VARIOUS ARTISTS - Soundz Of The City 2006-2012

Various Artists - Soundz Of The City 2006-2012

22/21/20/19 songs
78:18 minutes
76:32 minutes
73:05 minutes
73:09 minutes

Bielefeld has made headlines lately mostly for their bad football player, as they descended from the first to the third league in only a couple of years. Right now they are back in the second league and things look more brightly again. But there are also other interesting things to experience in the North Rhine-Westphalian town, like for instance Newtone, a music and culture management company which releases every two years stylistically varied compilations called Soundz Of The City, each featuring about twenty bands from Bielefeld. Initiator of this project is Jochen Vahle, also mainman of “kinder rock” band Randale, which I have already frequently reviewed in the past.

Only on the edition from 2006 is one band that made it a little farther: symphonic metal band Xandria. Those who like harder music might also be pleased with Dropout, a crossover metal band. My favourite contribution on this compilation comes from Jaroslaw who remind me a little of Dinosaur Jr. Other notable bands are Area 23 with their professionally crafted emo punk and After One Summer who sound a little like Luxembourgish band Angel At My Table. Other featured genres are electro, country, funk and way too many ballads and singer/songwriter stuff. The weakest moment comes with Skunk’s Flavour who do their name justice. It’s actually quite unbelievable that such idealess rock music was awarded the title “Bielefeld rockt 2005”.

The compilation from 2008 is fortunately harder than its predecessor. Brighton Days let it rock really hard. After One Summer offer powerful emocore. Burn Pilot should appeal to the stoner faction. Krusty Krew show that skate punk is still fun after all these years. One Way Ticket are into traditional hard rock. Wayin Side play a nice mix of punk and metal. But the highlight comes with Dirty Bones who play retro tinged hard rock where especially the dark skinned female vocalist’s voice goes deep under the skin. Unfortunately they have disbanded already. There are of course some forgettable contributions: I especially disliked the three overly mellow folk bands (Filipps Firma, In Search Of A Rose and Kristin Shey with her irritating voice) and the piano ballad by Spitfish.

In 2010, Soundz Of The City has a particularly weak year, as there were just too many ballads and quiet reggae tracks. The harder spectrum was covered by High Fired Water’s emocore and Tarrando’s alternative rock, but you have to look hard to find something really dirty this time. Another noticeable track comes from 15 min of fame who sound quite like Nick Cave. The compilation’s highlight is Banana Butts who remind me of Green Jelly and whose album can be downloaded free of charge on their homepage.

The latest edition from 2012 is fortunately heading into a more favourable direction, thanks to the inclusion of many top notch indie bands like Local Shop, Tarrando, 7 Days Awake and Hans Dampf. Other not too bad bands are Skunk Anansi clone Univerve, Peacock Palace soundalike Jazzy Pie and the two German language bands Krake (not unlike Fast Food Cannibals) and Crystal Pasture (a little like Die Gldenen Zitronen). The quality bands prevail this time, but you should still protect your ears from some truly awkward acts like Franqee (wannbe Söhne Mannheims) and Text (Luxembourg had a similar plague many years ago: T42).

A few bands (Jaroslaw, After One Summer, Tarrando,…) are featured on more than just one compilation. The conclusion is that Bielefeld’s music scene is no better or worse than other towns. Just like everywhere else, there are good and bad bands, and compared to Luxembourg, I dare even say that our small country prevails with a slight advantage, as our bands seem to be of a generally harder persuasion. I still praise the idea of the Soundz Of The City initiative, as it is a good platform for the artists to present themselves, and an inexpensive (8 Euros) way to get acquainted with a local scene… even though the compilation features one band less every two years.

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