Monday, January 19, 2009

Alles glänzt, so schön neu

When I started my Top 10 Albums of 2008 list, I didn't expect it to take the better part of a month to finish. If you note the dates on each of the entries, I started off strong, posting one a day until Christmas. But then a number of things happened that derailed me from writing. Mostly it was playing Wii at Jess' house, but family gatherings, church, other writing projects, and online Scrabble also got in the way and it ended up taking a bit longer than I had expected to drill through ten measly music reviews.

But before it was completely finished, I thought I should make an addendum to the whole thing. A pretty big one, actually. You see, I know that I missed quite a few excellent albums. I knew that from the start. I completely ignored TV on the Radio's Dear Science and the newly-reunited B-52's Funplex, but that was for fairness' sake. I hadn't listened to those albums much during the year. Neither of them was even in my iTunes, so to call them my Top Albums of the Year seemed like it would have been a little cheap. Then I stumbled onto Seattle's Fleet Foxes and their sophomore album Sun Giant in the midst of my list making, and though I liked it quite a bit, I again could not legitimize putting it on the list, because I'd only found it by noticing it on other End of the Year Lists.

But as much as it broke my heart to have to skip over these three excellent albums in particular, I knew it was the right thing to do. At least, that's how I felt until this week, when I found the single most banginest track that I had heard all year--maybe even all my life: a strangely dark and orchestral dancehall banger complete with a drum corps and a slick bit of rapping done in--wait for it--German. Yes, Berlin's Peter Fox, the self-proclaimed "wrecking ball of the German scene" (whatever the hell that is supposed to mean, other than stating complete badassery beyond the point of sense or grammar) and former frontman of the world-renowned German reggae group Seeed (I know how ridiculous that sounds--my fingers could barely handle typing it), laid out one smooth piece of plastic with his 2008 release, Stadtaffe (literally, "city monkey").

The album as a whole is solid, and becomes even more so if you can understand any of what he is singing about, but the star of the tracklisting is its first single and lead track, the bombastic "Alles Neu" that turned me on to Fox only a few days ago. The music on its own makes me want to alternately shake what my mother gave me and destroy everything in the room. The lyrics, when translated, then only add to that passion for destruction. The very first line of the song is "Ich verbrenn mein Studio, schnupfe die Asche wie Koks," or, for the Yanks in the house: "I burn down my studio and sniff the ashes like coke." Mr. Fox then goes on to murder his goldfish and blow up his hang-out, all in an attempt to get rid of his old life and start anew. From there, he continues, a bit tongue-in-cheek, about all of his plans. But the chorus actually is quite a mantra to live by:

Alles glänzt, so schön neu
Wenns dir nicht gefällt, mach neu


Everything shines like brand new
If you don't something, make it new

Without sounding too cheesy, I feel like it's a perfect song to start a new year on. If there is some grand scheme of things, maybe this is supposed to be my theme song for 2009 instead of one of my best of 2008. It's certainly going to be stuck in my head for the next twelve months anyway. And as for the video... just, wow. I'd try to explain the total and complete ass-kicking-ness of it, but it would take me days. It's better to just watch.

And for the video with both German and English subtitles, click here.

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