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Smalltown Boys and Big Beats

Edition #14 | 🎵 Kele, Äl Jawala, girl in red, Danko Jones, Iñigo Montoya

Switzerland’s government is loosening its Covid-19 restrictions. Theoretically, concerts are possible again from Monday onwards. However, the silence will not end just yet. On Thursday, I’ve written a short opinion piece about the upcoming changes in the Corona measures.

The bottom line: It’s still up to us, the music enthusiasts, to support our favourite artists by the means we have. At least by streaming their songs as often as possible. But ideally, we buy records and other merchandise directly from them.

And I hope you will find some new artists to support in these times. Today, I’ve again added five new tracks to the playlist (check it out on Spotify or Apple Music).

The selection features sensual tunes, contemporary world music, sugarcoated riot pop-punk, sexual garage rock and experimental ambient hip-hop.

Let’s discover!

Kele – Smalltown Boy

There’s no way around it: Bronski Beat’s 1984 single Smalltown Boy is an evergreen. In the last decades, the song has been covered countless times – more or less successfully. The latest attempt at this driven hymn takes Kelechukwu Rowland Okereke, known as the frontman of Bloc Party.

However, it’s no coincidence that Kele decided to create his own version of Smalltown Boy. The story of a boy that leaves his parents after his coming out might ring with Kele’s personal life. He came out as homosexual in 2010.

The British musician’s rendition of Smalltown Boy is haunting. Carried by his unique voice, the song takes a more sinister approach, with the eternal melody reverbing in the darkness. Kele’s cover is dark, bittersweet, yet undeniably beautiful.

Äl Jawala – Stronger

“Danceable culture-shock” – that’s Äl Jawala’s own description of their music. And it’s quite accurate. The quintet from Freiburg, Germany fuzes Balkan Big Beats, oriental melodies and tropical afrobeat into an irresistible sound.

Their latest single is called Stronger – an anthem to continuous change. The powerful, lush sound definitely underlines the message: Obstacles become opportunities. In the end, it’s your mindset that defines how you see the world.

Usually, I’m not a big fan of world music. But the contemporary take of Äl Jawala pumps excitement through every vein, rendering it impossible not to move your body. There are no more boundaries, no more pigeonholed genres to define this track. Despite the extensive use of electronic tricks, Stronger feels inherently organic and human.

girl in red – You Stupid Bitch

🎧 Spotify | Apple Music

You might remember Marie Ulven, aka girl in red, from the ninth edition. The young Norwegian heroine was featured with Serotonin. This week, she released another single, You Stupid Bitch.

While the very poppy Serotonin was quite surprising to people familiar with her previous work, You Stupid Bitch feels more like earlier tracks. However, the crisp production continues. Sure, there’s this a very addictive element in You Stupid Bitch that’s usually occupied by mainstream pop songs. Despite this catchiness, the song doesn’t feel like your ordinary radio music.

The new track is a more sugarcoated riot pop-punk, reminiscent of bands like the Spanish outfit Hinds or the Islandic-British trio Dream Wife. Maybe a bit cleaner, but loud and cracking nonetheless.

Danko Jones – Flaunt It

Although I enjoy the more melancholic sounds, there’s this understanding that rock music should be first and foremost entertaining. And no band kicks ass like the Canadian tour de force that is Danko Jones. No whining, no compromises. It’s raw, it’s honest, and it’s putting back the sex in rock’n’roll.

Introducing: Flaunt It. The latest single from Danko Jones’ upcoming album is a blueprint of what made the band big in the first place. A breathless garage rock, a catchy hook. Flaunt It is an explosion of ecstasy, a fist that punches right into the stomach. Bam!

And you instantly know that this song will lead to an apocalyptic escalation once Flaunt It will be played live. Can you smell the beer spilled over the sweat-dripping bodies jumping around?

Iñigo Montoya – Chasseur Chassé

Do we confuse social progress with technological progress? It’s the question that guides Iñigo Montoya, the French experimental outfit named after a fictional character in William Goldman's 1973 novel The Princess Bride.

Chasseur Chassé violently clips and expands into eternal infinity. In between experimental hip-hop, overwhelming ambient and raw spoken word, this track is not a simplistic experience. Chasseur Chassé is dense, soft and forgiving, hard and accusing.

Nevertheless, Iñigo Montoya have created something that sounds unique. It’s a song that pulls you deeper and deeper into its labyrinth of shattering bass and fragile melodies.

All the best,