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From Vienna: Richard Kapp & the Gowns

One of the fun things about The Daily Music Break is featuring artists who are a bit lesser known. Indeed, I am going to do this on a more regular basis.

One such act is Richard Kapp & the Gowns. The band has a nice and easy style. Something about Kapps and the music made me think of Ringo, though that comparison may not occur to others.

This is from the band’s website:

Many artists become constrained by the depth of their work, others flourish and grow. Four albums in and Richard Kapp is still falling on the latter side of that camp. This new record, his second with The Gowns, stays true to his piano pop ethos, yet is more revealing than his previous work, an uninhibited and true piece of craft.

Starting point Conditioned Man is less of a character observation in the style of The Kinks, but more of a subtle, non judgemental social comment on modern man, who as Kapp himself put it in an interview has, “slowly become disoriented and politically correct, almost androgynous creature”. As always, the melody leads, yet the lyrics touch on darker themes.

Ghost in the Lime is a nursery rhyme like sojourn with a sinister twist evolving into beautiful pop-suite, almost three songs in one.

Happy Sun is wonderfully delivered pop ditty with beautiful vocals by Agnes Rössler of The Gowns. It’s the kind of intelligent and quirky love song that we don’t hear anymore in the mainstream. The brass that leads the song out is joyous.

Intentionally or not Sly and the Family Stone are referenced on Be Unusual, the albums centre piece, an inventive chunk of funk and soul. ‘Be unusual/ and try to simulate you’re not/ so usual’ sings Kapp over a melody that could have rode on the air right out of San Fran in the sixties. The lyrics reference Kapp’s disdain for labels or genres, if it’s good, he’ll soak it up, an admirable attitude.

Bobobonko must be a band in-joke that nobody else gets, a nod to African music with nonsensical lyrics, it’s a nice folly, if a little self indulgent. (Continue Reading…)

Here is the start of a review of the band at The Sound Out:

Richard Kapp, born 1976, is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, living in the city of Vienna, Austria. He composes, sings and plays his very own quirky but touching music. His music is always fresh and surprising and you never know what to expect. Living between sarcasm, melancholy and hope, he makes use of all kind of styles without forcing them to come together. He is brave enough to use fragments of Jazz, Classical Music fragments or Folk if he thinks that it supports the meaning of a song more than pop can do. Actually, Richard does not give a damn about styles and categories at all. He started to learn piano at the age of six but always refused to learn anything about music theory or scales. That doesn’t stop him from composing and arranging his stuff completely on his own. People have compared Richard’s style to artists like The Divine Comedy, Billy Joel, Rufus Wainwright, Sufjan Stevens or Ben Folds.

The band’s music is available at iTunes and Amazon.


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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.