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A Musical Road Trip

Weekly5 • Edition #19 • Atzur, Desperate Journalist, Kendal, Foy Vance, Nebno

Today, the Weekly5 present itself once again as a colourful bouquet. The musical diversity remains a never-ending fascination for me. Even after 13 years, the admiration for artists who create great things across stylistic boundaries remains unbroken.

In this newsletter, I, therefore, recommend fresh material from European musicians. We embark on a musical road trip that spans the continent.

From Vienna to Barcelona, we ponder the meaning of home. Then over to London to shatter stereotypes. Next, we stop in postmodern Toulouse and dance our hearts out. Finally, in Northern Ireland, we look for our inner strength to dive into a new universe from Switzerland later on.

Atzur – Home to Home

Snow-covered fields pass by the windscreen. From Barcelona to Vienna - and back. This is how the continent-spanning anthem Home to Home by the Austrian-Spanish duo Atzur came into being. And there is this question: What is home, actually?

“And I've been afraid, cierro los ojos temo no volver,” Patricia Trost sings. “I close my eyes, afraid not to return.” The doubts are underpinned with longing and a sense of adventure but equally melancholy sounds of homesickness. Home to Home is torn, and yet optimism takes over at the end.

The drama of Home to Home is perfectly staged. In the best Florence + The Machine manner, Atzur build a power-packed monument. The sound is oversized, driven by pure conviction, and garnished with a good portion of pathos. A captivating mixture that throws you back to naked existence.

Desperate Journalist – Personality Girlfriend

It starts off trotting. Personality Girlfriend, the latest single by London post-punkers Desperate Journalist, is not a flawless genre gem - and all the more exciting for that very reason. Robert Hardy's guitar lurches around the corner like a sports car on a mountain pass.

The band around singer Jo Bevan, founded in 2012, amalgamates indie rock with prairie dust, covered with the melancholic ambience of post-punk. But Personality Girlfriend doesn't really leave you depressed. The track is too raw, too powerful, and too driving for that.

“The song is also a riposte to the tired old cultural trope that a woman has to be incredibly strong and some kind of paragon of virtue to be valuable or interesting,” Bevan says of the song. It's a gripping foretaste of Maximum Sorrow, the group's fourth studio album, released on 2 July.

Kendal – Pastaga (feat. David Caretta)

“You control your body.” Really? Because Pastaga (Pastis) by the Toulouse-based producer Kendal is just as spicy a drug as the alcoholic aniseed drink. And it may taste just as good to some - or not.

One thing is clear: Pastaga is liquid doping for the dancing leg. Kendal synthesizes an exaggerated 80s vibe and neon-coloured synth wave. Axel Foley meets cyberpunk in a post-apocalyptic disco. Have we landed in the past or the future? Doesn't matter, as long as we're whirling across the dancefloor next to Marty McFly on a hoverboard.

The ambivalence of the track is fascinating. There is a dark bass hammering overlaid with colourful synthesizer escapades. There are familiar retro airs, but futuristic holograms dance in your head.

Foy Vance – Sapling

It is the most powerful-voiced moustache in music - apart from Freddy Mercury, perhaps. Northern Irishman Foy Vance makes you forget time and space. His work, deeply rooted in folk and alt-country, is overwhelming and straightforward. The definition of indomitable beauty. A crown jewel of harmony.

With Sapling, Vance proves once again what his opus is cut from. A powerful ballad that bores directly into the soul like a dagger. Filled with heartbreak and self-doubt.

I will look, get inside myself for a home
Find only a sapling in search of an oak
Better to start my love, oh it's a start my love
But am I strong enough?

Nebno – Eyote

Eyote is the first piece Manon Schlittler has released under the new alias Nebno. But only the name is fresh; the sound is fortunately still an ethereal force.

The Swiss artist times a threatening image: a small boat on stormy waters. “Caught in the ocean, out of control.” Eyote is a metaphor for emotional chaos, shimmeringly instrumentalised. A powerful piece of sound art that seems at once familiar and yet otherworldly.

Nebno takes us into a universe that exists deep within us. She reveals the innermost of our being, the deepest fears, the most honest love. To do this, she tears the window to our own heart wide open, unprotected from the elements. Eyote exemplifies Nebno's profoundly personal music, which - freed from any structural notions - flows directly from her soul.

Disclosure: I wrote a press release for Manon Schlittler in 2019.

And that concludes another issue of Weekly5. Of course, always with the faint hope that I have recommended at least one song that will touch you and accompany you from now on.

If this is the case, please share this newsletter with your friends. Because maybe you feel the same way: Nothing is more beautiful than sharing a piece of music with your loved ones.

All the best,