Downlovers – Undressed Clowns

PROjACT music
Graz 2013

Noch eine Grazer Band, die unter meinem Radar geblieben ist und die mich neulich irgendwie überrascht hat. Erwartet man sich von jungen Leuten zumeist zeitgenössische Klänge, so hört man von diesem Quartett die 80er Jahre heraus, eine musikalische Epoche, als die Bandmitglieder noch gar nicht geboren waren. Aber sie hört sich gut an, denn Rockmusik bleibt Rockmusik und sie wird von der Band solide gespielt. Das Debutalbum „Undressed Clowns“ sammelt Eigenkompositionen, nur auf der Bühne werden Coverversionen dargebracht.

„Der unverkennbare „acoustic boogie rock“ der Downlovers zeugt mit belebender Originalität von versoffenen Nächten, verschüttetem Bier, verlorenen Liebschaften, vom Ausnüchtern und Erwachen bei Sonnenschein und Vogelgezwitscher.“ behauptet die 2006 gegründete Band sehr poetisch von sich selbst, was man reinen Gewissens über Rockmusik ganz allgemein sagen kann. Was also ist die Originalität des Albums?

Nun, das ist wohl die Stimme des Sängers Michael Down. Unverkennbar, wenngleich sie mich an Kurt Cobain erinnert, er ruhe in Frieden. Zusammen mit der Gitarre Steve Lovers rockt es sich gut. Man möchte tanzen.

Downlovers live | Fotos © Gerald Ganglbauer 2014

Downlovers sind: Michael Down, Steve Lovers, Roberto Lanzelotti und Georgeman

Franka De Mille – Bridge the Roads

Chi Wara Music
London 2013

The CD arrived yesterday from London. Chi Wara Music had sent it through Royal Mail, which took 19 days to reach Austria. Amazing. Sydney is much further away, yet Australia Post is much faster. Chi Wara manage the in my part of the world unknown singer songwriter Franka De Mille, and they felt that she might be „of great interest to our readers“. Sounded a bit pushy, but it made me curious and we ordered her album for review anyway.

Franka De Mille’s debut „Bridge The Roads,“ we were told, has an elegant blend of Chamber music and Americana. Hm, what does this sound like? It was released physically in Germany and Austria via Universal Music on 29 March 2013 and has been attracting great (and some skeptical) reviews. Fair enough. Unfortunately I’ve never seen her in a live concert, so I played the CD all day on the stereo and judged by myself.

I must admit, I wasn’t immediately blown away by this London based singer songwriter. She sounded too much like this one or that one, when I really expected to hear something new. And the shallow „Come On“ was a bad choice as the opening track. But even though Franka De Mille’s voice is not unique in this sense, her music grows on you.

Skip the first couple of songs and you’ll get the reward of an intimate look through the window of her soul in „Gare Du Nord“. One wonders about the French words in an English song (perhaps to let us know she speaks the language), but somehow she gets away with it, and I even forgive that she has been compared to Patti Smith, Tori Amos, Kate Bush, etc. However, her marketing worked, for now I wanted to know more about this Franka De Mille. Under this name is no article in Wikipedia, and her age is nowhere to be found. I can only guess and wonder why her debut came about so mature.

Anyway, there’s something about Franka De Mille that makes me put this name on my bucket list of people I want to see in concert, and I look forward to listen to her next album. In a little animated film about her music, the enigmatic singer states „there’s no greater miracle than getting a second chance“. This makes me wonder even more about her life. Official website

The Base – Tested Under Extreme Conditions

nubabel entertainment
Graz 2011

I discovered The Base when I returned to Graz, after a long absence, when the trio already released their album #10. This made me want to listen to their previous recordings. Tested Under Extreme Conditions was released two years earlier, However, at the same time, the band had sent us also their 2010 release, 16 Songs In Self Defense, and I must admit I was very curious about these albums. They offer very dark titles, like:

The End Of The World Why does the sun go on shining? Why does the sea rush to shore? Don’t they know it’s the end of the world ‚Cause you don’t love me any more? Why do the birds go on singing? Why do the stars glow above? Don’t they know it’s the end of the world? It ended when I lost your love. I wake up in the morning and I wonder Why ev’rything’s the same as it was. I can’t understand, no I can’t understand How life goes on the way it does Why does my heart go on beating? Why do these eyes of mine cry? Don’t they know it’s the end of the world? It ended when you said goodbye Don’t they know it’s the end of the world? It ended when you said goodbye.

The opening tune goes like this (read the lyrics, and watch the tune performed at the Burgtheater in Vienna):

Born In Devil’s Motel (Words by Norbert Wally | Music by The Base) What day it was I cannot say Sometime around the middle of May It happened on a midnight cruise to hell My mother she went into labour My dad he couldn’t find her a hay barn I was born in devil’s motel Born, born, born in devil’s motel Born, born, born in devil’s motel The midwife she picked up a broom Poked around in my mothers womb And told her that she’s doing well And when I saw the light of Day – well it was night but anyway – I knew for sure this must be hell Born, born, born in devil’s motel Born, born, born in devil’s motel That’s why I love to let it burn and Why I got demons in my head That’s why I don’t like the sound of church bells Cause I was born in devil’s motel.

I admit: I just love the music of The Base each and every time I hit the play button. Hopefully I’ll be around for their next live gig.

The Base – 16 Songs in Self Defense

nubabel entertainment
Graz 2010

Already out there for three years, yet unknown to me so far, this album holds perhaps my favourite tunes. Not only flows the music cool and smooth, the lyrics are simply mind blowing: Norbert Wally’s voice is perfect for slow tunes like She She She or Sugarfree Baby. Kudos for the hilarious 55 Days and 55 Days (Happy End Cut).

55 Days (Words by Norbert Wally | Music by The Base) This song’s going to destroy itself in 55 days Today the cigarette machine asked me if I’m 16 So I pulled my card and I stuck it in It spat it right back into my face This song’s going to destroy itself in 55 days Then a woman passed by, she pretended to cry She said she needed help cause her brother had just died And her baby needs diapers, baby needs diapers, baby needs diapers So I checked my change to save her life This song’s going to destroy itself in 55 This song’s going to destroy itself in 55 days But she said she needed 20, I replied my wallet’s empty And she left without a word, no, she didn’t even thank me And I fell off the sidewalk, fell off the sidewalk, fell off the sidewalk And I hurt my knee, but I still knew it was me I was bleeding like I’d fallen off a family tree Listened to what my mobile says, it said: This song’s going to destroy itself in 55 This song’s going to destroy itself in 55 This song’s going to destroy itself in 55 days And I know I shouldn’t worry and I shouldn’t be sorry About the parts I play in another person‘ story What if u hadn’t noticed me, what if u hadn’t noticed me, what if u hadn’t noticed me When I sat there with my broken knee And a moment of intimacy was triggering off some old memory Of a lost love, many moons no play Of a left out chance, many moons no play Of a happy day, many moons no play I set the time code, set the time code, set the time code, set the time code.

Now watch this one: Buffalo People (Words by Norbert Wally | Music by The Base) You don’t wanna wait till I come by Cause it might get a little late, but I’ll try And u don’t wanna dream what I dreamed last night I had two horns on my head and my head was shaking off a fly U don’t wanna pull A fight With Buffalo People You won’t see white foam steaming out of my nose I snuff it back in, let it tickle up to my eyes It rains down my spine, down into my toes Take your hands down now, safe your fury for a better lie U don’t wanna pull A fight With Buffalo People.

Makes me proud to come of the same small town as Norbert Wally. Perhaps creativity stems from the water of the river Mur. Just kidding. Go and see my favourite band from Graz live somewhere. Current dates of their concerts can be found on the official band website.

The Base – Secret Second Thoughts

Vienna 2013

On 19 January I went to a concert at the Postgarage Graz to see several bands I had never heard of before. Not that those bands were unknown to the world, they just went under the radar in my Australian life. However, they had made themselves a name in Austria, and it was then that I discovered The Base, an outfit from my hometown of Graz. They are an alternative or indie rock trio – Norbert Wally (vocals, guitars), born 16 May 1970 in Graz, Albrecht Klinger (vocals, guitars, bass), born 1 February 1965 in Linz, and Karlheinz Miklin jr. (drums, percussion, vocals), born 15 January 1971 in Klagenfurt – with an impressive list of nine published albums. They had formed in 1989, (the same year I moved to Sydney), and had their breakthrough with „Jet Crash Kills“ in 1996.

I checked them out. Their website is cool and current, so I sent an e-mail to pre-order Secret Second Thoughts, their tenth album, due to be released in a couple of weeks. Front man Norbert Wally replied within hours on a Sunday morning and I was blown away by the friendly response, and the hand-delivered CD on the night of the concert. Their live performance was very professional, and the crowd had a fantastic time listening and dancing along, even though their gig didn’t start until well after midnight as the night’s main act. A heightening experience!

Now, let’s talk about this new album. The lyrics are smart, intelligent, and worth listening to: „It’s a safe bet that the sun won’t set/ When no one saw it rise today/ The tide runs high against the black of the sky/ And the clouds begin to party big way/ I don’t wanna wake up with a mouthful of rain/ But I suppose I got nothing better to say/ The rats don’t leave the ship/ The rats don’t leave the ship/ The rats won’t leave the ship yet“ are the first lines of the album, and then we discover another gem, beautifully visualized in the band’s promotional video.

The album offers solid rock songs, but the real strength of the unique voice of Norbert Wally shines in slow tunes like this: „I promise I…/ I’ll leave some coffee in the fridge for you/ And I can spare a cigarette or two or three/ And leave the lighter on the chair/ How I wish you were here/ But I don’t know if I wish you would stay/ If I could bare to see you/ Every night and day/ Or if it’s easier to say…/ That I leave a light on for you/ I leave a light on for you/ I leave a light on for you“ which is a romantic ballad in itself, sung with a soft and tender voice.

He can shout and yell, whisper in your ears, stroke your skin, for he has the sexiest voice on this side of the world. Norbert Wally’s charisma on stage reminded me in some ways of Jim Morrison, or Michael Stipe. The girls melted on the dance floor, their hot faces smiling, even my girlfriend and I were dancing along like other patrons half our age. One of their beautiful ballads asks „(Would I Be) A Good Santa Claus?“ and my answer would be for sure: Yes, because „You Turn Me On (Yeah)“, which is one of my personal favorites on the album.

I definitely need to get my hands on some of their earlier releases, too.

Links:  Postgarage Graz | Norbert Wally | Albrecht Klinger | Karlheinz Miklin jr. | The Base website | The Base photos | monkey music

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