Friday, May 27, 2011


There are probably too many bands with "black" as part of their name, so points deducted for the name.
On top of that, there's something willfully obscure about the band. They sing in English, but they're a decidedly German band. I mean, the only way I could get any of their music was either illegally, or via German Itunes or German Amazon. So- unless I'm a German who speaks English, I'm afraid I'd be out of the target demographic- and thus it's very likely that unless you are a German who speaks English, you won't have heard of Blackmail, apart from the criminal act. But such is my dedication that when i was told I should hunt them down, I did. I could not afford to get several of their releases, so I did skip buying the new one, "Anima Now!" which upon streaming it, it does sound pretty, and resonates well. Instead, I threw in my lot with 2008's "Tempo Tempo"- and it's very rewarding. This is fairly gritty Indie Rock, along the lines of latter-day grunge. I could seem them on a bill with the Afghan Whigs, Toadies and Hum. However, the songwriting is stronger than that might indicate. Actually, I can see some Greg Dulli in the songwriting, which is a fairly high compliment. There's also a solid Mod component- shades of the Who and Kinks are present fairly often. Seeing as most folks won't share my enthusiasm for northern European Indie Rock ( Hey, I'm self-aware enough to know it's an obsession of mine. If it was made by folks somewhere north of France, west of the Ukraine, and East of England, I'll give it a shot, pretty much without question) why am I bothering to tell anyone about my purchase of a three year old record by a band readers will not have heard, and most likely won't try to hear? Because I would encourage them to do likewise. Maybe you have a yen for Japanese Oi!, or Mexican Jazz. Follow that muse! Go with it, because the miracle of the Information Age is that it is possible to follow that out. Yes, that is miraculous- consider, I heard of the band, for the first time on Wednesday. Today is very early Saturday. I streamed records on Thursday, and downloaded my selection Friday morning,burned a CD from my Itunes library within 20 minutes, listened to that CD in the Car, and my Ipod during the day- and here we are, with me expressing my joy with the band. Now, imagine it's 1981. First, I would have had to somehow actually visit their part of Germany long enough to hear the band, and figure out where I'd order the record from, assuming that such a thing were possible. Then, I'd type up my review, Xerox my fanzine, maybe offset the printing, and you'd have to randomly find my Zine. That's a pretty amazing change, in only 30 years- as big a change as from horses to planes. It also makes it such a shame that most people simply accept the Top 40 with minor variations, around the globe. There are such treasures out there, that it's almost crime to settle for the Black Eyed Peas, or Doughtry.
So, if you want to hear a German band that mixes Who-ish Power Pop with Afghan Whigs styled high tension grooves, Blackmail are your boys, and I'd hunt them down if I were you. But, more than that, I'd say to follow that format- hunt down whatever strange niche you enjoy- the days of the finite choices are not now.

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