The Notwist – Vertigo Days

The Notwist recently joined a select list of bands that continue to release compelling music thirty years after their inception. Like many members of this club the German outfit achieved this milestone by pursuing a steady diet of side projects, and by sidestepping the incessant tour/record/tour grind; Vertigo Days is only the band’s third studio… Continue reading The Notwist – Vertigo Days

Balloon

Around the world in 80 days? The Strelzyk and Wetzel families just need to stay aloft for 30 minutes to clear the Berlin Wall and reach the West! But with their every step, the secret police for the German DEMOCRATIC Republic, led by the watchful stare of a Stasi Lieutenant (Thomas Kretschmann), are closing in. From the… Continue reading Balloon

The Cakemaker

Nothing to do with the Supreme Court ruling… or does it? The icing on the cake is that traveling businessman Oren Nachmias (Roy Miller) makes time while in Berlin to visit master pastry chef Thomas (Tim Kalkhof), with whom he’s been having an affair. When he returns to Israel for his kid’s birthday, Thomas waits for his… Continue reading The Cakemaker

Black Lips, Khan Clan Unite for EP

A hidden gem on the largely boring list of Record Store Day cash-grabs teams local garage rock firebrands Black Lips with some of their most talented pals. Titled Black Lips & the Khan Family, collaborators include honorary Black Lip King Khan, his daughter Saba Lou (the young’un from an old Rob’s House and Die Slaughterhaus 7-inch grew up to become quite the singer)… Continue reading Black Lips, Khan Clan Unite for EP

Emperor X – Oversleepers International

Another month, another belated discovery. Chad Matheny has spent much of his life in Jacksonville and played Atlanta numerous times – the usual haunts as well as “some house, some other house, some other other house” he tells me by email. But it wasn’t until Matheny relocated to Berlin and released Oversleepers International – his… Continue reading Emperor X – Oversleepers International

Bowie Box Zooms in on ’77-’82

Parlophone Records’ third comprehensive, chronological David Bowie box set is due for release on September 29th, naturally with a few rare goodies for completists. Following the 12-CD/13-LP Five Years set (covering the years 1969-1973), and its follow-up, Who Can I Be Now?, which spotlighted 1974-1976 over the same number of CDs/LPs, the forthcoming A New… Continue reading Bowie Box Zooms in on ’77-’82

January Marches to a Down Beat

Can’s drummer Jaki Liebezeit (second from right in this band photo) died of pneumonia on January 22nd. Born just before World War II began in Dresden, Germany, Liebezeit spent the postwar years playing jazz, including with Manfred Schoof’s Quintet, helping pioneer European free jazz. He subsequently helped form Can in 1968. While Can blazed their… Continue reading January Marches to a Down Beat

The Notwist – Close to the Glass

The Notwist have a Fugazi problem. Like that storied DC postpunk band, Germany’s Notwist perfected a sound that soon became epochal at the hands of those who crashed the gates behind them, only to shift course in order to avoid repeating themselves and sounding like guests at the party they started. In the Notwist’s case… Continue reading The Notwist – Close to the Glass

King Khan & the Shrines – Idle No More

Boy, that’s what ya call truth-in-titling. It’s been six damn years since the last King Khan & the Shrines album, 2007’s What Is!?, and while in that time the titular King (that’s Arish Ahmad Khan to his mom) hasn’t been exactly dormant – the Montreal-born/Germany-residing garage rock icon has been seen collaborating with everyone from… Continue reading King Khan & the Shrines – Idle No More

Julia Wolfe & Ensemble Resonanz – Cruel Sister

Jagger attended the London School of Economics. Keith Richards could afford art school. So much for the street fightin’ man. During one of my perennial arguments about the Beatles’ negative impact on 20th century life far exceeding their musical influence, I pointed out that Johnny Ray has never been accused of causing any generational conflict,… Continue reading Julia Wolfe & Ensemble Resonanz – Cruel Sister

Kraftwerk – Minimum-Maximum

This is already one of my all-time favorite live albums, though I can’t readily explain why. Unlike the typical concert document, there’s no exaggerated posturing on the part of the musicians, no “We love you, St. Louis!!,” no extended solos, and neither flashpots nor fireworks exploding during the finale. There’s no finale at all, in… Continue reading Kraftwerk – Minimum-Maximum