Music List | posted 14.08.2020
Jonathan Bree
10 All Time Favs
Jonathan Bree hides his face behind a latex mask. Well, right. But that’s not the most remarkable thing about the new zealander. Because he is first and foremost a first-rate songwriter. He told us which 10 records have shaped, improved and formed him.
Text Harry Schmidt , Translation Sebastian Hinz
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Jonathan Bree – After The Curtains CloseFind it at hhv.de: Black Vinyl LP | Red Vinyl LP Der Neuseeländer Jonathan Bree belässt es nicht bei einem Mund-Nase-Schutz. Lieber zieht der Musiker aus Auckland sich gleich die komplette Spandexmaske übers Gesicht. Schon mit dem Cover seines aktuellen Albums »After The Curtains Close« knüpft Bree direkt an dessen Vorgänger »Sleepwalking« an, mit dem ihm der große Durchbruch gelang – allein die Hit-Single »You’re So Cool« hat bis jetzt 12 Millionen Klicks auf YouTube eingesammelt.

Auch musikalisch bleibt der Producer mit der markanten Baritonstimme dem Kurs treu, den er 2018 mit den dritten Alben seiner nach dem Ende des Duos The Brunettes gestarteten Solokarriere konsequent angesteuert hat: Jenseits von Indie-Rock einen dezidierten Late-Sixties-Vibe mit der Spielart von Synth-Pop zu verschmelzen, der mit den New Romantics der Achtziger aufkam, um bei einem melancholisch-barocken, dunkel glimmenden Kammerpop zu landen, so könnte man das Projekt von Bree beschreiben. Kurzum: Musik für Leute, die sich sowohl für Scott Walker als auch für John Maus begeistern können. Fügt man noch Spurenelemente von Serge Gainsbourg, Lee Hazelwood, Robert Wyatt und Leonard Cohen hinzu, kommt das dem Höreindruck bereits recht nahe. Auch der Shoegaze-Sound von Acts wie The xx, Mazzy Star oder Cigarettes After Sex ist nicht allzu weit entfernt. Nur, dass der Sänger, Gitarrist, Keyboarder, Schlagzeuger, Produzent und Songwriter an keiner Stelle wie ein Klon einer der Vorgenannten klingt, sondern einen immer ganz und gar stimmigen, integren und eigenständigen Eindruck hinterlässt.

Auch mit seinem eigenen Label Lil’ Chief Records, auf dem bislang alle seine Alben und Singles erschienen, setzt Jonathan Bree auf Unabhängigkeit. Die opulenten Streicher- und Bläser-Arrangements lassen stets genug Raum für seine Vocals, auf denen immer viel Hall liegt und mit denen er in der Tradition der großen Crooner steht, oder auch mal die von Gastsängerinnen wie Princess Chelsea auf der jüngsten Single »Kiss My Lips«, Crystal Choi auf »69« oder Britta Phillips (Luna) in »Meadows in Bloom«, das ein wenig an die Shangri-Las erinnert. Mit Songs wie »In the Sunshine« und »Cover Your Eyes« wirkt »After The Curtains Close« insgesamt wie das etwas lichtere Gegenstück zu »Sleepwalking«. Wenn der Vorhang fällt, ist die Show noch lange nicht vorbei. Shoegaze-Retro-Pop für die Welt von morgen.


You can find the Vinyl records by Jonathan Bree in the HHV Records webshop.


The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground LP 1 – The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground (MGM Records) (1969) Vinyl LP
Jonathan Bree: My favourite Velvet Underground album as it leans more towards their melodic sweeter side. Not that I don’t appreciate the avantgarde stuff but I’m much more likely to listen to »Candy Says« over »Sister Ray«. I bought this album when I was 17 and just about listened to it everyday for a year.

Big Star – Sister Lover 2 – Big Star – Third/Sister Lovers (Rykodisc) (1978)
Jonathan Bree: It’s a varied listen but they were pioneers of slacker attitude recording, it doesn’t get any effortlessly cooler than tracks like Kangaroo or Holocast.

The Modern Lovers – The Modern Lovers 3 – The Modern Lovers – The Modern Lovers (Beserkley) (1976) HHV:477843:Black Vinyl LP###
Jonathan Bree: I might not listen to it much anymore but this album and all of Jonathan Richman’s work has played a massive part in my musical upbringing. ‘I’m straight’ was probably the track that connected which me in my later teens when I actually was no longer the hippie Johnny character and was going through similar frustrations.

Blondie – Parallel Lines 4 – Blondie – Parallel Lines (Universal) (1978) Vinyl LP
Jonathan Bree: II don’t know if this album belonged to my brother or sister, but it was in the family record collection growing up and I played it a lot. Drums were my first instrument and Clem Burke was my favourite drummer as a kid. The way he used the kick drum in his fills is still a go-to for me. I probably would choose to listen to »Plastic Letters« or »Eat to the Beat« more but that’s only because I thrashed this growing up. The first line up of my band use to do a cover of »Hanging On The Telephone« (which is Blondie’s cover of a band called the Nerves) because we didn’t have enough original material. It’s was always bittersweet when people would come up after and say »that Hanging on the telephone song was really great«.

Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence 5 – Lana del Rey – Ultraviolence (Vertigo) (2014) Vinyl 2LP
Jonathan Bree: I’m noticing my picks are so far dwelling between ‘68 and ‘78 so… when this album came out I felt very glad to be alive. Everything came together perfectly in my opinion on this album. I love the production, the guitar work, I wish she had continued to work with Dan Auerbach on following albums, though they were great also.

The Cure - Disintegration 6 – The Cure – Disintegration (Fiction) (1989) HHV:200622:Vinyl 2LP###
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Jonathan Bree:** When it came out I was still a child drumming in a goth band. I remember the singer of my band turning to me as she listened to her freshly purchased copy and saying »this is historical, you’ll remember this day«. As funny a statement as it is, I do remember it, and though there are other albums of The Cure I probably listen to more, it’s still their finest moment. For the last two years we’d put this album on the front of house sound system before walking out on stage to perform. I also had a go at covering »Lovesong« with my old band.

Nancy & Lee – Nancy & Lee 7 – Nancy & Lee – Nancy & Lee (Reprise) (1968)
Jonathan Bree: Another discovery during my teens when I started to write music was this album. Tracks like »Some Velvet Morning« and »Sundown« really inspired me to try my hand at writing duets. Billy Strange’s arrangements are formidable and no doubt have been influential as well.

Roxy Music – Flesh And Blood 8 – Roxy Music – Flesh And Blood (Polydor) (1980) | Vinyl LP
Jonathan Bree: Another record from the family collection that I listened to in wonder as a child. It just sounded so slick and futuristic, like it was from another planet. Now I’m familiar with all the Roxy Music studio albums and I know that there’s other albums that perhaps rate higher with music critics. However »Same Old Scene« is still a formidable recording and to me just as influential as the cool art rock material that came before.

Various Artists – Pretty In Pink O.S.T. 9 – Various Artists – Pretty In Pink O.S.T. (A&M Records) (1986)
Jonathan Bree: Okay, maybe it’s a bit of a copout to put a various artists movie soundtrack in here, but this is probably one of the most played albums of my life. It’s still gets generous spins in the car, it’s got to be the best soundtrack of all time. It features other 80’s heroes of mine The Smiths, The Psychedelic Furs, Echo and the Bunnymen. Also as a side note: I love this movie. I wrote a song called »Duckie’s Lament« about Jon Cryer’s character Duckie.

The Beatles – The White Album 10 – The Beatles – The White Album (Apple Records) (1968) | Vinyl LP
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Jonathan Bree:** It’s a bit obvious but hey there’s no way I can’t include an album by the best band of all time. »The White Album« is my favourite of theirs, probably because it is so diverse. It utilizes the studio but it’s also when they pulled back from pushing the psychedelic stuff which definitely put a timestamp on those recordings. To me tracks like »Happiness Is A Warm Gun« are timeless. A good tour van game to play is make your own single LP version of »The White album«. Always leads to good debate about the merits of certain tracks over others and no band member makes the same list. Oh and you can’t beat that bass production on »Dear Prudence«.


You can find the Vinyl records by Jonathan Bree in the HHV Records webshop.

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