Die Goldenen Zitronen - Photo: Frank Egel

Die Goldenen Zitronen – Photo: Frank Egel

Sometimes it can be difficult to speak and write enthusiastically about German music. Taken into consideration the country’s sheer size and its cultural and literary traditions, it’s hopefully no offense to state that the pop music scene around here is a little underdeveloped. Not meaning of course that there aren’t any good bands out there – as you know, we regularly try to spot the most exciting German speaking acts here on NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION. So, as it is often the case: You simply have to take a closer look.

In fact, when it comes to name bands that have been both musically and intellectually influential for over 30 years without ever going down the easy way, you’d have to look hard in almost every country. In Germany though, there are DIE GOLDENEN ZITRONEN (The Golden Lemons) – a Hamburg based art and music collective, founded in 1984 and proving to be still relevant today with every output. Now, as they reworked some of their songs into English versions on their new album Flogging A Dead Frog – now is a good time to furthermore think about wether this bunch of oddballs can be referred to as typically German or if that thing has actually never been true as their opinions have always been strong enough to work beyond language.

“Take Dada seriously, it’s worth it!”

– George Grosz

A certain bulkiness is apparent in Schorsch Kamerun and Ted Gaier’s project. As the last two remaining founding members of DIE GOLDENEN ZITRONEN, Kamerun and Gaier implement their work at theaters, as authors, actors and musicians, into the output of their main band. Theater can be a crucial part for an explicitly political band like DIE ZITRONEN are. From Brecht to Weill, theater has been both source of and force behind fundamental changes in society and music is strongly connected with its impact. Without any doubt, that’s what DIE GOLDENEN ZITRONEN are about as well.

Back in 2006, on the album Lenin, DIE GOLDENEN ZITRONEN released a track called Wenn ich ein Turnschuh wär – a trenchant commentary on Western societies’ double standards towards the rest of the world; namely our way of flagging marginalized parts of the world’s population as being good enough to produce our sneakers in countries with low wages and horrible working environments but not good enough to come knocking on our door in search for a better life. Culminating in the cynical conclusion that it’d be better for refugees to be a sneaker. The song, now released in its English version If I Were A Sneaker, couldn’t be more relevant these days.

It’s just one example but it marks the red line that runs throughout the work of DIE GOLDENEN ZITRONEN – a red line that’s based on attitude, not style. In order to make at least a little bit of sense out of this – at times – painfully senselessness called Germany, you’d have to deal with DIE GOLDENEN ZITRONEN first. It’s not a coincidence that they started out as a fun punk project – humour’s got the potential of transferring meaning into memorable punchlines. By mixing that notion up with a strong moral responsibility and opinion, as well as a sense for general ambiguity, DIE GOLDENEN ZITRONEN stand as much in the tradition of socio-critical Dadaism as they share the unpredictable ways of Punk.

[one_half last=”no”]

NBHAP Rating: 3,8/5


[one_half last=”yes”]DIE GOLDENEN ZITRONEN
Flogging A Dead Frog

Release-Date: 18.09.2015
Label: Altin Village & Mine

01. Fan Without Fan
02. If I Were A Sneaker
03. LaToya Speech
04. Der Flötist An Den Toren Der Dämmerung
05. Cause I‘m Freezing
06. The Investor
07. Crashing Stockmarkets
08. The Mayor Of Emerald City
09. Businesspeople 2.1
10. This I’m Not Telling You




Being a band that’s in the fourth decade of its existence, there is no way to pin down DIE GOLDENEN ZITRONEN stylistically anymore. Not if you keep in mind what kind of characters are expressing themselves here. They’ve been punk, they’ve been declared as being the avantgarde of the infamous Hamburger Schule while simultaneously acting more than reluctant to that tag; they’ve exercised in Hip Hop and electronic experiments, they’ve done pop (kind of) and now? Well, these days, especially with their new album out, it’s fair to say that the internationalization on the content side comes with an aptly chosen musical counterpart: Krautrock. Probably the one genre widely associated with Germany but open minded enough to let the band find its own ways within it.

DIE GOLDENEN ZITRONEN are in a strange situation these days. Not artsy enough to have nothing to do with the present world; nor are they likeable enough to be widely understood. It takes effort to deal with them and it’s probably a hard thing to be fan of everything they ever did.

Yes, their messages might not always be that clear – and that counts for both English speaking and German native audiences. But if these guys are in for a direct statement on issues, you’ll barely find a clearer voice. And the message that it formulates is a universal one.