BPM Pod
Ep.47 - Rookling (Jem Bosatta)

Ep.47 - Rookling (Jem Bosatta)

September 25, 2020

Usually I've got a good description of the people on the podcast. I can scribble something witty, poetic, elegant and the guest (typically) won't do a better job.

Not in the case of Jem, who goes by the moniker of Rookling. Jem is such a poet, such a storyteller, his way written expression goes beyond anything this aging 31-year-old writer can muster.

Having moved to Berlin in 2018, Jem has already gained quite the popularity and following in the local music scene. With a wonderful Joni Mitchel, Fleet Foxes, Leonard Cohen inspired blend of folk-rock tales, Jem is becoming quite the sought after talent. And despite the heavy lyrics, mature reflections and somewhat old-timer tales, he's only 23. (Age is only a number of course, but christ.)

In this episode, Jem and I talk folk inspiration, keeping in touch with fans through tender letters, and what we won't miss about the music industry once things establish some kind of normal.

(And to prove a point about storytelling and how good Jem is at it, I'm going to post his bio below as he wrote it. You'll agree it's much, much better than mine.)

In the autumn of ’18, Rookling swapped the spires and hills of England for the Berlin underground.

He stepped off the plane with a guitar, a suitcase, and a dream: to share his music with the world.

The city sent him reeling. He escaped into his songbook and the solace of storytelling, evoking love, death, and landscapes strange and dear. All the while, the hearth-fire warmth of Fleet Foxes and Nick Drake were helping mould his harmonies.

Each Rookling song blends the solemnity of an altar with the urgency of a church bell. The influence of the greats is unmistakeable: he channels the uncommon poetry of Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen, adding a more archaic thrill of his own. At a tender twenty-three, Rookling is a folk-prophet in the making.

 

Ep.46 - Hans Annellsson

Ep.46 - Hans Annellsson

September 1, 2020

Hans and I first met back in 2014, in Malmö in Sweden. I was nervous ahead of an acoustic gig at a club I had never played - a gig attended by a bunch of my colleagues who did not even know I sang my own music. 

Right before I was due on stage, coming ahead of the band Shuvit, this guy bounded up to me and asked if I could join him in the studio sometime. "It'll be fun," he said, and gave me his card.

I called him the next day. Now, years later, we've exchanged a bunch of musical stories, helped each other write, record and release songs, and become friends. (Though we don't see each other as much as we should these days, what with one thing and another.)

There's no easier way to say it: Hans is somewhat of a musical genius. Unbound by genre, musically knowledgeable like no one I have met before, and incredibly humble to go with it, Hans perhaps hasn't found the fame or fortune he wants or deserves, but by god he has a legacy for sure. 

Singer, songwriter, guitarist, pianist, drummer, producer, mixer, teacher, and one of the biggest Frank Zappa fans you'll find, we talk all that and more in this episode. It's a long journey but a great one. 

For more of Hans' music, go to: http://www.annellssongs.com/

Episode 45 - Reviews of Molly’s Peck, Birgit Jones, Nader Rahy and Phoebe Bridgers

Episode 45 - Reviews of Molly’s Peck, Birgit Jones, Nader Rahy and Phoebe Bridgers

August 14, 2020

While I spend a little more time editing the upcoming episode with Hans Annellsson, here's a quick mention of some of the newest music out there currently from some people you might not have heard of before.

We kick things off with Molly's Peck and their album Hope You Don't Mind. Smooth, soulful, sensitive yet playful, it's certainly worth your time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwDIG-c3rxA

Weinhardt, who are friends of BPM Pod, also released a new track titled Sunset Rails. Summery, indie-rock anthem which will stick in your head, for sure.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpBDPQV-LEA

Thanks to Weinhardt, I was made aware of something called Strock.tv and their series of concerts from Huxley's in Berlin. Weinhardt did a great set there, which led me down the rabbit hole to discover more artists, notably Nader Rahy and Birgit Jones.

Nader Rahy has some kind of cool quality about him which I cannot quite put my finger on. His acoustic stuff in the performance I saw is somewhat like Cat Stevens, albeit modernized. Really quite pleasant stuff.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JU5uJ6Fms_0

And what to say about Birgit Jones except: THEY ARE KICKASS. Heavy gloom-doom-jam-stoner-alternative-heavy-rock from a group of amazing female badasses.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LhHm1eYAiY

Finally, I turn my attention to the wonderful Phoebe Bridgers, who released a track not too long ago from her brilliant album Punisher. The track - I Know The End - is not only one of my faves this year, but of the past decade. It's simultaneously haunting, inspiring, melancholic and hopeful. And the ending is absolutely superb.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJ9-xN6dCW4

Ep.44 - Alex Spencer interview + Haim and My Morning Jacket reviewed

Ep.44 - Alex Spencer interview + Haim and My Morning Jacket reviewed

July 19, 2020

Balancing music at any time in life is tough, let alone with a family, job and (currently) a pandemic to keep in mind. Yet somehow, superheroic singer-songwriter Alex Spencer does it all - forms bands, plays shows, looks after the kids, and remains positive and optimistic through it all. It's pretty inspiring.

Recorded back in March 2020, before the world all went a little crazy, Alex and I sat down to talk about keeping the musical spark alive, harnessing the energy of live music gatherings to form bands, and how one defines oneself in a field of singer-songwriters.

Alex is currently working on an EP, which has been delayed with the coronavirus pandemic. Until then though, I completely recommend checking out her work on Spotify, Bandcamp and more, beginning with her most recent jazz-influenced release Shine.

Also on this episode: Haim and My Morning Jacket

So the reviews aren't exactly random these days; they tend to be of artists I appreciate. This time it's no different.

Haim's latest effort, Women in Music Pt.3, is great and well worth checking out if you need a breezy soundtrack to your summer. Also out now is The Waterfall II from My Morning Jacket - a sort of collection of b-sides to their previous album, The Waterfall, which is just as stunning as the origin.

Plus a word from our correspondents

A new feature on BPM Pod is our lockdown/home correspondents. (Thanks to the Kermode and Mayo Film Review for the idea.)

It's pretty simple: if you're got something to say on anything you've listened to recently, and you can keep your opinions to around 30 seconds or so, send a clip in.

The very first home correspondent is a friend of the show: the fabulous, sassy Chance Bair of the band Heavy Heavy. (Check out their episode here.) He reviews War With the Newts track Refugee. Get ready for a smack in the chops indeed (listen below).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HsMfS6ByqE

Episode 43: Chris Weinhardt (pt. 3 and 4)

Episode 43: Chris Weinhardt (pt. 3 and 4)

July 13, 2020

And so the time has come - we are into the final two parts of the Chris Weinhardt marathon. (Except it has four parts, not 26 miles of audio, so that doesn't really work as a description, but you get what I mean.)

It's been a long journey from lip-syncing, to autotune, to Led Zeppelin, to The Smurfs. Yup, The Smurfs. In the final two parts of the interview - combined here into one 30-minute episode - the Weinhardt weirdness does not let up.

Dishing the Durst

For whatever reason, Limp Bizkit (specifically the antics of Fred Durst) turn up a lot on BPM Pod. But so far the stories have been urban legend, with no one really knowing the guy personally.

Until Chris Weinhardt comes along - the damn hero has met the guy. Yes, the actual Fred Durst. It's quite a claim to fame.

In this episode, we talk about that meeting backstage (which sounds like a terrible family reunion, quite frankly) and what it meant for the music of Weinhardt.

Is the album format dead?

The first topic we tackle in this episode is the album format. There are a bunch of artists still putting out wonderful albums which take you on a journey, but it's an exception rather than a rule.

Today the single is king (the Kingle? Bad joke.) Albums usually flow, but not in an adventurous, journey sense. Instead, they represent a compilation of previous bi-monthly released three-minute singles. Gone are the long cuts, the middle-album jams, and the little secret tracks.

But is this really a bad thing? Has the album died at all? We discuss.

What a country

Final topic we talk about is country music - because we were a few beers down at this point, so why the hell not?

Country music isn't necessarily reflected in the music of Weinhardt, but Chris loves it all the same. We exchange views on the topic and discuss some of the country artists we like today. (Not Ryan Adams, though he does get a mention, albeit in a disdainful way. Prick.)

Revisit the previous parts

Listen below if you missed the previous parts of the interview with Chris Weinhardt. And, of course, don't forget to check him out. There's a new single out too called 'Sunset Rails' which is also below.

Sunset Rails - Weinhardt

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpBDPQV-LEA

Parts 1 and 2

Episode 42: Chris Weinhardt pt.2

Episode 42: Chris Weinhardt pt.2

June 13, 2020

A while back, before the whole coronavirus thing, I went drinking with long-time podcast regular, Chris Weinhardt. As expected, we talked for quite a while about a long list of random topics.

Was it all good? No. Not at all. But some of it was, in between pizza, regular toilet breaks, beer resupplies, and a hell of a lot of podcast mistakes.

Still our wide ranging conversation was fun and enlightening, as I am sure you will agree.

So here's part two of our chat. In this part, we discuss the use of autotune in live performances and if it makes you less of a singer. Plus, we discuss what our first music purchase was, the first music videos that we fell in love with, and the first album we bought.

Check out part 1 here.

Coming up on BPM Pod

We'll be looking at parts 3 and 4 with Chris Weinhardt, plus we'll be hearing from one of my favourite music producers in the entire world, Hans Annellsson. Also Berlin-based singer-songwriter Alex Spencer swings by.

The Pulse reviews: Jason Isbell, Haim, Perfume Genius, Fiona Apple

The Pulse reviews: Jason Isbell, Haim, Perfume Genius, Fiona Apple

May 27, 2020

Hello and welcome to this episode of BPM Pod, the podcast where we get behind people's music.

 

I hope you're doing well out there in these strange times and am glad you're taking the time to listen to the podcast. Thanks for your continued support, love and dedication. Remember if you want to get in touch with me here at BPM Pod, you can do so via the social channels, so definitely check those out. And I'd like to know what music you've enjoyed recently too so, if you want to submit a quick 30 second clip of you reviewing some music you've encountered recently – good or bad – then head over to the Facebook page at BPM Pod and drop me a message.

 

So for now, it's time for another episode of The Pulse here on BPM Pod, where I look at some of the music I've recently encountered – some new, some old, some finished, some not.

 

On this episode, I look at new music from Haim, Perfume Genius, and Fiona Apple. But first, I want to turn my attention to one of my favourite singer-songwriters today, and someone we've heard a bit of before on this podcast, and that is Jason Isbell with his album Reunions.

 

Jason Isbell – Reunions

The fourth album from American alt-country soft-rock blues-rock singer-songwriter Jason Isbell, accompanied here by The 400 Unit. Follows The Nashville Sound – a great album – from 2017.

 

Now I read somewhere that Isbell thinks Reunions is his strongest work yet and that set me up for expecting a lot, so do keep that in mind. But overall, Reunions for me was good, not great.

 

On the plus side, the sound here is different and has a lot more resemblance to a well produced Jackson Browne album, or offcuts of Dire Straits. There's a lot of overdubbing and layering here with some dreamlike effects, stereo landscapes and so on.

 

In terms of the songwriting, it's largely strong, with stand out tracks such as Overseas, Be Afraid and Only Children really stealing the show. A couple for me fall by the wayside, including St Peter's Autograph, Running With Our Eyes Closed, and controversially What've I Done To Help – a track which people seem to love for the Bill Withers slash Walk on the Wild Side blend, but is a track I think is overly long, repetitive and quite weak lyrically.

 

There are excellent performances from the band members, as always. Dave Cobb does brilliantly with the production too. But unlike his previous releases – Southeastern and Something more than free particularly – there's something in Reunions which brings distance and unrelatability. It's not somehow as touching or heartfelt, even though individual elements are excellent, whereas his other releases demand repeat listens to understand all of the emotions underneath.

 

So I overall like the direction Isbell has taken with this album, particularly in terms of the new sounds he has created, but for me it is not his best. Still a very worthy addition to his catalogue, and I recommend fans buy it, and newcomers give it a listen at least.

 

 

Haim

women in Music Part 3

Now this is not strictly a review, as the album has now been delayed until June sometime, due to the current nonsense in the world. But with that said, I want to talk about it because the first handful of tracks from the upcoming album really point to something special.

 

Now I have been a Haim fan for a long time, even when I had people saying they were poppy Fleetwood Mac rip-offs. To me they've always had some kind of sense of humour and gravitas about them, as well as a tonne of talent. And while I still don't fully understand or hear the influences that Haim tout so often – such as Destiny's Child, TLC and so on – I do get the pop sensibilities that they evoke.

 

The tracks that are out there so far are Summer Girl, Now I'm In It, Hallelujah, The Steps, I Know Alone, and Don't Wanna. So there's almost half the album out there right now.

 

For me, the strongest tracks are Don't Wanna and The Steps, but I guess this is because it appeals to my previously mentioned Fleetwood Mac tendencies. Summer Girl was released a while ago now kind of out of the blue and has a definite – again I mention this – Walk On The Wild Side vibe. It's very non-Haim but also very Haim.

 

One track that sounds very non-Haim is I Know Alone, which has a strange but somehow alluring music video of the sisters dancing in a socially distant manner. It's a song that sounds more akin to something from Caroline Polachek, notably the song Doors, and therefore is not so far removed from the Haim sound, but is a little different. Lyrically, I find the Haim track I Know Alone pretty weak, and it's too repetitive for my liking, too generic, and too electronic for my taste. However, a bit like the directional change I praised Jason Isbell for earlier, I like that Haim are trying something new.

 

So the album Women in Music Part 3 is not out for a little while but, based on the tracks so far, I think we're in for an absolute treat from Haim and I cannot wait to get stuck into the album for real.

 

Perfume Genius

Set My Heart on Fire Immediately

Perfume Genius, the moniker of singer-songwriter Mike Hadreas, released this album this week to absolute critical acclaim.

 

I confess: I had never heard of Perfume Genius before. But I guarantee you I will be tracking music from Perfume Genius in the future.

 

I wasn't blown away by this album quite to the gushing same level of reviews from Alex Petridis in The Guardian and so on, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. The tracks here are certainly pop, but of a candied late seventies early eighties vibe, somewhat like Paul Young or Bryan Ferry.

 

Vocally, this album is excellent. There's real longing, hurt and strain across the album, particularly on songs like Just A Touch. The singles – notably On The Floor – have an almost Vampire Weekend vibe to them. And for an artist who writes a lot about addiction, bullying, and sexuality, there's a happiness in many places on this record.

 

A couple of tracks here can't be put into the same synth-driven slick pop bucket as the rest though, notably Describe, which is a kind of noir-ish pop-grunge track, which I actually kind of feel like is what Neil Young was trying to go for with his eighties New Wave slash grunge idea but never really achieved. It's a weird track for sure, and I heard someone describe it as 'gay grunge' which I don't know is an appropriate or correct description, but equally I cannot quite put my finger on how to describe it either.

 

I do think the album is a little long, with 13 tracks stretching the limit a little, although they are all short pop affairs.

 

And yeah, it is a strange album for sure, and won't be at the top of everyone's list. It's not the top of mine either, but I will say that as a throwback to an era which never existed kind of sound, this certainly hits the mark.

 

Fiona Apple

Fetch the Boltcutters

This is one I only just got around too, released back in April. Fiona Apple is someone I've dabbled with in the past, and someone I knew about, but not someone I paid much attention to musically. So when I was faced with album, not knowing all that much about her previous work, you can probably sympathise that this very atypical, bizarre album hit me like a train.

 

And I loved it. Musically, it's like a part-improvised, percussion poetry session. Fiona cries out, scratches, scowls, shouts, and rages on the topics of bullying, sexual assault, confinement, lies, truth, friendship and more. It's angry, yet oddly darkly humorous

 

What's more, this album is largely recorded on the fly and at home, and that could be a criticism but it really isn't. It helps breed the unpredictability, the explosiveness, the sudden changes in rhythm, tempo and keys. I hear shades of Joni Mitchell here, of Suzanne Vega, even of something completely different like J Dilla or Sharon Van Etten. It's a maddening yet exciting mix of music. It's not polished, it's not perfect, and that's what makes it great. There's no messing around here, and for an album about getting the boltcutters and cutting yourself free from whatever prison you've created, the sound does exactly what Fiona preaches – it breaks free of the usual routines and structures and offers something unique, insightful, and certainly divisive. I love it, and would urge you check it out, that's Fiona Apple with Fetch The Boltcutters.

 

 

And that's all for the Pulse for now here on BPM Pod. You can find all of the releases I just mentioned on BPM Pod dot com, and on the social channels (Facebook and Instagram). And you can read more on BPM Pod dot com, and revisit all of the previous episodes there, or on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

 

On the next episode, we'll have part two of the extended podcast with Chris Weinhardt, so stay tuned for that.

 

Stay safe and stay lucky, and thank you for listening to and supporting BPM Pod.

 

 

Episode 40: Weinhardt catch up (part 1)

Episode 40: Weinhardt catch up (part 1)

May 23, 2020

It was way back in episode two - the first 'proper' episode' - where I met Chris Weinhardt, somewhere distant and dark on the outskirts of Berlin. (Okay, Wildau isn't that bad, but it is a little far away. Listen to episode 2 here.)

I was nervous. Despite experience in the radio broadcasting field, it has been a while since I ran the show, doing the interviewing, editing, uploading and so on. I felt the pressure.

Chris? Well he couldn't have been more relaxed or accommodating, offering to collect me from the train station, offering to get me food and drink, and being welcoming and warm to this weird British guy who, with no podcasting experience, wanted to talk to him about music.

Almost two years later, Chris and I are still in touch, albeit not as often as we should be, and our musical journey has taken some wonderful turns. It was with this in mind that Chris asked me to come round for a beer so we could talk more generally about music, the next steps for Weinhardt, and how the adventure looked in 2020.

And then came coronavirus

After recording this episode over beer and pizza back in February 2020, Chris and I had planned to meet again on a more regular basis to transform elements of BPM Pod into a two-man show. We'd talk absolute crap, review music, review gigs and so on - a bit like the Kermode and Mayo Film Review, if you know that.

And then everything stopped.

Within a matter of weeks the restrictions came in. People freaked out, bought far too much toilet paper, and prepared for the end of the world. In my own little bubble, I was freaking out too, especially as my wife and I were having (and did have, I am glad to say) a baby in April.

It all became a bit much and the podcast took a backseat.

The thing is though: Chris and I talked for hours back in the Spring and a lot of it was good. We had such a flowing, different chemistry that it felt odd to simply abandon the episode. At the same time, the conversation was so rambling and weird (thanks alcohol) that it felt strange to put it out as one episode.

Better late than never

So to relive the pre-coronavirus days, to hear the absolute nonsense Chris and I talked about, I'll be releasing all parts of the chat Chris and I had over the coming weeks, starting with part one.

Each part is around 10-20 mins, discussing a bunch of different topics from Fred Durst, to country music, to backing tracks and if you should be able to use them in live performances.

It's nonsensical, it's all a bit stupid, but it's exactly what we need in these trying times. So check out parts one and two above, and stay tuned for more to come.

Reviews: King Buffalo, Heavy Heavy, Gyoza

Reviews: King Buffalo, Heavy Heavy, Gyoza

May 12, 2020

Inspired by the excellent YouTube movie review channel YMS (thanks for all your great work, Adam) I've decided to transform the regular 'The Pulse' feature into a kind of quickie review segment.

This month, I turn my attention to three absolutely awesome releases, all in the stoner-rock heavy-metal field, as I review the latest releases from King Buffalo, Heavy Heavy and Gyoza. Don't miss it. 

Episode 38 - My top 10 Jason Isbell songs

Episode 38 - My top 10 Jason Isbell songs

May 4, 2020

"Have you heard Jason Isbell?" said my record producer, Thomas. I sheepishly said no, trying to hide how I may just have missed someone I should know about. He could tell.

"Oh don't worry - I don't think that many people have heard of him. But you should hear his stuff. I'll start you off with Southeastern."

And there we sat, in Thomas's vinyl-stacked basement studio, and listened to the album all the way through. We did not talk, we did not offer opinions, we sat silently and absorbed what we heard.

I have been hooked ever since.

Isbell's catalogue, while relatively short, is crammed with stunning stories of love, loss, hope, fears and occasionally political standpoints. The former guitarist for the Drive-By Truckers - another band I absolutely adore - Isbell is today one of the most in-demand songwriters out there, having most recently broken more into the mainstream with his contribution to A Star is Born.

Ahead of new album Reunions from Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, I thought I'd give you what are, in my opinion, the top 10 best Jason Isbell songs to date.

Do you agree, disagree, or perhaps you've never heard of Jason Isbell and you want to offer your thoughts on this introduction to him?

Listen to the podcast, read the list below, and let me know.

On the next episode

We'll be going back to a friend of the podcast, Chris Weinhardt, for a dose of pre-lockdown musical fun. Plus we'll have an episode coming soon with singer-songwriter Alex Spencer so stay tuned.

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