Here’s the original Dutch review (http://www.realrootscafe.com/2013/05/17/markus-rill-and-the-troublemakers-my-rocket-ship)
- and here’s my translation with Babelfish help.
Markus Rill is a German singer-songwriter (Frankfurt, 1970) who now delivers his tenth CD since 1997. He received his musical education (like many others) in Austin, Texas, where he lived in the 90ies as an English student. He was particularly struck by the music of Townes van Zandt and Guy Clark and decided to pursue songwriting himself. Here’s an interesting detail: Before he went to Austin, Markus was a multiple German wrestling champion.
Markus (guitar, harmonica, vocals) brings us a nice mix of rock, blues, folk and country with his band, The Troublemakers (guitar / banjo / mandolin, piano / organ / melodica / glockenspiel, bass, drums). There is outside help on fiddle, mandolin, dobro, various guitars and backing vocals. All fourteen songs on the CD are written by Rill, three of them with co-writers, among them Annika Fehling (who also sings on a few songs). The overall feel is that of an eclectic, surprisingly pleasant country-rock CD with startling originality. Rill’s gritty voice fits these songs very well and the musical delivery is excellent. Rill’s strong lyrics deal with the human desire to make sense of life or live meaningfully, an effort in which, unsurprisingly, trial and error occur.
‘My Rocket Ship’ is a zinger of an album by a German singer-songwriter whose English is flawless (not surprising after his studies!) and whose songwriting is outstanding. He leaves many Austin artists far behind him.
There’s a new German magazine dedicated to Roots- & Americana music named Rookie. It’s written & produced by Rolling Stone writers & editors. Jörg Feyer has long been my favorite German writer on all things Americana and he wrote a lovely, perceptive review of My Rocket Ship.
The toys I used at analoghaus, some are mine, some are Tom’s
last week I spent a couple days recording some solo songs at Tom Ripphahn’s analoghaus studio in Karben. I had a whole bunch of songs that I strongly feel are good songs worth recording. However, it’s clearly too soon to record a full-band follow-up to My Rocket Ship a few months after the album’s release date. I was also intrigued to find out what I could do on my own or how those songs might sound as a duo recording utilizing Tom Ripphahn’s many talents on guitar, mandolin, harmonium, piano, bass or drums.
In two and a half studio days I laid down solo versions of 14 songs. I played acoustic guitar, dobro, banjo, electric guitar & harmonica.
It’s good stuff, I like how the rough mixes sound. However, I’m a little unsure how to proceed.
Most of the songs sound good in these very sparse versions. Some of them could use an overdub or two.
Two thoughts about that:
1. It’s very hard to rein myself in on the overdub front. It’s very tempting to try this or try that but I’d still like the album to feel sparse. (It needs to feel different than a band album or else what would be the point of it.)
2. It almost feels like I’d be betraying the Troublemakers if I finished this record without their contributions. The original plan was to just have Tom & me playing on these recordings but the guys are my good friends and I love their playing so in a way it would feel unnatural not to ask them to play on it.
I’ll do some more thinking on this in the next few days.
I admit that I’m particularly curious about reviews from native speakers. Here’s a good one from NetRhythms in the UK.
Markus Rill & The Troublemakers - My Rocket Ship (Blue Rose)
The second album in as many years from the German singer-songwriter continues to establish his credentials as an honorary Austinite, again evoking comparisons to Steve Earle. Although you’ll hear some dark Appalachian tones swirling around the loneliness, love and liquor themed One Fix Or Another and When The Night Calls filters in doo wop and Southern soul, he’s once more painting from a very Texan pallette. Brushtrokes range from the throaty, bluesy drawls like Edge Of Nothing and the funky boneyard stomp of Way Down to dusty, reflective troubadour numbers like the title track’s ode to his guitar and the poignant The Facts Of My Life, the lyrics based on the tweets of Lauara Kinney, a 31-year-old infant victim of viral meningitis born with club feet who’s never grown beyond 4’9” as opposed to the Marvel universe Wolverine clone.
There’s a streak of sentimentality evident on Far Too Long Too Far, a jaunty brushed snare and slide guitar road song letter home to his daughter while the strive-harder For The Stars casts a romantic optimist light, but there’s never anything less than honest emotions. Which is why the album’s closing track, The Late Great TvZ, a part spoken reminiscence of and homage to Townes Van Zandt backdropped by just acoustic guitar and lap steel, comes from the heart without any hint of cheese or corn. “God believes in me”, he sings on his award-winning ‘gospel’ song. You should share the faith.
Mike Davies, April 2013
Expuls, Kulturmagazin für die Oberpfalz, April/Mai 2013
Markus Rill & The Troublemakers - My Rocket Ship (Blue Rose)
Es ist unglaublich: Markus Rill kommt wirklich aus Würzburg und nicht aus einem staubigen Kaff irgendwo in Texas. Leider muss man fast sagen, dann wer kauft einem Deutschen denn dieses tief verinnerlichte Americana-Gefühl ab. Rill hat schon immer passable bis gute Platten gemacht, hier aber liegt sein Meisterstück vor. Mit rauer, intensiver Raspelstimme intoniert er Country-Rock, Folk-Noir, Southern Rock, Bluegrass, Muscle Shoals Soul, Rock´n´Roll und Blues, spielt auf einer weiten Klaviatur der Gefühle, beherrscht Balladen bald besser als stürmische Rocker, badet in allen Schattierungen des Gitarren-Sounds und wird hiermit der John Cougar Mellencamp „Pour Le Merit “ am Bande verliehen. Der Dirk Nowitzki des Americana.
5 von 5 Sternen
And here’s a translation with the help of some Babelfish.
Markus Rill & The Troublemakers - My Rocket Ship
(Blue Rose Records)
As a young talented musician Markus Rill lived in Austin, Tx. for a while soaking up the music scene. He later played at the Bluebird Café in Nashville and SXSW in Austin. But apart from these brief stints, it is Germany that is his home. He didn’t grow up with Highway 61, Interstate 10, diners and honkytonks but rather with the Autobahn, currywurst, weissbier and Gasthaus. And with towns on the prairie called Wurzburg, Schweinfurt, Heilbronn and Waldkirchen. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.
The 42-year-old Rill has eight albums under his belt. He makes authentic, credible Americana music based on his own life.
”To become an interesting artist you have to be yourself. I no longer write variants of Steve Earle songs. I have my own stories to tell.”
Still, when you listen Markus Rill & The Troublemakers some American Americana artists come to mind, simply because Rill plays in the same league as Chris Knight, Jud Newcomb, Jon Dee Graham, Kevin Gordon and Matthew Grimm (ex-Hang Dogs).
He demonstrates wonderful melodic fluency in songs like “When the Night Calls”, “For the Stars” and “Far Too Long Too Far”, creates a great atmosphere in “Edge of Nothing” and a calmer one in »My Rocket Ship”. In “One Fix Or Another« he contemplates the consequences and different points of view after a separation:
It’s been a while since I’ve been married
been a while since I’ve been dry
She says she left cause of my drinkin ‘
In says I drink Because she left behind Me
Album closer »The Late Great TVZ« is not a tribute to [Swedish TV channel] Z-TV but to his idol Townes Van Zandt whom Rill met backstage just weeks before he passed away. A meeting that still inspires Markus Rill in his artistry despite or because of the fragile shape van Zandt was in.
Würzburg/Germany, April 9, 2013
plenty of news and since I’m an organized German, I’m breaking the newsletter down into three parts.
1. I’m very happy that No Depression - the bible for all things alt.country - have taken note of me for the first time. They’re calling My Rocket Ship “my best work to date” and flatter me with saying “Rill shows great depth as a songwriter, bandleader and producer”.
Country.de and Frizz magazine have written nice portraits, and other sites & magazines have chimed in about the album. Read all the reviews in
the review section of my website
2. I took the band out on a road trip to Berlin and Lauchhammer. We had an excellent time. Read our little tour diary in the blog and enjoy this video from the Bassy Club in Berlin. There may be another video or two up shortly.
3. There’s a few solo shows coming up that I’m really stoked about. On April 30 and May 1 I’ll be recording some solo stuff at Tom Ripphahn’s analoghaus studio. This may result in a website-only EP or in something more - we’ll see. But I’ll be road-testing some of the songs I plan to record in the upcoming gigs.
This Sunday, April 14, I’ll be at Die Salongesellschaft, a beautiful venue in Eltville-Martinsthal (near Wiesbaden). Your excellent hostesses would love you to make a reservation via www.diesalongesellschaft.de because they’ll be preparing a lovely supper for you. Vanessa Novak will open.
On Tuesday, April 16, I’ll be participating in intriguing event at Ausstellungshalle in Frankfurt/M. There’ll be art, literature, politics & music (- that’s my part): More info at http://deinlandmeinland.com/2012/05/23/uber-uns/
Then there’ll follow a string of gigs with my friend Eva Hillered from Sweden. Eva and I have co-written Girl Of Many Secrets and are looking forward to sharing some songs & shows.
We’ll be playing together on Wednesday, April 17, at Brot & Spiele in Schweinfurt, on Thursday, April 18, at Wunschlos glücklich in Würzburg, and on Saturday, April 20, at Songs auf dem Boot in Berlin hosted by Claudia Nentwich.
Back from Berlin I’ll be playing a hometown show on Thursday, April 25, in beautiful Aschaffenburg at the Erthaltheater. Very much looking forward to this!
The May preview:
May 15: Songwriter Night with Anny Celsi at Wunschlos glücklich, Würzburg.
May 16: Pädagog, Darmstadt with Vanessa Novak
May 17: Brückenkopf, Hanau. Vanessa Novak opens.
May 22: K4, Nürnberg, acoustic Troublemaker trio opening for I See Hawks In L.A.
See you around,
The Troublemakers had a great run this last weekend playing gigs in Uettingen, Berlin & Lauchhammer. On Sunday I played a solo gig at the opening of the Rock & HiFi Museum in Marksuhl/Thüringen.
A short recap.
Since regular Troublemakers drummer Aggi couldn’t make the trip, my longtime friend Leonardo von Papp took his place for these gigs. We had two afternoons of rehearsing and a warmup gig planned before our trip East.
In early March our planned warmup gig at Holzwurm in Marktheidenfeld fell through. The city has a ruling that there be no festivities the day before Good Friday.
So with the help of our friends in Lick And A Promise we arranged a private party in Uettingen on short notice. About a 120 people showed up, we played a rocking 90-minute set and things went well. Leonardo was very well-prepared. Unfortunately, we got the news that our keyboard player Jan was in bed with a fever and would not be able to play the next two shows with us.
On Friday we set off to Berlin for our gig at Bassy’s. Berlin is the only place in Germany that allows live music on Good Friday and Bassy’s is one of Berlin’s coolest venues - so we were happy to snatch that gig. It really is a very cool venue but Berlin being Berlin we were supposed to start very late - 10 pm.
After soundcheck the manager told us to start a little later, maybe 11 pm, then the sound guy Javier said “better start even later” and in the end we had to put our foot down to go on at 11.30.
We had a good crowd, a whole bunch of people were there to see us. Some had brought CDs to sign, one good man had even come all the way from Greece to catch our show (I’m not kidding). Via twitter Ruud had requested that we play Sarah Stein and even though it was not the most natural song to play at that venue, it went over well.
We had a good time and ended our show with the 1 pm curfew.
One of the BossHoss guys came in and caught the tail end of our show.
My only problem on an otherwise very enjoyable night: My pretty expensive and pretty new Fishman Aura Spectrum DI thingy started acting up. No signal.
Leonardo von Papp, our sub drummer
We stayed overnight at the Bassy Club’s artist apartment, Leonardo - since he lives in Berlin - stayed with his family.
Since Lauchhammer is less than two hours away from Berlin, we had a little time to explore Berlin on Saturday morning. Felix & Chris explored, I stayed in and read some in the enjoyable new Tom Wolfe novel Back To Blood. Then I went out and realized I was very close to my favorite English bookstore in Berlin so I went there and spent some money.
And onwards to Lauchhammer near Dresden. I’d been to Real Music twice before in 2005/2006. One time I opened solo for Chris Knight, the other time I brought my then-band, The Gunslingers.
Since then, Real Music have moved to a different venue that they have decorated and built beautifully. With us on the bill was Elizabeth Lee from Austin, Tx. and her Italian band, Cozmic Mojo. Sitting in on drums in her band was booker Christian Böhm, a pleasant surprise. He’s a good guy, I’ve met him a few times.
We went on first and went over very well. We changed up the set a little, bringing Natascha to Lauchhammer in exchange for Sarah Stein and exchanged a few more songs but again, Leonardo played like a champ and we did our best to keep up.
Elizabeth Lee was very complimentary about our set and invited Chris & me to join them on Dead Flowers (which went very well) and I Just Want To Make Love To You (which we weaseled our way through).
A very fun night. Lots of folks had brought CDs for me to sign, everybody was very complimentary. Felt very good.
The boys left early on Sunday to spend Easter Sunday with their families. I drove three hours to Marksuhl in Thüringen (where my Dad now lives) to play at the opening of the local Rock & HiFi museum.
The place is beautiful with lots of cool memorabilia, mostly great Stones stuff but also Traveling Wilburys stuff, an original autograph of all four Beatles and plenty of other really nice things.
I played two solo sets for maybe 40 invited guests. I enjoyed playing a few songs I hadn’t done the last three nights and having a very quiet, attentive audience. Surprisingly, I sold more CDs to those 40 people than I did the entire three previous nights combined in which we had played for maybe 450 to 500 people in total. Weird how that goes.
At any rate, that was a very successful and fun trip. I would love to be able to bring the band up north for some shows in Hamburg, Bremen, maybe Hannover. Would also love to play some dates out west in the Cologne/Dortmund/Ruhrgebiet area. Contact me if you want to book us, ok?
April will bring a whole bunch of solo & duo gigs. Should be fun!
Ein interessantes, etwas anderes Kurzporträt im Frizz Magazin:
Eine Rezension von My Rocket Ship in der Wasser-Prawda