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As I have stated again and again I’m a sucker for everything Punk. From the good old days of drinking beer and listening to teenage-angsty songs by Blink 182, The Ataris or Millencollin to the times when I fancied myself a real political activist, just because I listened to Bad Religion. Today, I’ve developed the kind of healthy cynicism that prevents me from thinking that music could really change anything substantial – but retained enough of my romantic side to appreciate a good soundtrack to the mess that is everyones life.

For the past few days I reconnected with my love for punk, and as a result this became the soundtrack of the mess that is my life. Future of the Left have everything: the energy, the grit, the pseudo-political lyrics you almost want to start a riot to or at least chide someone for selling out. I haven’t had this much fun with a band since I discovered McLusky all those years ago (which would be a post all by itself). So please, if you’re into this stuff, do sit down, or jump around, smash a shopwindow or two or just nod your head politely to the beat, and have fun with “Sheena Is A T-Shirt Salesman”. You can thank me later.

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I never really knew what to make of William Shatner covering pop songs. Doing what he did to “Rocket Man” takes balls, and the result was just awesome. But it was never something that I wanted to listen to over and over again. It was funny, it was beautiful in an insane kind of way, and it was truly great. But it was not really music I could enjoy.

Back in 2004 Shatner released an album called “Has Been” with original songs, and I couldn’t care less. I loved watching Shatner as an actor, but I didn’t want to listen to more of his music. If I wanted a pop classic torn to pieces Shatner style, I always had “Rocket Man”. And that was that.

But when I came across this cover a few days ago, the only one on “Has Been”, I was immediately captivated. The style of the cover manages to take everything that’s great about the original by Pulp and combines it with Shatner’s unique talent to fuck everything up until what’s left transcends badness and becomes something truly brilliant. Now I’m in love with this song. I really am.

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Mumford & Sons covering The National is like ten kinds of awesome. This brings two of my favourite bands together in one piece of beautiful music. I’ve been a fan of Marcus Mumford and his boys since their debut album “Sigh No More” back in 2009. The impact of that album on me, and the corresponding time its songs spent on my playlist, is rivaled by only a precious few other albums, like Arcade Fire’s “Neon Bible” or of course The National’s “Boxer”.

Needless to say, I love the shit out of this cover they did for their unplugged session for VH1. Listen to it, you’ll love it too.

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Sometimes in a long while there comes a tv commercial that’s really worth watching a second time. This one is for U.S. restaurant chain, and as I’m living in Germany, I only got to see it on the internet. Those of you living across the pond might be already sick of it.  But it stuck with me, and the reason for that is not the pretty animation or the cutesy message about Chipotle being all green and organic and whatnot, but the great music. It’s Willie Nelson covering Coldplay’s “The Scientist”, and the old country geezer’s broken and beautiful voice gives that oversweet song a new and haunting quality. Listen to it, it’s gonna stay with you for a long while.

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Fucking hell! I really forgot to show you one of my favourite music sources ever. Alas, nothing is lost. I present you TV Noir, which is really not a TV channel but a series of events that can be watched on YouTube. It’s mostly about german artists, singer-songwriters most of the time, and it’s amazing.

To celebrate this late introduction to TV Noir I’ll give you three of my favourite videos. The first is a unique cover of Rihanna’s “Umbrella” by german artist Jonas David. It’s sweet, it’s fragile, and it turns this ugly radio pop crap into something truly beautiful.

Next comes William Fitzsimmons, an artist I really admire. Okay, he’s got this new folk thing going, complete with this ludicrous beard, and that is something I normally despise. But as a songwriter this guy is a genius, and while every Berlin hipster with his looks would in nine of ten cases be a complete dick, this guy is just sweet and shy and funny and earnest – just like his music. Here is his beautiful rendition of Kanye West’s “Heartless”:

And finally one of my all-time favourites, Philipp Poisel. There are people who laugh about intelligent and emotionally charged german music – mostly because they are childish pricks that are too afraid to just let go. But this song should bring them around to accepting the truth: that this music can really be wonderful, without being kitschy. On second thought, maybe it won’t, but that doesn’t keep us from listening to Poisel’s “Herr Reimer”, one of the greatest songs ever written about german working class and the peculiarities of my parents’ generation.

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Boy, it’s been unbelievably long since I’ve posted something here. But that’s just how life goes, you’re really passionate about something, but then you get distracted, and just like that a few month pass and you just forget to keep being passionate. On the other hand, it might only take one magical moment, a few perfect bars of music captivating your heart and soul, and you find yourself right back in the game.

To cut a long story short, for me, this moment came when I watched “Drive” the other day. It’s an action movie without a lot of action, but with great acting and storytelling. It’s slow and elegant, it is pretty and beautiful, but turns to dark places when you expect it the least. And it has a main character, that embodies all that: he’s vulnerable and loving, but he can be violent and mean and cold-blooded, if need be. But in the end he is just a hero, despite all the darkness around him and the violence he can turn to so quickly.

And that’s, where the music comes into play. His theme song, so to speak, is “A Real Hero” by College. I’m usually not so much into that danceable electronic music thing everyone around me seems to get crazy about at the moment, and the other stuff by College that I’ve listened to reminded me a lot of the Knight Rider theme. But this one fits the mood of the film just perfectly, it gives it an emotional depth, that makes the movie so special. And there it was, my magical moment, getting me back to writing shit about music. Missed me? Tell me you did.

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Blink 182 released a new album, and I very nearly missed it. Seven years I had waited, through a hiatus and the following breakup, listening to everything Angels & Airwaves or +44 were putting out to get my little fix of Blinkness, although it was never quite like the real thing. Now, when they finally got back together and gave me the record I had longed for, I did not hear about it. I had stopped reading the news. I had moved on.

So, here it is now. It’s called “Neighborhoods”, and I have listened to it constantly since I finally got my hands on it. It’s good. But it’s not great. You might think that Tom, Mark and Travis might have picked up a few new tricks, or as they call it in the industry, “creative influences”, but no. They just picked up where they left. I dozed off during my third time or so listening to the album, and in my semi-sleep I could not distinguish between “Neighborhoods” and a playlist of my favourite Songs by Blink, Angels or +44. It was all the same. I was disappointed.

But then I listened to the thing another time. And then another. And I realized, that “all the same” might not be a liability in this case. To me, the reunited Blink 182 are like this adorable couple most people have in their circle of friends. They are cute with each other, albeit a little boring in their little habits and small quirks. When they break up, it breaks your heart a little. You feel forlorn. You hope for them to mend things. You want everything to get back to the comforting way it was. So Blink 182 in 2011 are a bit boring. Old fashioned. But knowing that they are back together, doing what they were always doing as if nothing ever happened?

It warms my heart.

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Oh hell! Whenever I think it finally is, that damn genre screams right into my face: Punx not dead! Not that it didn’t suffer a lot. Remember the bad times, when all these little kids with guitars who thought that covering some fifties song real fast and with distortion would be sufficient to call their noise punk. But hear the old man whine about how no one really understands his music anymore and nothing can get as good as it was ten or twenty years ago! Pathetic. So listen to The Vaccines instead, and go crazy.

Did you know, that these guys formed just in 2010? They would go great with The Ramones or The Misfits on a stage, their style in this video reminding me of good ol’ ‘77 punk, noise, hoarse singing and a hell of a lot of fun (even they can be more refined, if they want to). I just discovered them, and I think I’m in love. Ah, to be young again. Time to fetch the old axe and put those power chords back to good use. Or just buy the debut album of The Vaccines and go pogo all over the place.

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Here it is, the perfect hymn for summer melancholy, one of the first songs I loved with the fullness of my little, black heart, and one of the first I clumsily tried to play on my guitar. In this little tune, The Replacements condensed everything that ails you, when your friends have moved on, your dreams have faded away and you find yourself alone in deserted places that once meant everything to you. When suddenly drinking seems to be the only sane thing to do. Phew. Pretty hard stuff.

But there’s a silver lining here: When you’re really down and out, every next step can only take you upwards. And of course we got a great song out of Paul Westerberg’s little depression. So hooray for us. Now, listen, and let yourself slip away into your own little version of bittersweet summer sadness.

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There are too many cover bands out there to count, and most of them are really bad. Or does anyone remember that terrible time when virtually every pop punk band out there had to have at least one stupid cover in their repertoire? Goldfinger, I’m looking at you, you know what you’ve done. But sometimes, covering stuff turns out to be a great idea, as is the case with everything by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (when you’re twenty and drunk) or Richard Cheese (whenever the fuck you want).

A great example for the latter is Hellsongs. This Swedish band took all the classics of Metal and made them their own, applying a sugary sweet indie-pop style to them to whisper them seductively into your ear. Don’t tell me that doesn’t work for you. So, let’s listen to an Iron Maiden classic, made so pretty that even your Mom would love it. Beautiful.