Silke Berlinn - 'Retropunk'

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

There isn’t a whole lot of independent punk music nowadays. What does exist, though, is typically experimental or niche. Fear not, fellow music lovers. The superb punk sound we all know and love is back. In this edition of Independent Spotlight, we’re going to check out ‘Retropunk’ a new record from the punk goddess Silke Berlinn.

‘Retropunk’ is a new record from Silke Berlinn and the Addictions. The record, as described by Berlinn’s camp, picks up where the Velvet Underground left off. That’s a pretty tall order, considering the Velvet Underground is the granddaddy of all alternative and punk music. It’s an order that Berlinn seems determined to fill, though, and she actually pulls it off surprisingly well.

Berlinn’s vocal range is often compared with Ronnie Spector’s, which is a high compliment. I’m not sure if I’d align her with Spector, though, since Spector championed the girl group genre. I’d align Berlinn more closely with the pseudo-punk nature of Nico and the gritty drive of Janis Joplin. Her voice is eclectic and dark, grinding its way through each punk number with precision and tact. Her voice couldn’t be more perfect for this kind of music, and I’d argue that the entirety of ‘Retropunk’ is really just a vehicle for her performance.

Immediately, Berlinn is tossing out New York City and Lou Reed references in tracks like ‘City Lover.’ Here’s the wonderful thing about this record: it’s true punk music. Punk became an oversaturated genre with too many niche break-off sounds and bands. This is your original punk: short songs, three chords, 'wham, bam, thank you, ma’am.’ That’s what punk was always supposed to be and Berlinn exhibits it in spades on ‘Retropunk.’ Tracks like ‘U Don’t Own Me’ and ‘Bedroom Complexion’ are masterful retro punk tunes.

There’s one last thing worth addressing: ‘Happiness,’ which is Berlinn’s rendition of the White Album song ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun.’ Now, covering the Beatles is a bold move on any record. It’s a bit like sitting down in front of a Picasso painting with a blank easel and saying, “This shouldn’t be too hard, right?” Often times, artists get bogged down when they try to do this. Berlinn pulls it off one hundred percent. Her rendition of the classic John Lennon song is jaw-droppingly captivating. She infuses the song with her own presence and punky nature and it’s one of the best Beatles covers I’ve ever heard. She pays excellent homage while allowing herself to go in a wonderful direction creatively.

From beginning to end, ‘Retropunk’ is the best indie punk record I’ve heard this year. It’s a classic punk-tinged experience that’ll leave you dying for more Berlinn. She’s one of the most intriguing artists I’ve checked out in awhile; her music is compellingly good. I can’t wait to see where ‘Retropunk’ takes her.

Check out Berlinn and her music: