One tune that really excited me

So, after over half a year of living in the age of Covid-19 there’s nothing wrong in seeing the good things about Corona and the cancelled concert season, right? I mean although a lot of it is bad the year forced musicians to get creative again and this week that resulted in the first new single from New Order since 2015. Trust me, that wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the lockdown. The band had a joint US tour with the Pet Shop Boys planned for this summer (aka ‘heaven for good ol’ Norman) which was delayed so instead they recorded new music. That has gotten rarer and rarer. Bandleader Bernard Sumner once famously said that he only got enough creativity left for one new album every ten years so yeah, we’re halfway there yet and Be A Rebel is a perfect pit stop if you are a die-hard fan of the band like me. That groove, that house piano, the synth, the melody – this takes the best from many aspects of New Order‘s music and turns it into a catchy pop gem that sounds like it didn’t make it onto the band’s 1993 record Republic. This is a band that doesn’t need to reinvent themselves as long as they are still recording and releasing new music. Apparently, this is just the beginning of a lovely celebration of forty years of New Order as the band already hinted on more new music to arrive over the next months.

One wonderful (re)discovery

For reasons I still don’t quite understand I found myself revisiting a lot of music from my childhood over the past months. I already told you about my cheesy trance mixtape before but now I also started exploring music from that era that I actually didn’t listen to when I was a kid. And when I talk about that time I mean the whole ‘early 90s dance era’ which really had an impact on me when I first actively started listening to popular music around 1993. During that time British synth band Opus III was quite active although I didn’t remember them at all. But now, thanks to the power of YouTube and nightly sessions at home I found myself falling for the magic spell of the group around singer Kirsty Hawkshaw and producers Kevin Dodds, Ian Munro and Nigel Walton. They released to albums (1992’s Mind Fruit and 1994’s Guru Mother) before they split up and I think their version of Edward Burton’s It’s A Fine Day was their only big hit during those days. The albums are pretty great, spreading a warm and grooving vibe, packed with an esotertic utopian spirit and maybe that’s why I feel so attracted by this music. It feels special and positive, compared to all the doom and gloom we are currently facing thirty years later. I really miss that honest (some might call it ‘naive’) positive spirit of these old days. We could really use a vibe like in the 1990s again (not actually the music) to lift our spirit and envision a brighter future and yeah, maybe Opus III will have the same effect on you.

One thing that really annoyed me

Jesus Christ, it’s 2020, so why are musical beefs still a thing considering the fact that we got way bigger problems. There’s a freakin climate catastrophe on the horizon, a still quite active pandemic, social injustice, racism, a US election that will be a defining one … that list goes on an on. And still like-minded people tend to fight each other instead of the bigger evil that treatens us all. I know it’s common sense in the hip hop game (although I find that ridiculous as well) but I don’t get why left-winged British indie rock bands should pick on each other. These days IDLES are facing a backclash (again) for reasons I still don’t get. Maybe because they were their heart on a sleeve (in quite a cheesy way)? Maybe because they are suddenly very successfu? So, first Sleaford Mods said something (I think), then The Quietus (which I usually admire) did a really bad review of their new Ultra Mono record (focussing more on a personal aversion than the actual music) and later Fat White Family once again started that old debate about their colleagues ‘not being working class’ enough. Guys, it’s getting boring and it’s such a selfish move. Because you know what? While you are busy talking shit about each other Breixt, Boris Johnson and his bad Corona politics are actually destroying whatever is left of the British working class. The country is burning, stop being children and join forces to fight for something that’s bigger than you, goddammit.

One thing that really surprised me

Speaking of the 1990s once again… this is a record and comeback I surely didn’t see coming. If you happen to be from my generation the 1993 single Would I Lie To You by soul-pop duo Charles & Eddie was an inevitable radio hit and easily one of the biggest one-hit-wonders of the decade. Almost three decades later 50% of that duo return (following the death of Charles Pettigrew in the early 00s) and this record by Eddie Chacon is a surprise on every level. It’s not an ‘old man’ album at all and it’s not even trying to revisit the sound of the artist’s previous releases. Intstead it sounds more like a gentle bedroom R&B pop album somebody in his early 20s would record these days. If you happen to love James Blake, Rhye and Frank Ocean than Pleasure, Joy And Happiness is your album. The sound of the record isn’t totally surprising because Eddie Chacon recorded it with John Carroll Kirby who’s pretty famous for his work with Frank Ocean and Solange. It’s a tender, reduced and raw affair, perfect material for intimate moments and quite easily the most surprising comeback of the year. Don’t miss this hidden treasure, kids!

Just a random thought

On a scale from “couch potatoe” to “mosh pit – how big is your desire for live concerts to return? It’s kind of weird for me. I do miss them a bit but the last seven months without live concerts and any musical festival felt surprisingly okay for me. But every now and then I get triggered whether it’s a band jamming on the sidewalk or someone blasting loud techno through a bluetooth speaker in the park. Suddenly I realize what I’m missing and it really hurts, this life without live music culture. I don’t like livestreamed concerts (does anyone at all?) and I avoided pandemic-conform concerts because they felt anything but attractive for me and judging from what my dear colleague Henning Grabow experienced at Reeperbahn Festival this year I’m not alone with this feeling. Live music is about escapism and carelessness and without that basic feeling they felt highly unatractive. So, until ths society and Corona-fighting science aren’t capable of guarantee it I’m okay to wait just a bit longer although I’m currently in the state of “Gosh, I really hope they find a solution for this in the first half of 2021.” We need to be optimistic here so I just bought IDLES tickets and hope it will happen. In the meantime we just need to continue to dance with ourselves and a few good people around us. For moments like this I created the Imaginary Rave Tapes series and here’s the latest instalment of it. Have fun!

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How do you stay updated in the digital thunderstorm of new releases? By trusting your favourite music media and its various curated playlists on Spotify to provide you with all the good stuff we consider recommendable in this day in age.