When: July 12
Where: Gretchen, Berlin
Even if musician/actress Stéphanie Sokolinski—or SoKo—hasn’t released a full-length album in a few years, she’s still one of France’s indie ‘it’ girls. Her music is painfully intimate; she sings in faint whispers, accompanied by dreamy, minimalistic instrumentation, with lyrical content that could’ve been pulled straight from the scribbles in her diary. In the song ‘I Thought I Was An Alien’ from her 2012 album of the same name, she recites the line, “You look at me as if I was a freak, but you said you like freaky people, so I thought you might like me a little bit,” and you can hear a self-awareness and strength that contradicts the meek nature of her sound. However, the handful of singles that SoKo has released over the last couple of years capitalize on that once-concealed power of hers: here she’s adopted a darker, New Wave—dare I say—punk-tinged sound that teeters on melancholic, but is rarely depressive.
Who: Timber Timbre
When: July 14
Where: Astra Kulturhaus, Berlin
I suppose it’s fitting that I discovered Timber Timbre while watching Breaking Bad. Much like the show, which highlighted the age-old adage that things are not always what they seem, Canadian band Timber Timbre may come off as a bluesy folk outfit, but underneath lurks an intoxicating eeriness that sets them apart from rest. The music on their 2014 album, Hot Dreams, ranges from the cinematic sound of an old Western film score, to the spacey, tripped-out styling of any great psychedelic band. Many of the melodies are written in a minor tonality, and are just slightly off-kilter enough to add edge, but not grate on anyone’s nerves. Lead singer Taylor Kirk’s low baritone can at once be soothing and menacing, but as a whole, his voice truly rounds out their sound.