Oh noes! You don’t know them? Let me fix that, like, now!
I’m surprised by how many of my friends in the States have never heard of this sassy, irreverent and ballsy, sweet and dark but ever-playful Norwegian girl-band, because, seriously? They are the best thing ever. (A special thanks to my friend Barbara in Bath who introduced them to me). Their style is eclectic, a bit folksy, a bit pop, a bit gypsy, a bit rock… but always its very own Katzenjammerishy magical thing.
Katzenjammer is bursting with all-things-life and when you listen to them, you cannot help but sing, grin and tap, if not full out stomp, your goddam feet! I dare you not to. One reviewer wrote, and I quote(!): “Prepare to orgasm from your ears.”
Their band name is German (means “cat-wail” or “cat cry”), they sing in English, and they are four young women. Their song lyrics are a breath –nay, make that a gust!– of fresh air.
They play, oh, something like eleventy seven instruments (some of which they discovered and saved from a dusty demise in one of the girls’ attics), including accordion, contrabass balalaika (a 3-stringed, big-ass Russian instrument), guitar, zither, melodica, ukulele, trumpet, banjo, and, as far as I can tell, pretty much anything they can shake, rattle, roll, strum or blow air into. They constantly switch up who plays what instrument and, also, who sings lead.
I could not love them more. They may be new(ish) to these parts of the world, but I’ve got them singing in my heart right next to Leonard Cohen, and if you know me at all, that’s saying something. And no, their style does not at all remind of Leonard Cohen, except in ballsy, open-hearted, say-it-like-it-is-ness.
Oh yes! It’s one of my favorite qualities in all the world. If you say it like it is and you have things to say, why, it is pretty much a guarantee that I will like you, and, if then you set your say-it-like-it-is-ness to music or verse or story? Why, for certain I will crush on you. And for sure I am crushing on Katzenjammer: expressive and, often, dramatically so, but never in a put-on kind of way.
Also, be prepared to be inspired by how comfortable they are moving in and being at home in their bodies and expressing themselves in a bodily way, just as their bodies are: curvy, straight, tall, short, light, dark, small medium or large. In a culture where women on magazine covers all look pretty much a yawn-inducing shade of same? Katzenjammer zings!
So, you’ve never heard them? I’m about to be bossy, ready? Go! Now! Hear!
From their second album, “A Kiss Before You Go,” not yet available here in the States, but, PleaseGod!, any day now, I Will Dance (When I Walk Away):
From their debut album, “Le Pop,” A Bar in Amsterdam:
And for irreverent, ballsy and bursting with life-juice, Hey Ho on the Devil’s Back is a hands-down win in all categories:
Sometimes listening to Katzenjammer makes me sad. Not while listening, but after, and it’s not them, but me. It’s got something to do with an expressive and playful part of me that is tired to death of being stuffed into and made to be quiet in a dusty closet. It wants to say and sing all there is to say and sing exactly as it is.
So yes, I’m adding Katzenjammer to my list of crushes, right alongside Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Rufus Wainwright and the Indigo Girls, sharing a scene with Johnny Depp and Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep, clinking glasses with directors Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Suzanne Bier, the Coen Brothers, the Wachowski Brothers, and street artist Shepard Fairey, exchanging verses and stories with Paul Durcan, J.K. Rowling, Billy Collins, Mary Oliver, Pablo Neruda and T.S. Eliot…
Dear Katzenjammer, Welcome to my crush list! You are in fantastic company. xo Heidi
P.S. You can find Katzenjammer on Facebook. It’s a fun and hopping page. They are very generous with their postings.