Saturday, 14 .June, 2008, 14:47 - English Entries, Music, Politics

Hard to know, whether there are more people still reading this blog than writing - but that is no excuse to for writing just the next entry. Yes, I still exist, I still live in Helsinki and I am not keeping contact as regularly as I should.

Here are two songs I wanted to point out to you for your last weekend in spring - be sure to read the lyrics.

Kill the poor sung by Matthew Grimm & the Red Smear (lyrics). I know, the Dead Kennedys once did a song with the same title - this one here is the 2008 update.

World turned upside down sung by Billy Bragg (lyrics).

That's at least part of what activates me at the moment - hope it helps you too.

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The White Stripes - Icky Thump or: What the hell would you want in Hell? 
Sunday, 01 .July, 2007, 14:23 - English Entries, Music
It's my third day of listening to the new White Stripes Album "Icky Thump". From finding out that it will come out to finally finding it in my mail it took over three weeks, during which I was wondering whether Jack and Meg would manage to make some sort of step forward after their last album "Get Behind Me Satan". I will save you from my praise for the band as such and the music they made so far - I'll maybe come to this at another point in time and space. Let's go through the new album.

The Songs

You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told) sounds like a song from the good old 80's that was pushed into a puddle of mud, kicked from all sides and finally got stripped off all unnecessary effects. The song did not get any more intelligent lyrics due to that, but most likely we should not ask for that and just let the music let have it's turn. A good song - but it makes me a bit afraid: is that all, that they will do on this album? Enriching existing styles?

From a song titled 300 M.P.H Torrential Outpour Blues one would not expect to start soft and gentle and basically going on with this for about five and a half minutes. There are sequences when Jack gets serious, which usually he does by avoiding singing and letting his Guitar do the work and Meg hits on the drums and the world is just a good place. Here we have a true blues, that makes his way straight to the listeners nervous systems and rattles it around. Other bands can do that as well, but the style is really White Stripes and the lyrics are touching and rich of metaphors that never miss the point. Well done.

Well done, indeed, that becomes even more clear, when Conquest starts. Even after listening to this for several times, I cannot stand this song. It is in a not acceptable style pathetic and overdone and anyhow it seems to be a cover, at least I think I know the song. Just jump to the next song and use the joker on this.

Bone broke is wild, confused, hard - a good rock song, no doubt about that. But we are not here to listen to everyday Rock'n'Roll, we want to know whether Jack and his sister are worth to play high up on mount Olympus or whether they are already on their way down from there.

So next song: Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn. Don't listen to the lyrics - they do not help at all, at least not in the first place. The song just open the windows to the meadows and hills of some Sunday morning country, over which we can jump and la-la-la sing and the angels, in which we do not believe anymore, fly around us, together with the fairies and the air is fresh and everything, just everything is so intensive and green and lai-di-lai-oh-ho. Listen to it twice and your brain will be in this half-retarded, half-childish state, that everybody needs every now and then and then just go on and read the lyrics. Yes, right, they do not surprise you anymore. Lai-di-Lai-oh-oh. I like it - some may hate it.

Prickly Thorn fades over into St. Andrew (This Battle Is in The Air) in which we hear a piper (he most likely comes straight from the green hills of the last song, but he must have sniffed something strange inbetween) and Meg talks stuff and then there is the drum and every time we hear the guitar, we somehow understand, that the friendly Lai-di-lai-oh-ho has turned into a severe nightmare. It only lasts 1:49 minutes, but it leaves you with something to chew on.

And then Jack counts "1, 2, 3,4" and Little Cream Soda starts. Here we go - there is no doubt left anymore, these are the White Strips and we are in the middle of some kind of war or something similar. Nothing talks about the good things in life, besides when telling us, that they are over. Jack does not even try to sing here - he just sermons about the misery in his life, he complains about getting older and still keeps a straight attitude, without ever going into whining. Mount Olympus, they are coming!

Rag And Bone just goes on with being great. The two siblings have a little conversation and first it was not clear to me, what happened, but once I understood that they are breaking into peoples homes, I got the rest. Jack offers all the stuff that belongs to other people to his sister and they keep ranting along. It ends with a friendly recommendation to all those people owning stuff: "so lock it up, whatever you still want to own" - better do that, the White Stripes are coming and they are breaking in - no doubt about that anymore.

I'm Slowly Turning Into You is another love song that starts acceptably normal, offers a psychedelic chorus and then gos on to be a typical White Stripes song, including some guitar strangling, till it ends (slowly turning into you) in another "a-la-la a-la-la" repetition, a very different one from the lai-di-lai of "Prickly Thorn".

A Martyr For My Love For You is a sad song that knows it has to stay quiet, even when it lets out rage in some hard riffs. A well told story, a good piece of music, a blues that doesn't try to be anything more than a blues. Jack and Meg know they territory very well - there is not a single step out of it, they fully obey the frame that music sets them - but within these borders, they do everything possible.

Did I say Blues? Here's another one: Catch Hell Blues. They take 45 seconds to agree on what to make out of this song and then it rolls like a train on hard drugs. Jack finds it appropriate to start to "sing" after one and a half minute and he does things to the guitar that you better do not try at home, at least send the children to bed first. And back to the beginning, finding the way into the song again - and boom da da boom boom - let it roll. Another song to close your eyes, listen to it and play it again and afterwards you most likely just stay on "repeat song" for a while. Catch Hell, it's worth it.

And with Effect and Cause the album ends already, another blues - straight from first to last second, with Jack singing and nothing special happening. Perfect ending.

Did I miss something? Of course, the first song. Icky Thump - that is already played all over the charts. Breeding, aggressive, wild, dirty. Guitar, drums, voice - and in-between excursions to strange musical realms that are bordering to unacceptable noise. Also here, in all this hard driven, dark composition, Jack puts in his "alalalalala" and - how the hell did he do that? - it works. Icky Thump not only gave the album its title, it is also a blue print of it. It opens the door and shows you everything that you can expect. But you have to experience it all to really get it.


So what about it? Are the two siblings from Detroit now playing in the league of gods? Well, who cares? Jack and Meg obviously do not think at all about making their names live forever - they just hit drum and guitar and let the need for being special far behind them. Whatever they are, they are definitely divine.

Their sound does not give cheap elevations for a few moments of pleasure. Their lyrics are not comforting and more than once Jack finds it terribly uncool to get older and besides just getting on with it he has to offer no solution. Here's finally the guy who admits it: it's pure shit, so what?

The White Stripes rip open spots where the skin of music anyhow was thin and vulnerable, they play their heart blood into it and whatever was itching before, has lalalalala gone away afterwards. The retarded lalaling shows itself in different shapes and offers no stupid escape, it is the way to kick back on the world.

Icky Thump is no hippy sound, no intellectual high-fly and is for sure nothing easy to swallow for generation-E(soteric). Last time, they left Satan behind them, now they conquer his realm and if you do not want to go there after this album, you never were into Rock and Blues in the first place - so what the hell would you want in Hell?
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Maija Vilkkumaa in Concert - Tavastia, Helsinki - May 24th 2006 
Thursday, 25 .May, 2006, 11:40 - English Entries, Finland, Music, Photographs

Maija Vilkkumaa Maija Vilkkumaa played live yesterday in Tavastia. I got recently addicted to her music when I got her two albums "Ei" and "Se ei olekaan niin" as a present. She's all Rock'n'Roll and full of drive and I regret to not understand her words.

But seeing her live is the one thing about her you must not miss, as she is a bolt of lightning. When jumping around on the stage she disproves several laws of physics, being an endless source of energy and joy.

Unfortunately I was not in the first row and I am still not good enough with my camera to make really good picture, but I hope some of them give you an impression about yesterday night.

» My pictures from yesterdays concert (Flickr)
» Watch the pictures as a slideshow (Flickr)

» Maija Vilkkumaa Homepage
» Maija Volkkumaa on Wikipedia

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German Music: Peter Licht and the End of Capitalism 
Monday, 22 .May, 2006, 08:25 - English Entries, Germany, Music

Peter Licht - Vierzehn Lieder Peter Licht (translates to "Peter Light") is one of the most surreal German artists that I know. His songs are soft (electro) pop, his lyrics are often far from reality. His best known album so far was "Vierzehn Lieder" (Fourteen Songs), on which he had such inspiring messages as "Gravity is overrated - it is not really necessary", "Stay away from Pop Culture" or "We are young and we are worrying about our chances on the job market". He sang about his "Relative from Transsylvania" and regretted that he lost a "Parking lot at the foot of the N'Gong mountains". Most famous became his beautifully simple song "sun deck" and this one:

Peter Licht:

I love the hate speeches of my shoemaker
whenever I give him something that needs to be repaired
I love being insulted by guys who make pizza
I love it to be grilled by somebody
I love the songs of civil servants,
I love love this sing-sang

I love to lose direction in the vally of tears
I love to be left there standing when it rains shit
I appreciate when moths like my clothes
I love when somebody tells me that something will not work out
I love talks about suicide
I love love this sing-sang

But it needs to be charming
And it needs to be subtle
And it must not miss humor
And it should be sexy
And it should be of wit
And cheerfulness

I also appreciate the big catastrophes
I love social differences
I love it when everybody is complaining,
I love love this sing-sang

But it needs to be charming
And it needs to be subtle
And it must not miss humor
And it should be sexy
And it should be of wit
And cheerfulness

A few days ago his new Album "Lieder vom Ende des Kapitalismus" (Songs about / from the End of Capitalism) came out, together with a book ("Wir werden gewinnen" / We Will Win). I could not resist and gave the translation of the title song a try - it's simply too good.

Peter Licht:
Song from / about the End of Capitalism

did you already
did you hear already
this is the end
the end
of capitalism
now it's finally over

over over over over over over
over over oh-over over
now it's finally over

do you remember
we rode with the sun carriage
over the firmament

and we plucked the stuff
from the shelves – from the stores
and we were complete

do you remember
we organized our things
with money

over over over over over over
over over oh-over over
now it's finally over

do you remember
we all labelled ourselves
and put on less and less clothes

do you remember
when we all were too much
do you remember

labelled and too much
and our bellies –
our capitalistic bellies

over over over over over over

capitalism, the old trickster,
he lived us off long enough

over over over over
now it's finally over
over over over over
now it's finally over

it was long enough anyhow
it was long enough anyhow

did you already
did you hear already
it's finally over

Obviously his lyrics do not offer an alternative to the capitalistic system, his criticism is not clearly formulated and it is all not helpful to really fix the problems of our time. Accepted!

But Peter takes us to an over-idealistic dance on a meadow, where we can believe for something around three minutes that everything is over and better now. It's over, over, over - it's finally over. He sums up the worries and fears in a single word, that he abandons and it becomes clear that afterwards we just feel free and light.

Of course this is an illusion, a cheap trick, playing with the feelings of the listeners. But then again: whatever he expresses would not work if there would not be the true desire for such a change. Or at least a general feeling of being fed-up with the current situation and system.

The song is a big, easy smile, that lurks behind our own dissatisfaction. It is friendly and harmless, it does not talk about revolution or brutality. It has gone past those revolting against something. It gives hope, without saying for what we should hope. Peter Licht is an artist who does not try to teach us anything but criticizes in the most friendly, humorous and effective way.

» Listen to "Lied vom Ende des Kapitalismus" (on Peter Licht's MySpace Page)
» Watch the Video of "Heiterkeit" (Cheerfulness) - on YouTube
» Watch the Video of "Clubbing Against Capitalism" - on YouTube
» Watch the Video of "Meine transsylvanische Verwandte" - on YouTube

» Peter Licht – Official Homepage (in German)
» Peter Licht (in German)

» Peter Licht - CD: Vierzehn Lieder
» Peter Licht - CD: Lieder vom Ende des Kapitalismus
» Peter Licht - CD: Lieder vom Ende des Kapitalismus + Book: Wir werden siegen

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Online reporting from the 51st European Song Contest  
Saturday, 20 .May, 2006, 20:19 - English Entries, Europe, Finland, Music
I could not find enough energy tonight to go out and decided to watch and comment the 51st Eurovision Song Contest, this year (for the first time) from Athens.

The winning song of last year was just performed again by Elena Paparizou and I have to say - wow!, really sexy and with good rhythm. Not too bad at all, although I would not put the song among my own favourites.

Switzerland - Six4One - If we all give a little
Six singers that should somehow represent different cultures or at least different mentalities run around without coordination and sing a slimy song.
No points.

Moldova - Arsenium featuring Natalia Gordienko & Connect-R - Loco
Latin style love song with a half-naked blond, a wannabe macho and some dancers that never heared the song before. A black guy gives a solo in hip-hop style and maybe pushes up the street credability, but not the quality of the song.
No points.

Israel - Eddie Butler - Together we are one
A soul song, a little bit too soft and blunt for me, but at least the coordination of the dancers works a bit better than in the two other performances. Oh yes, now it gets rhythm - nice.
I'll spend some points on that. But I don't think they'll win.

Latvia - Cosmos - I hear your heart
A singer that looks like a woman makes strange noises. Two guys abuse their voices, sing far to high in the beginning. But then it all gets into groove. An acapella song.
I'll also give some points here.

Norway - Christine Guldbrandsen - Alvedansen
Oh oh - a group of beautiful ladies in white short dresses - some of them play violine. The blond singer sings something that sounds half traditional, half pop. The song is nothing special, but not bad. The dancing is boring and nothing special. But the performers are something and the violines sound nice. Also nice that they sing in their own language.
Up till now the best song (including the visual ... effects).

Spain - Las Ketchup - Bloody Mary
The four ladies are dresses in red and sit on chairs - making gymnastics whilst singing in Spanish. A black dressed couple dances in front. Maybe the couple should introdcue a touch of art, not sure why they are there else. It all sounds like a low-fi version of the Ketchup Song. A little bit more dancing would have been fine.
No point.

Malta - Fabrizio Faniello - I do
Here comes the blond macho with high voice. Disco Sound please. Thank you. Four dancers dressed in a uninteresting combination of white and green-gray try to save what is lost from the first tune. The song is nearly as boring as the guy.
If this wins, I'll never watch the song contest again.

Germany - Texas Lightning - No No Never
I have not listened to this song beofre. There goes the country band from central Europe. The woman sings whilst sitting on a bar chair, shwoing her cowboy boots and her pink dress. The guys wear cowboy hats. Now the woman stood up. Aha. It does NOT look convincing. The song is thin and misses somehow a peak. Now the chorous goes into an endless loop.
Thanks to the rules I am not allowed to vote for the song from my own home country.

Denmark - Sidsel Ben Semmane - Twist of Love
Hey! Rock'n'Roll! Gary Glitter dressed the girls up in gold. The voice of the singer has character - she can even go into dirty rough tones. The performance is not the best, but the song is good, it is the first one that would make me move.
Denmark, you are my candidate so far.

Russia - Dima Bilan - Never Let You Go
A guy who looks as if he just came from working on the nearby bulding site. The song is latin-like, but not enough to piss me completly off. Two ballett dancers came out and hop around and actually that does look quite good. A pale woman climbs out of a piano, like a ghost. Impressive performance, the song is acceptable.
So Russia gets some points, but Denmark is still on top of the charts.

FYR Macedonia - Elena Risteska - Ninanajna
Latin-Disco sound again, but a little bit more aggressive than before. The pop song additionaly takes on some oriental characteristics whilst the dancers (in something that looks like sports dresses) jump around and show their bodies and the singer shakes her ass. The show is cheap, the song has some rhythm that is ok.
Few points for Macedonia.

Romania - Mihai Traistariu - Tornerò
Guy in balck suite and white shirt sings a ridicoulus disco song. Girls dressed in strange clothes hop around him. I open my first beer. Romania, please join the EU, but don't bother us with that music.
No points.

Now the first twelve song have been sung. The hosts start talking again. They look very greek.

Bosnia and Herzegovina - Hari Mata Hari - Leijla
A violin starts it all, a guitar joins in, then a flute. A man in a white suite sings a slow, gentle song that sounds like longing. The instrument players are also dressed in white, it all looks like a picture from a greek legend. The song is nothing big and we have heared this half-traditional, half-pop stuff already before, but still they did a good job on it.
One of my favourites.

Lithuania - LT United - We Are the Winners
"We are the winners of Eurovision - vote for the winners" - a bunch of guys tries to make a funny show and fail. Sound and chorus are quite catchy, but the whole thing is nothing to be remembered.
Some points

United Kingdom - Daz Sampson - Teenage Life
Pop song with school girls giving dance and chourus and a guy giving a streamlined hip-hop performance. It is much better than not bad. The performance is funny and so is the whole song.
If a pop song has to win, then it should be this.

Greece - Anna Vissi - Everything
Here comes the host. A blond, strange dressed lady performs a love song that tries to be rock. It is as much a good song as she is capable of dancing. She walks up and down and shakes her hand. Ok, the electric guitar riffs get harder, her voice is not bad, I have to admit. Good that they won last year, this year their performance was rather disappointing.
One or two points.

Finland - Lordi - Hard Rock Hallelujah
Here comes Finland! The only song I knew in advance. The monster show was advertised long before and the song has power. Nice - not the normal half-naked-women-hop-around show. That's all wild. Daring show, great wild sound.
Among my four favourites.

Ukraine - Tina Karol - Show Me Your Love
The next Latino song, this time from a blond lady that could also perform at a greek tourist dance group. She desperately shakes the upper part of her body. The male dancers do rope skipping. It's not good. Sorry to say.
No points.

France - Virginie Pouchain - Il étai temps
Also in France they understood that singers for the Eurovision song contest need to be female and blond and that a white dress always looks good on them. A slow, romantic song with a minimum of show. The voice of the singer is rather thin, but the song is nice and the double bass player does a good job as well.
Some points.

Croatia - Severina - Moja stikla
The female singer wears a dress that does not cover her legs at all and one is just waiting for the moment until a bit too much becomes visible. She sings a traditional pop song with a group of shepards and performs knee-bends with them. Sometimes she sings "Sex". Now she removed the lower parts of her dress. It does not save the song or the show.
No points.

(My internet connection went down - not sure when it works again)

Ireland - Brian Kennedy - Every Song Is A Cry For Love
Obviously the singers parents were active in the 60s, he wears a suite and has long hair. The song, which is boring and preaches that every song is about love, makes me open the next beer. I try to think about the last good song that came out of Ireland and take the first sip.
No points

(Internet connection is back)

Sweden - Carola - Invincible
And the next disco song. It's not "Waterloo". The singer tries to emphasize her true feelings about the lyrics by running back and forth on the stage. Her friends wave transparent flags in the background. The whole thing is very transparent. The dancing performance gets a bit better, but is for sure not invincible. Swedes are good in Eishockey.
No points.

Turkey - Sibel Tüzün - Süper star
A disco song without drive, a not-too-young blond lady with lots of tattoos is sourrounded by four black-dressed dancers. She babbles in Turkish, then she does some belly dancing. Some electric guitars roar. We saw Turkeys the 1970s performance for the Eurovision Song Contest.
No points.

Armenia - André - Without Your Love
Oriental sound, four girls and a guy bend before an altar like table. It's a bit thin pop song, but with a good drive during the chorus and nice dancing performance.
Some points - but please not too many.

Nana Mouskouri comes to stage and says that all participants are winners. Of course. Afterwards a short review of the performed songs is shonw.

My favourites:

Actually I have to admit that during this short presentation the songs from France and Greece did not look that bad at all. But they are definitly not my favourites.

Whilst the voting is performed, last years winner Helena Paparizou performs another song. She is really good in it - it is all styled through and nice to listen and watch.

Now the voting starts. Only the 8, 10 and 12 points are nowadays announced, due to that the procedure gets shortend.

Points given to Finland
Slovenia - 8 - #3
Andorra - 10 - #1
Romania - 4 - #1
Denmark - 12 - #1
Latvia - 8 - #1
Portugal - 6 - #1
Sweden - 12 - #1

Finland gave 12 points to Russia, who are now have 58 points, whilst Finland has 60

Belgium - 8 - #1
Croatia - 10 - #1
Serbia and Montenegro - 7 - #1
Norway - 12 - #1

Now the two reporters from TV2 do not stop babbling anymore, it is impossible to understand what is said on stage or by the vote giving countries. Excitement everywhere.

Estonia - 12 - #1

If Finland wins I have to go to the nearby bar and celebrate.

Ireland - 10 - #1
Malta - 7 - #1
Lithuania - 10 - #1
Cyprus - 5 - #1
Netherlands - 7 - #1

Now half of the countries have voted, Finland got 148 points, followed by Russia with 118 and Bosnia and Herzegowina with 103.

Switzerland - 8 - #1
Ukraine (last years host) - 7 - #1
Russia - 8 - #1

Finland is leading now with 40 points advantage, next is Bosnia and Herzegowina.

Poland - 12 - #1
United Kingdom - 12 - #1

Oh my, it is so fair - a monster rock band wins the Eurovision Song Contest for Finland

Armenia - 0 - #1

Armenia is the first country that gave no points to Finland.

France - 8 - #1
Belarus - 7 - #1

Two thirds of the countries have now voted. Now comes Germany.

Germany - 10 - #1

Germany gave 12 points to Turkey.

Spain - 10 - #1
Moldova - 6 - #1

Now it is close to impossible to beat the Finns. 236 points, and Russia is next with 190 points.

Bosnia and Herzegowina - 7 - #1
Iceland - 12 - #1


Monaco - 0 - #1

I hardly ever saw a more thrilling Song Contest.

Israel - 7 - #1
Albania - 0 - #1
Greece - 12 - #1
Bulgaria - 5 - #1

The female Finnish reporter on TV2 went all wild and shouting out loud from excitement.

Macedonia - 6 - #1
Turky - 7 - #1

And Finland has won. 292 points! It is unbelievable. Rock'n'Roll simply did it! Wonderful. The rest is history.

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