all had happened but yet seemed to be forgotten already.
What makes you think that they are not learning? Could it be that they use history as a manual for how to constuct the future? History repeats itself because human nature has only a few colors on the pallette. For history to be learned from in a good way, you would have to eliminate greed, ambition and hormones. Religions will always clash because someone’s god has to be better than the other guy’s. Bad working conditions are great if you’re the one with stock in that company who is making a great return on your investment. You think that guy is going to let that slip? He will have to have it ripped from his grasp. That very well may happen. If you check history, it has.
As you also take photos and I also read once in an interview you have art at your home (and therefore it seems to me that how something appears might be important to you) I was wondering how important the artwork is? And also that it displays the major theme of the current tour is for you. The last couple ones have been designed by Shepard Fairey, why do you work with him?
I have a lot of paintings at the house, a lot of rare music posters as well. I like having all that around me. It has no real effect on what I say onstage, it’s just an interest of mine. Shepard and I have been friends for a long time and I like his work and really like having him do the posters for the tours.
In the last question I meant it the other way round – Does what you say have an effect on the posters?
I give him the concept or most of the time, a photo of what to work off of, so it’s always a collaborative effort.
Is Shepard one of the people with whom you would test your program? And in addition: What do you like about his art?
I don’t see him all that often. I see him a few times a year, usually at an event or at his studio. I like his art because it is high contrast, subversive, aggressive and very smart.
That you own rare concert posters is not really a surprise. But what kind of paintings do you collect? Is it art made by friends? A certain style? Or things you have picked up on your trips around the world?
I have paintings by some musicians and some not well known artists whose work I support. Just stuff that some might find strange that I happen to like. I have a lot of work by John Olson of Wolf Eyes for instance.
Thank you for taking the time, Henry.
Tourdates for Europe and UK (but there are also dates in America and Australia - just look here):
12.1. Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, UK
13.1. Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, UK
14.1. Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline, UK
15.1. Tyna Theatre, New Castle, UK
16.1. Memorial Hall, Sheffield, UK
17.1. St. George’s, Bristol, UK
18.1. Academy, Oxford, UK
19.1. Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton, UK
20.1. Royal Festival Hall, London, UK
21.1. De La Warr Pavillion, Bexhill, UK
22.1. Vicar Street, Dublin, Ireland
29.1. Garage, Saarbrücken, Germany
30.1. Gloria, Cologne, Germany
31.1. Huxley’s, Berlin, Germany
1.2. Fabrik, Hamburg, Germany
3.2. Bremen, Copenhagen, Denmark
5.2. Tradgarn, Gothenburg, Sweden
6.2. Palladium, Malmö, Sweden
7.2. Rival, Stockholm, Sweden
10.2. Posthof Linz (Großer Saal), Linz, Austria
11.2. Konzerthaus (Mozartsaal), Linz, Austria
12.2. Muffathalle, Munich, Germany
13.2. Alte Feuerwache, Mannheim, Germany
15.2. Alcatraz, Milan, Italy
16.2. Estragon, Bologna, Italy
Thank you for reading,
*I can’t imagine anyone else I want to interview where I would bend my own rules that much.
A couple of month ago I saw Mars Red Sky live at one of those Clusterfuck events I have told you so often about and I had the pleasure to talk to them, too. They are releasing their LP on the 12th November (limited to 500 only, go here) and therefore it’s time to introduce this band properly to you, my dearest reader.
Mars Red Sky are Julien Pras, Jimmy Kinast and Benoit Busser. They are from France. As always the country the music was made in doesn’t say a thing about how the music actually sounds. The sound seems be transported right into our time from the heart of the Stoner Rock desert, from the psychedelic 70’s. I was rather fascinated and surprised* when they told me they didn’t knew about this whole scene and it’s connection to the desert. Drummer Benoit said:“We learned that after the recording. We (were a little) deciption to know that a lot of bands did that before. We know that some bands recorded in a desert but we didn’t know it was this kind of music”. Julien added “We didn’t know it was so linked to the desert imaginary. There are a bunch of bands considered as the stoner pioneers that we didn’t know very well but we knew the names”.
How did they started? “When we were younger we grew up listening to rock bands. I would have listened to Metallica […] and then Nirvana and Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin and then first I played different kind of music for many years - pretty soft pop music - coming back to using heavy guitars and distortion is pretty exciting. And Jimmy and I know each other for like 15 years. We have some things in common like how we do stuff. We would listen to this kind of music like Death Metal which is not an obvious part of this band. And then we met Benoit 4 years ago and we both saw him playing drums. We had the same reaction like “We should start a band” because he is playing very cool. And then it would be this kind of music.” At first it was just Benoit and Julien who played together, without bass player Jimmy they started to jam together. And that is also the reason why Julien tuned his guitar as low as he did: there was no bass. Jimmy however joined them very quickly and instead of tuning the guitar back, they tuned his bass just as low and created the sound that they now have. “We didn’t create anything very new but to us it was new.”, admitted Julien after he told the story how they started. For me personally this works well – not everyone can or has to reinvent the wheel. As long as it is a good and working wheel, it’s fine with me.
What I like about their sound is how it makes you drift away – it’s sort of spherical and wide. It reminds me of how I felt in when I was in a desert** – you’ll get this feeling of freedom and it also feels like there is magic in the air. Mars Red Sky recreate this feeling I had every time I have been there. They recorded the album in the Bardenas desert in Spain and that reflects in their music, I guess. And that’s why I love this band.
Julien sings with the music not against it. That makes a very organic sound overall. The other thing that seems to be important is a certain slowness – so slow Drummer Benoit almost can’t work with it any more. And what about being technical while writing or playing? “We are not very technical. That’s not what we are after. Usually we just jam and sometimes we come up with songs that are almost finished but we just jam. And we like very simple lyrics. First we try to find a groove or more than…We play pretty slow. The whole idea is get into a groove…”. Since I get fully soaked in by their sound when I listen, I barely manage to keep my focus on the lyrics. The songs consist of guitar, bass, drums and not that many words. “They are important. They are in the booklet. If they didn’t make any sense they wouldn’t have to be in the booklet. It’s more the images and the feeling that is interesting.”
Besides their music they have the artwork and the videos to fulfil the 70’s imaginary. About the artwork of the album Julien said:”We wanted something that looked a little bit like a poster. We felt it should look like an old cinema poster or an old concert poster. It’s more like old 70’s rock concert poster.” Whenever I saw it seemed to be made for a vinyl cover, really. Of course it also represents their band name Mars Red Sky. Mars – the ultimate desert. For the videos Jimmy went to archive.org which is home for a lot of older things. He used this military and commercial videos from the 40’s to 70’s to create something new for their music. And even though the video to “Mable Sky” is over 1 years old, it just fits the pulse of this time, doesn’t it?
Mars Red Sky are on tour soon (tomorrow) and if you are anywhere near on of these cities, you should go and see them playing.
09.11. (FR) RENNES - L’Ubu
12.11. (FR) BORDEAUX - LeSaintEx LP-Vinyl ReleaseParty!!
16.11. (FR) MULHOUSE - Les Copains D’Abord
17.11. (D) FREIBERG - Deep Hole [lim.tickets - reservation mrminik(at)ymail.com]
18.11. (PL) POZNAN - Reset
19.11. (PL) WARSAW - Chwila Da Klub
20.11. (PL) LUBLIN - Tektura
21.11. (UA) KIEV - Guitar Bar
22.11. (UA) TBA
23.11. (UA) KALUSH - Velzha
24.11. (HU) BUDAPEST - Roham
25.11. (CZ) PRAHA - GreenDoors Café Na půli cesty [FREE gig! only space for 60 people, get in contact for reservations mrminik(at)ymail.com ]
26.11. (D) SCHWANDORF - Grafenbeck [ only space for 60 people, get in contact for reservations mrminik(at)ymail.com ]
27.11. (FR) PARIS - La Maroquinerie
30.11.11 (ES) MADRID - Wurlitzer Ballroom
01.12.11 (ES) ZARAGOZA - Arrebato
Thank you for reading,
*mind that I am a huge Queens of the Stone Age fan and Eagles of Death Metal and when I learned more about these bands I learned about “the desert” where all this started. “The desert” is the beautiful area around Palm Springs/Joshua National Park.
** again we are talking about California and not the Sahara.
Wakey! Wakey! is one of those bands which made their way to me because of a passionate music fan and friend of mine – he did talk so much about them that I simply had to listen (Oh, let’s be honest, I love good recommendations by friends and strangers). And he is absolutely right – they are making fantastic Pop music but that is actually said way too simple from me. It is not only Pop they are making, it’s heartfelt lyrics mixed with rich melodies. At no point the songs seem to be just a simple thing, for me every single song is more like a theatre piece and they differ quite a bit. It’s a bit lazy to say it is Pop to be honest.
It took me a listen or two but now I love the album ”Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said The Last Time I Saw You”. I think the title sums up the theme of the whole album quite well. The band is the project of Mike Grubbs or he is the frontman – I am absolutely not sure in how much the songs are a group effort or “just” made by Grubbs. He is from New York and signed to Family Records – another very good label from New York. Apparently I have some kind of theme going on this last couple of days that I have just noticed! It will be a small part in my next article, too. Oh, I love New York!
My favourite song of this album is “Light Outside”- I like the uplifting melody that underlines the lyrics about taking care of the people who took care of you when you were down. “Take It Like A Man” seems, especially in the beginning, like a silent film - ridiculous piano and violin which sounds like someone pressed the forward button and then it turns into a pop song but just to be interrupted but the same ridiculous musical parts like there were in the beginning. It the softens just to develop into this huge sound. And the end? It’s just like the beginning.
“Square Peg And Round Hole” is a dance a long song – it is so much fun that I actually find myself doing the little dance moves and smiling (just to remember where I am and hope that either no one noticed or they will just smile with me). Funnily enough the next song is called “Dance So Good” but is a lot quieter. He sings “Sometimes I wonder why you can stay so sad when you are so beautiful” and I wonder how these things are connected but I actually think I am just missing the point. My focus is never long enough on the words he sings – it is carried away with the notes he plays. The song makes me sad somehow.
He has also some electronic bits in this album. “Get It All Wrong” has this bits underlining the song but only add some stings later. I like this almost a bit contrasting parts which perfectly reflect the message of it, too. The first song of the Album “Almost Everything” comes with some sort of bang. From the piano right into the whole yet fine structured power of all sorts of instrument. Grubbs story told in a few seconds? It seems almost like it. There are 10 songs on the album – I’ll leave the rest of them for you to discover.
Wakey!Wakey! is on tour now, too. They are touring through Europe (and they also toured around the UK but I am a little late, so it’s just Europe) – from what I have heard Grubbs is a very funny man as well. Good music and a good laugh in between are the best combinations for concerts:
26.10., Die Werkstatt, Köln, Germany
27.10., Knust, Hamburg, Germany
29.10., Privat Club, Berlin, Germany
30.10., Lil Vega, Copenhagen, Germany
01.11., Debaser Slussen, Stockholm, Sweden
04.11., Eureka, Zwolle, Netherlands
05.11., Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands,
06.11., VK, Brussels, Belgium
And last but not least, a video to my favourite song:
Thank you for reading,