One tune that really excited me
It’s a pretty relieving thing when you wait ten years for the return of a band and that comeback doesn’t disappoint, at least judging from Carousels, the first new single by Mancunian three-piece Doves in a decade. The trio played a crucial part in my musical socialization during the first half of my twenties. I immeditately fell in love with their third full-length Some Cities in 2005 and I remember quickly discovering the rest of their discography shortly after that. It was a wild summer, I can tell you. What I discovered were brilliant and powerful anthems, somewhere placed between psychedelic sounds, epic Britrock melodies and this trippy Manchester feeling that always made the bands from this city so special to me. For me personally, Doves are on the same level like Elbow, The Smiths and probably even Oasis. Unfortunately they’ve never gotten that popular outside their home country but maybe that’s a plus after all. They are a hidden treausre in British pop history and if you like what you are hearing on Carousels (which is as Doves as possible) I kindly invite you to discover their first four albums this summer (since it’s the perfect season to do that) before the long awaited fifth full-length arrives later this year. This really feels like a homecoming to me because eleven years between two albums is a length I haven’t experienced in real time so far for one of my favourite groups. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? Well, and although I liked the band member’s solo adventures in 2014 and 2015 I’m so happy about their return as a unit. They are the only one of my favourite bands that I haven’t experienced live yet (well, out of those who are still active) so I’m really excited for 2021, hoping that the next year will essentially be better than whatever the heck 2020 is, right? Welcome back, lads… I missed you a lot.
One wonderful (re)discovery
As the temperatures are slowly reaching tropical level over here there’s barely any better soundtrack to turn to than the music of Southern Shores. Canadian producers Jamie Townsend and Ben Dalton have been a constant source for sun-drenched, sonic summer vibes for a decade now and in the wake of their freshly released new EP Siena (Part I) I found myself returning to their small but wonderful back catalogue after a break of a few years. That includes 2011’s debut EP Atlantic as well as the two short albums New World (2012) and Loja (2016). Some critics falsly placed the duo from Toronto in the short-lived chillwave movement back then but I always thought that doesn’t honour their sound at all. What I always loved about the music of Southern Shores is the warmth feeling of nostalgia it delivers, combined with its organic approach. Guitars, flutes and percussion exist right next to the electronic beats that recall Balearic 80s pop as well as acid house moments although it’s more of a laidback sunset vibe these two are delivering here instead of a huge rave party. They also work with vocal and sound samples, similar to what The Avalanches do or what the also critically underrated Air France from Sweden did before they split up way too soon around 2012. There’s this great sensitivy for pop history in their music, something that really speaks to me as a lover of pop music. Sometimes it bothers me that they release new music so rarely but when they do it’s always of high quality and really feels like they put a lot of effort and passion into the sound. You are happily invited to discover these summerly little pop gems as well.
One thing that really annoyed me
No musical complainment here (I mean, how can you complain about the magnificent Anderson .Paak, right?) but obviously the past four weeks saw the racist problems in the United States surface on a whole new level, also on a global state. In the wake of the murder of George Floyd it really feels like this necessary and overdue discussion is finally here to stay on our agenda. It has to be because enough is enough. It’s been enough for many years and although the USA was already wrecked before Donald Trump came to power, he surely managed to worsen things to an unimaginable degree. From stupidity to ignorance to hostility in only a few years – the next few months will be defining ones for this troubled country. It will be an ugly and devastating experience but apparently it’s necessary before the people of American and its society can heal. However, as a German I don’t have a say in this. What I can do is question my own behaviour, think about my personal privileges and be a better person. Over the last weeks I learned that it might be best to simply shut up, let the affected people speak up and in the meantime educate yourself about what you as a white person can do to make a difference and to help people of colour. “Letting them talk while shutting up” is actually quite an easy and efficient thing to do here. I fully support their frustration and while there might be better fighting anthems on the new Run The Jewels album or song’s like YG‘s FTP capture the riots of the past weeks a bit better the wonderful Lockdown by Anderson .Paak is a truly mesmerizing and gentle way to document this historic period. It’s a soulful and more laidback approach towards the frustration of the black community; a reflective protest song and therefor a good way to cope with all the anger.
One thing that really surprised me
You never know what you got until it’s gone. I surely hope that goes for many people these days. In my case it means yearning for club culture way more than I did before the world went into lockdown. I was never the most excessive party person that needed to go dancing every weekend but I enjoyed it occasionally, especially during the summer in an open air setting. Obviously this is kind of hard to get this season and somehow over the past weeks and months I reconnected with electronic dance music on a level I haven’t in a while. I rediscovered stuff I haven’t heard in ages, I dug through new releases, started a new mixtape series called Imaginary Rave Tapes and even found myself actually producing original music of my own, something I haven’t done in a long time. Maybe the excessive supply of party options in the restless hotspot called Berlin needed to dry out first before I could worship it once again. Maybe the whole aspect of downsizing the list of possibilities isn’t the worst thing to happen as well. After coming to rest for a while my body and soul are now feeling an increased desire to move again and although I don’t know when it will actually happen I remain hopeful that the time will come. In the wake of this realization British house music duo Disclosure announced a new album ENERGY for a release this August and I totally dig its pumping title-track. I actuall liked Disclosure‘s early stuff and their debut album but lost track of them when the second album arrived, maybe because they’ve gotten too big. Their recent releases feel like a return to their roots and the very essence of house music. “Where your focus goes, your energy flows” … hell, yes, I’m feeling this!
Just a random thought
Speaking of dance music. Out of reasons I can’t specifically recall I found myself revisiting the sound of my childhood and especially the late 90s/ early 00s dance and trance music I enjoyed a lot before I became the cool indie kid you might know today. Well, apparently I realized that you can’t run away from your musical influences, especially the ones that had a huge impact on you in those important formative years of your childhood and adolescence. So, yeah, from a today’s point of view many of those cheesy and pumping tunes feel outdated… or maybe they are now cool again? You tell me. But obviously it’s impossible to be objective here and what you consider to be a stupid piece of shallow trance pop means a lot to me and is often also connected to an important part of my biography. So, since I got the time and I was already in the mood of collecting many of these musical treasures I decided to produce a way too long (two and half hours!) mixtape with many of these treasures, including the usual suspects and heavyweights of that era like Paul Van Dyk, ATB, Tiesto, Ferry Corsten, Chicane and many names that might not ring a bell if you weren’t into that sound back then, haha. So, anyway, as I get older I appreciate these influences even more, I made my peace with them and actually still like this sound a look. So, be proud of your musical roots, there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure anyway, right? Let this be the encouraging mesage I’d ike to spread at the end of this little recap.
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