Friday, April 26, 2013

If Mars Needs Wimmin...

Left to right: Marianne, Anna Marit, Turid and Solveig: my beloved Katzenjammers

… then Katzenjammer has the Healing Prescription. These bright, dynamic ladies from Norway (who play something like 27 instruments between them) have the Gift and the Power to Make People Happy — and with their complex, sparkling music and their high-energy performances they have been raising spirits in Europe since 2005. I would be a Horrible Person if I did not try to spread their goodness as far and as wide as I possibly can.

Not to be confused with a band named Katzenjammer Klub, this Fab Four got together while attending Music School — the curriculum bored them and they wanted to do more interesting things. On principle I love people who find the mass education system tedious because they’re too clever and talented for it, and I can well imagine these gals giving the instructors a run for their money! There are lots of "eccentric" bands out there, some of them quite excellent, but none of them bring this level of musicianship and plain JOY to their work. In many ways they remind me of a certain other Fab Four from Liverpool, not because their music is similar (it isn't) but because they are unique, they have Magic in their bones and blood, they were made for this, and they arrive at just the right time in history.

I first “discovered” them while scouring the internet for something else. It was an accident of the happiest kind. I no longer remember what I was actually searching for that day; the revelation of Katzenjammer has burned it out of my head. 

They don’t just play songs. They create a world that surrounds them and encompasses all who listen to them and get the message. Imagine stepping into an intimate Max Fleisher cartoon or a Circus that’s brash, majestic, wistful, romantic and vibrant all at the same time. That’s Katzenjammer. Pressing the "play" button on their music is just like pressing a "Happy" button. If you don’t like them, you and I can’t be friends. 

They share lead vocal duties in the same way that they share instruments. At some point during the act, every one of them does duty on the drums and the keyboards; Marianne and Turid take turns at a gigantic cat-faced balalaika; when Solveig isn’t playing trumpet she plays guitar just as well; Anne Marit is often seen playing harmonica, ukelele and xylophone all at the same time. In the vocal department, all four of them are marvelous and bring different qualities to the table. Anne Marit is the serious one, Turid is the one with attitude, Marianne is all woman but can laugh and sing with the enthusiasms and expression of a child; Solveig sings like a long Scandinavian night. Wistful is something they all do, more or less. If you listen to them with an open heart, their harmonies will make your spine tingle. 

With two studio albums and a live album (the latter of which is scarce and pricey here in the States; you’re best off watching the many videos that have been posted of and by them on YouTube), these girls are ready to take the world by storm. Their first album, Le Pop, is a great place to start, but I can practically guarantee that you won’t want to stop there. Their second album, A Kiss Before You Go, is still available only as an import (this is just a sin) — so you’ll want to go the way of the MP3 download, just $7.99 for 45 minutes of Bliss — how can you go wrong? I hope they’re working on a third! I can’t get enough of them.

A couple of the Kazenjammers are doing work outside the group, especially Marianne, who works solo under the name Dandylion and whose EP Images Under Construction - Part Three is both excellent and different from her work with the group. Anything these girls do, separately or together, is worth listening to, but I really hope against hope that they can hold it together in the way that lots of groups can’t. They are strong individuals, but they are strongest together. It would be a tragedy if these girls broke up before they achieved the Total World Domination that they deserve.

But don't take my word for it. Watch and learn:

I hope they come to the states soon! Hands down, they are the best musical "discovery" I've made in literally decades, and I don't say that to put down any of the other talents out there whose work I admire. Thank you, Katzenjammer gals! Keep on!

— Freder

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