Sportfreunde Stiller

Sportfreunde Stiller (named after a relative, Hans Stiller) have a uniquely German take on a sound somewhat akin to early Blur by way of a slowed down version of Feeder but this 3-piece from Munich are no way second-rate Britpop clones despite their increasing tendency to look like Supergrass. I haven’t got their first album, ‘So Wie Einst Real Madrid’ (they are football nuts apparently), but if their second is anything to go by the missing CD will be arriving on my doormat soon by way of Amazon.de.

Lyrically you’re not going to get anything dark, gloomy or, perish the thought, along the lines of a Rammstein terror-fest. Instead, the Freunde offer up a bunch of big, soaring warm-hearted tunes with indie-style guitar backed up by sparing use of strings, trumpets and, er, a sort of squeaky instrument I can’t quite place (sort of redolent of that plastic mouthpiece used by a seventies guy whose name I also can’t remember and it’s really bugging me now!) all done without sounding formulaic. Make no mistake, the Freunde definitely have their own sound and singer Peter Balboa’s voice is infectiously different enough to grow on you over time.

stiller_dgs.jpg4 starsDie Gute Seite

(The Good Side, 100% native)

Catchy 2nd album and full of vigour. Standout tracks: ‘Ein Kompliment’, ‘Auf Der Guten Seite’ (On the Good Side), ‘Komm Schon’ (Come on).

The 2nd album, Die Gute Seite, is the better of the two listed here with ballsy blasters ‘Ein Kompliment’ and ‘Komm Schon’ driving the whole disc to a great conclusion. Burli (South German dialect for something akin to ‘our kid’) is a pretty inoffensive example of the indie genre, however, at times the lads seem to be going through the motions as on ‘1. Wahl’ (1st choice) which is shouty, dull and generally lacking in imagination. ‘Im Namen Der Freundschaft’ (In the name of friendship) is a fun-bundle reminiscent of a late 90’s Boo Radleys trumpet fest and ‘Ich Roque’ is a strangely addictive with its Strokes’-type vocals and bizarre almost Glasgwegian-accented stop-time chorus.

stiller_burli.jpg2 starsBurli

(100% native)

3rd offering from the band. Not without its highlights but lacks the zip of DGS – a bit sluggish, drones on in places. Standout tracks : ‘Was Ich Behaupten Kann’ (What I Know For Sure), ‘Ich Roque’.

18/09/05 Stiller update . . caught the Bavarians on Friday last in a dingy basement on Oxford St. An informal, good natured gig with lots of banter between the 150-odd audience and band, all nicely finished off with a Peter Balboa 5-yard crowd surf during which the Stiller frontman was pushed a tad too close to the ceiling which, as far as I could see, was well encrusted with the filth of a zillion sweaty nights. Still, a good night worth it just for hearing ‘Siehst du Das Genauso?’ live plus I finally find out what that weirdo instrument is the Stiller use to such great effect – it’s a sort of hand-held clavier slung low like a guitar. This is one Munich uprising I hope goes from strength to strength.

b000fdfyey01_ss500_sclzzzzzzz_.jpg3 starsYou Have to Win Zweikampf

(95% native)

11 singalong anthems to Stiller’s great love: Fuβball. Released in ’06 it was a massive ‘Come on!’ for the German nation which the band manage to pull off with some panache, results in the World Cup notwithstanding. Standout tracks: ‘Eine Liebe, die nie Endet’ (A Never Ending Love), ‘Mag Tischtennis’ (Enjoy Tabletennis).

‘You Have to Win . . ‘ is for purists and German footy fans only. The Stiller try to do for the German football team what Baddiel and Skinner did for England back in Euro ’96. As with ‘Three Lions’ the desired effect never materialised on the pitch, but it has left a great musical legacy. Most of the songs are clearly meant to be played in a bierhalle with glowing TV screens and an ecstatic Klinsmann for company although ‘Eine Liebe, . . .’ is actually quite touching . . . until you remember they’re singing about a spherical hunk of leather.

19/2/07: Having listened to Burli for over a year now I am thoroughly ashamed to say I only gave it 2 stars. Believe me I’ve looked at that poxy rating several times and the temptations to bump it to four or maybe five is eating away at me but a good reviewer sticks by his decisions right? I’ll just have to admit that I was wrong but I guess by adding this missive I am effectively overwriting the two stars shown above right? Sod it . . it’s a four . . defo. And for standout track add the unbelievably out-freekin-standing ‘Siehst du Das Genauso?’ (Do you See it That Way?). It’s astounding. What was I thinking?

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