JK’s Music Picks

JK's Music Picks

Einstürzende Neubauten — Alles In Allem (2020): First album of Berlin Industrial avantgardists in 12 years. Radical performers of white-noise guitar drones, abrasive vocals, and a percussion section consisting of power tools, broken glass, and various metals since the mid 1980s. On “Alles In allem“, the band continues to experiment with new sounds and textual soundscapes. The verse Wir hatten tausend Ideen / Und alle waren gut (We had a thousand ideas / And all of them were good) from album track Am Landwehrkanal could easily be perceived as the band’s description of itself.

JK's Music Picks

Sorrey — In Full Bloom (2020): Debut of Canadian dream popsters from Prince Edward Island. The strength of the songs is their connective sonic tissue and impressive production that makes it joyful listening experience. In Full Bloom establishes Sorrey as one of the more exciting East coast bands to watch as they continue to cultivate their unique brand of heartfelt pop.

JK's Music Picks

Cleaner From Venus: — Dolly Birds And Spies (2020): Brainchild of musical genius Martin Newell, Cleaners From Venus have recorded some of the finest — and most neglected — British pop/rock of the 1980s. The Cleaners‘ failure to find a wider audience is due at least in part to their unconventional method of distribution…very similar to their contemporaries “the Monochrome Set.” I have followed the Cleaners since the mid 1980s and was always appalled by the poor sound quality of their bedroom recordings.  This album finally has a reasonable sound quality and offers a nice variety of British indie guitar pop.

JK's Music Picks Coco Schumann

Coco Schumann Quartet — Coco Now! (Live) (1999): Exquisite final album by jazz guitarist Coco Schumann with jazz standards on the Trikont label from Munich. Coco was born 1924 in Berlin and has been playing swing since the mid 1930s. Being Jewish, he was arrested and deported to several concentration camps. He had to play on the ramp in Auschwitz to entertain the arriving death candidates. “Coco Now!” is a well recorded album, great to test your earphones. My favourite: The Stripper Blues.

JK's Music Picks Joe Bonamassa

Joe Bonamassa — British Blues Explosion Live (2019): A mighty mighty live album by American Blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa introducing the songs of Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, and Led Zeppelin…of those English dudes that wanted to play the music of the southern States in the mid-1960s UK.

JK's Music Picks the Cure.

The Cure — Anniversary 1978 – 2018 (2019): Fourty years of goth condensed in a concert at Hyde Park, London. A surprising song selection including early songs such as “Grinding Halt” or “A Forest”. OK, it is maybe a bit odd hearing a lean postpone piece such as “10:15 Saturday Night” from a huge stage in fattened widescreen sound. This album comes with a companion “Curaetion”, which is another live album.

JK's Music Picks David Byrne

David Byrne — American Utopia On Broadway [Original Cast Recording] (2019): O my god, I saw this show in Calgary in 2018. The concert ticket came with a CD. The musicians were essentially a superbly choreographed marching band with no fixed drums of keyboard. The British NME said it “may just be the best live show of all time.” The show contains songs of Byrne’s current album “American Utopia” mixed with old Talking Heads favourites that have received a new paint: I Zimbra, Burning Down The House, Slippery People, Born Under Punches, Road To Nowhere, and The Great Curve. A feast! Go and see it on Broadway if you can.

JK's Music Picks

Anne Sophie Mutter and John Williams — Across The Stars (2019): Legendary film composer John Williams conducts a brand-new album of many of his beloved movie themes in stunning new adaptations written especially for his superstar violinist friend and collaborator Anne-Sophie Mutter. A set of incredibly clean recordings, great to test tonal accuracy and treble of an earphone or headphone. Lots of treble treble treble. And the performance is 1A, too.

Ken Burns Country Music JK's Music Picks

Country Music — Original Soundtrack (2019): Subtitled “The Story of America, one song at a time”, this 5 CD box set accompanies Ken Burns’ 8-part documentary showcasing 20th century American country music. Burns’ documentary explores crucial questions––”What is country music?” and “Where did it come from?”––while telling the stories of the fascinating trailblazers who created and shaped it. Much like the music itself,  the film tells unforgettable stories of hardships and joys shared by everyday people. Essential listening.

JK's Music Picks Tiger Lillies

The Tiger Lillies — Devil’s Playground (2019): The Tiger Lillies are celebrating 30 years of their provocative brand of avant-garde punk-cabaret with their symphonic latest album, Devil’s Fairground. Devil’s Fairground takes the listener on a tour through the sordid underbelly of post-soviet Prague, where Jacques’s eye finds poetry in legless drunks, bored hookers and fatherless children. When the Tiger Lillies first began touring Europe in the early ‘90s, Prague was a place filled with exceptional hedonism. The Velvet Revolution had tossed out communism and separated Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia without a drop of blood being spilt, but the lost years between communism and capitalism had left a vacuum and the Tiger Lillies spent their time there cavorting with the artists and freaks. A great album for testing the tonal accuracy (timbre) of your earphones.

JK's Music Picks Midland

Midland — Let It Roll (2019): Honky tonk country combined with California smoothness. This fast-rising Texas trio have raised eyebrows in country music circles for being a little too perfect. The lead singer Mark Wystrach used to be a model; all three band members look like modern-day versions of the country rock pin-up Gram Parsons in their rhinestone-covered suits and stetsons; and they claim to have formed after jamming on a porch in Wyoming before the bassist Cameron Duddy’s wedding.

JK's Music Picks Trio Zimmermann

Trio Zimmermann — Bach Goldberg Variations (2019): Having performed and recorded much of the classical as well as the modern string trio repertoire, Trio Zimmermann began working on the Goldberg Variations several years ago, playing an existing arrangement. But in their own words, the three members – among the leading string players of our time – ‘soon became captivated by the original score and its innumerable beauties and details’. As a result they have jointly prepared a performing version which here receives its first recording. Playing an important part on this disc are also the Trio’s instruments – all by Antonio Stradivarius, and featured in close-up on the cover

JK's Music Picks Rachel Podger

Rachel Podger — Bach Cello Suites (violin transcription): The six Cello Suites, BWV 1007-1012, are suites for unaccompanied cello by Johann Sebastian Bach. They are some of the most frequently performed and recognizable solo compositions ever written for cello. Bach most likely composed them during the period 1717–23, when he served as Kapellmeister in Köthen. The title given on the cover of the Anna Magdalena Bach manuscript was Suites à Violoncello Solo senza Basso (Suites for cello solo without bass).

JK's Music Picks Shunske Sato

Shunske Sato — The Bach Violin Concertos (2019): Exciting new version to few of Bach’s Violin Concertos and Double Concerto. Like in Rachel Podger’s similarly programmed Bach’s solo concertos album, Sato includes an arrangement to the Keyboard Concerto in F Minor for Keyboard and strings, presumably written to either high woodwind or violin and here transcribed to G Minor. Its main attraction is the middle, slow movement, a Largo, aria-like in character and accompanied by quiet pizzicato. It seems that Sato is deeply moved by this movement, and gives it his all. Great recommendation by CEE TEE of drop.com.

JK's Music Picks Roedelius

Roedelius — Works (1968-2005): An overview of the music by Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Krautrocker with Kluster/Cluster and Harmonia, solo avantgardist, cooperator with Brian Eno, Dieter Moebius, Conrad Plank, Alexander Czjzek, Tim Story, Aquarello, Aqueous, even Lloyd Cole…and many more. Absolutely priceless.

JK's music picks john williams

Los Angeles Philharmonic & Gustavo Dudamel — Celebrating John Williams (2019): 2019 release of a live cross section through John Williams’ soundtracks by Venezuelan star conductor Gustavo Dudamel….from Jaws, E.T., Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Superman, Indiana Jones to my perennial favourite Star Wars. I had purchased the original Star Wars soundtrack on vinyl back in 1977 and have loved it since. Dudamel’s renditions of the “Imperial March” and the “Throne Room and Finale” sound fresh and are so well recorded that they serve well as test tracks for audio equipment testing.

JK's Music Picks Ed Palermo

Ed Palermo Big Band — A Lousy Day In Harlem (2019): As the title implies, this big band is a bit on the goofy side. After “The Great Un-American Songbook” (featuring mainly titles of the “British Invasion”…Beatles etc.), these merry men now take on classics like Duke Ellington or contemporaries such as Renee Roseness…or they play their own compositions. Great for testing the 7 kHz area in your earphones…lots of cymbals.

JK's Music Picks Jan Lisiecki

Jan LisieckiMendelssohn (2019): More hometown stuff on Deutsche Grammophon, but this time Calgary. Great piano attack to test your headphones/earphones with. I like Jan’s very dry approach to Mendelssohn.

JK's Music Picks Albrecht Mayer

Albrecht Mayer and Bamberg Symphony Orchestra — Longing for Paradise (2019): Hometown stuff on Deutsche Grammophon. Take my buddy from high school on the oboe and an orchestra with a distinct “Bohemian” sound, performing Strauss, Elgar, Ravel, and Goosens. The result is clean, colourful soundscapes.

JK's Music Picks The Rhythm Method

The Rhythm Method — How Would You Know I was Lonely? (2019): debut by South London band combining 808 State, Madness, Squeeze, Pet Shop Boys, Prefab Sprout, New Order, and the Streets…all in one. Uplifting, fluffy, sweet. And Cliff Difford of Squeeze even sings on the last song. Groovy, Baby!

JK's Music Picks synth pop

Independent British Synth Pop 78-84 (2019): A 4 CD compilation by Cherry Red Records focusing on the electronic side of Post Punk. This era was interesting in that the upcoming synthesizer technology enabled bands to get away from the usual guitar sound: it was prolific and experimental.

JK's Music Picks Jeanines

Jeanines — Jeanines (2019): Brooklyn duo’s debut recapturing the British C86 Jangle-Pop: lush, refreshing, naive, and fast-paced melodies, no song much longer than a minute. In the tradition of the Shop Assistants, Talulah Gosh, Heavenly…and they even cover a Siddeleys song.

JK's Music Picks Shellac

Shellac — The End or Radio (2019): Two authorized Peel Sessions on BBC Radio, one from 1994, and the other from 2004. Shellac were a Chicago band around Steve Albini (Big Black, Rapeman) that operated completely outside the typical machinations of the music industry. 

JK's Music Picks Fiat Lux

Fiat Lux — Hired History Plus [Expanded Edition] (2019): extended re-issue of this Yorkshire band’s sole album. Features their pioneering blend of lush synthesizer textures, acoustic/electric keyboards, and studio effects. 

JK's Music Picks Divine comedy

The Divine Comedy — Office Politics (2019): Brand-new quirky album by Northern Irish indie chamber popsters.

JK's Music Picks Primal Scream,

Primal Scream — Maximum Rock’n’Roll (2019): Between C86 and now these Glaswegians have entertained us from jangly through psychedelic to garage. This 2019 compilation features their singles since 1986.

JK's Music Picks Rammstein

Rammstein — Untitled (2019): First album in 10 years by German scandal rockers. Great production, good for headphones. Includes the marvellous songs/videos “Radio” with Kraftwerk allusions and the very provocative “Deutschland”: “Deutschland, Deutschland über allen…” Hard ‘n’ Heavy!

JK's Music Picks Ezra collective

Ezra Collective — You Can’t Steal My Joy (2019): In the last few years, UK jazz has transitioned from a fringe genre to something being embraced by the mainstream, and at the forefront of this movement is the quintet Ezra Collective. This brand-new release of the London quintet with its multi-racial lineup is a patchwork celebration of jazz’s enduring diversity. The Guardian writes “the record is a joyous listen”. Eschewing elitism.

JK's Music Picks  insecure men

Insecure Men — Insecure Men (2019): The project of Fat White Family guitarist Saul Adamczewski and longtime friend Ben Romans-Hopcraft (frontman of the band Childhood), Britain’s Insecure Men combine truckloads of homespun pop whimsy and pleasantly drippy psych-lite balladry on their self-titled debut. Initially conceived as a vehicle for the more ruminative material he’d been accruing, the album took shape while Adamczewskiwas in upstate New York working with Sean Lennon on their collaborative Moonlandingz project. (Wikipedia).

JK's Music Picks  Sons of Kemet Burn

Sons of Kemet — Burn: Explosive 2013 debut of London band that ignited the current UK jazz revival…which isn’t really a revival but the most exciting musical development in recent years.

JK's Music Picks young fresh fellows

The Young Fresh Fellows — The Man Who Loved Music: Pre-grounge Seattle band and late 1980s college favourites, this 1987 album features their biggest hit (“Amy Grant”). Their witty, rough-edged pop even caught the attraction of legendary BBC DJ John Peel…and therefore mine.

Fat white family JK's Music Picks

Fat White Family — Serfs Up! (2019): Eclectic, rancid, glam rocky, sprawling low fi with earworm qualities, rave synths and a meaty, ‘90s ostinato bass hook. From South London.

JK's Music Picks The Moonlandingz

The Moonlandingz — Interplanetary Class Classics (2019): Gleefully untamed pop by another current South Yorkshire band from Sheffield, intertwined with the International Teachers of Pop (see below).  It’s an inspired mish-mash of Glitter Band tribal drumming, a howling wolf, tuneless saxophone squawking, heavy breathing and at least one narrative about castration; a sort of Cramps-meet-B-52s Hammer horror-rock monster. Guests range from a wailing Yoko Ono to the cowboy from the Village People (on schlock stomper Glory Hole). 

Microdisney JK's Music Picks

Microdisney — The Clock Comes Down the Stairs: this pick including comment was blatantly lifted from Loomis’. I saw Microdisney at Humberside College back in 1987. Aptly branded “iron fist in velvet glove,” these Irishmen paired sophisticated orchestrations with hyper-literate, acerbic lyrics and an outstanding deep-voiced singer. Sonically akin to polished studio pop like Prefab Sprout or Blue Nile, but this has an edgier spirit–like Morrissey or (audioreviews faves) Go-Betweens, there’s an angsty, sardonic feel to these songs. Not for rockers, but a classic of its type; “Begging Bowl” is one of the greatest songs of the 80s. 

Theo Tardo & Blixa Bargeld -- Nerissimo JK's Music Picks

Teho Tardo & Blixa Bargeld — Nerissimo (2019): Blackest collaboration between the singer of Einstürzende Neubauten and an Italian composer with artsy songs – written somewhere between Rome and Berlin.

Bachman-Turner-Overdrive JK's Music Picks

Bachman-Turner-Overdrive — Four Wheel Drive: Pure Canadiana and a guilty pleasure to clean out my ear canals with screaming Gretsch guitars and Garnet amps. The legendary Winnipeg sound serving not only the North American prairies.

arah Tandy -- Infection in the Sentence JK's Music Picks

Sarah Tandy — Infection in the Sentence: Brash, outgoing, fluent new British Jazz from London’s alternative scene. Pianist Sarah has assembled other local luminaries for her infectious debut.

Housemartins London 0 Hull 4 JK's Music Picks

The Housemartins — London 0 Hull 4 (1986): My standard album since 1986 from my neighbours in Hull. Swinging, groovy, jangly agitpop underpinned with 1960s soul, it delivered its strong leftist message from Northern England to the Thatcher government. Take Jesus – Take Marx – Take Hope. It’s still happy hour again.

The Wedding Present -- The Complete Ukrainian John Peel Sessions JK's Music Picks

The Wedding Present — The Complete Ukrainian John Peel Sessions (2019): Remaster of the Weddoes’ other side, this album features all three Ukrainian Peel sessions for BBC radio. A feast of rich Eastern European folklore out of Leeds, England.

Otoboke Beaver JK's Music Picks

Otoboke Beaver — Itekoma Hits (2019): Compilation of weird singles by energetic Kyoto girl punks. Sing songy and pogo ready.

Wolfhounds -- Hands in the Till: The Complete John Peel Sessions JK's Music Picks

Wolfhounds — Hands in the Till: The Complete John Peel Sessions (2019): Recordings for BBC radio by this short-lived C86 band. Angular guitars and cajoling voices.

Weezer -- Weezer (Teal Album) JK's Music Picks

Weezer — Weezer (Teal Album) (2019): Play 1980s covers from ELO through Toto to Michael Jackson. Light and cool.

Sons of Kemet -- Your Queen Is a Reptile JK's Music Picks

Sons of Kemet — Your Queen Is a Reptile (2019): London group around Shabaka Hutchings’ first album on the Impulse Jazz label that made it into the mainstream “Best of” in 2018.

The Scorpions & Saif Abu Bakr -- Jazz, Jazz, Jazz JK's Music Picks

The Scorpions & Saif Abu Bakr — Jazz, Jazz, Jazz (2019): Re-release of this obscure Arab band’s 1980 record in the Habibi Funk series. Wind of Change.

International Teachers of Pop -- International Teachers of Pop JK's Music Picks

International Teachers of Pop — International Teachers of Pop (2019): Poppy debut by yet another Sheffield synth band in the tradition of the Human League with Kraftwerkian undertones.

Idles -- Joy As an Act of Resistance JK's Music Picks

Idles — Joy As an Act of Resistance (2018): Explosive Bristol indie band’s sophomore album. Recommended to me by Rough Trade Store, Notting Hill, London.

Peter Astor -- One For The Ghost JK's Music Picks

Peter Astor — One For The Ghost: Ex-Loft and Weather Prophets guitarist/vocalist remains solo on obscure German label.

Pete Fij & Terry Bickers -- We Are Millionaires JK's Music Picks

Pete Fij & Terry Bickers — We Are Millionaires: The resurrection of the House of Love without Guy Chadwick.

Michael Head & the Red Elastic Band -- Adiós Señor Pussycat JK's Music Picks

Michael Head & the Red Elastic Band — Adiós Señor Pussycat: Same Liverpoodlian out of the Pale Fountains as liked by Loomis.

Gorilla Garage -- The Jesse Hector Story JK's Music Picks

Gorilla Garage — The Jesse Hector Story (2005): Out-of-print 2005 release portraying the career of this British pre-punk genius from the Gatecrashers through Crushed Butler to the Hammersmith Gorillas. Arse cool!

Bryan Ferry -- Bitter-sweet JK's Music Picks

Bryan Ferry — Bitter-sweet (2019): Album of 1920-fied Roxy Music songs around the soundtrack of the Netflix series “Babylon Berlin”.

Boots for Dancing -- The Undisco Kidds JK's Music Picks

Boots for Dancing — The Undisco Kidds (2015): Re-release of this early 1980s gem by Edinburgh post-punkers.

Bauhaus -- The Bela Session JK's Music Picks

Bauhaus — The Bela Session (2019): Re-release of an extended “Bela Lugosi’s dead” 12 inch single. Best bassline for headphone/earphones ever.

Baxter Dury, Delilah Holliday, Etienne de Crécy -- B.E.D. JK's Music Picks

Baxter Dury, Delilah Holliday, Etienne de Crécy — B.E.D. (2019): Son of Pub Rocker Ian Dury dips into French avantgarde.

Holger Czukay -- Cinema JK's Music Picks

Holger Czukay — Cinema (2019): Recent posthumous box set of major works by former Can keyboardist and student of Karlheinz Stockhausen at Musikhochschule Köln after leaving this world in 2018.

Can -- The Singles JK's Music Picks

Can — The Singles (2018): Re-release by the Krautrock band that invented British indie music. Met their first singer Malcolm Mooney visiting his brother-in-law around the corner in my quiet Calgary neighbourhood.

Poptone -- Poptone JK's Music Picks

Poptone — Poptone (2019): Bunch of ex-Bauhaus and ex-Tones-on-Tail members re-recorded their old goth stuff in superb sound quality.

Rustin Man -- Drift Code JK's Music Picks

Rustin Man — Drift Code (2019): Ex-Talk Talk bass player Paul Webb completes sophisticated sophomore album after 16 years in his garden shed.

Bill Pritchard -- Midland Lullabies JK's Music Picks

Bill Pritchard — Midland Lullabies (2019): Staffordshire songwriter genius and 1980s U.K. indie star delivers another stellar record on an obscure German label.

Kinky Friedman -- Circus of Life JK's Music Picks

Kinky Friedman — Circus of Life (2019): Mischievous ex-Texas Jewboy with yet another blasphemic country record. “If you elect me the first Jewish governor of the state of Texas, I’ll reduce the speed limit to 54.95.”

Pharao Overlord -- Zero JK's Music Picks

Pharao Overlord — Zero: (2019) Strange German psych ground grooves by musicians around Faust’s HJ Irmler and Antti Boman of Finnish death metallers Demilic.

Vikingur Ólafsson -- Johann Sebastian Bach JK's Music Picks

Vikingur Ólafsson — Johann Sebastian Bach (2019): Award-winning Icelandic pianist Vikingur Ólafsson offers a cross section through Johnny Bach’s keyboard works. Bach makes me happy as he always has at least three simultaneous tunes on the go. “Everything is there in Johann Sebastian’s music: architectural perfection and profound emotion,” says Ólafsson.

Joe Strummer -- 101 JK's Music Picks

Joe Strummer — 101 (2018): 32-track collection of remastered goodness spanning Joe’s career from his pub rock days through the Clash to the Mescaleros. Happened to be present at the release party in London’s Rough-Trade Store last September…and 16 other people.

Joe Strummer -- 101: Album release party JK's Music Picks
Rough Trade store in Notting Hill, London, just before Joe Strummer’s album release party.

Joe Strummer -- 101: Album release party: Lucinda Tait, Robert Gordon McHarg III. JK's Music Picks
Album compilers Robert Gordon McHarg III and Joe’s widow Lucinda Tait watch the laudatio of Joe Strummer’s career.


  • JK's Music Picks 1

    Head-Fier since 2016. He has been known as “Otto Motor” to Head-Fiers, as “Dr. Schweinsgruber” to audiobudget.com users and Youtubers, and as “Brause” to Super Best Audio Friends and the Headphone Community. - For the purpose of confusion, he decided to pose under his real name Jürgen Kraus (“JK”) from now on. - This is a hobby. In “real” life, Jürgen is a professional geologist operating his own petroleum-exploration consulting company Franconia Geoscience Ltd. (see ad in the footer) based in Calgary, Canada. He holds German and Canadian passports. Jürgen had a classical music education from childhood through high school in Germany and he has been following popular music developments since the late 1970s. His understanding of arts and crafts was influenced by Bauhaus pragmatism: “less is more” and “form follows function”.