Silke Berlinn began singing in a Catholic girls’ choir at the age of 6. At 15, she formed her first band in NYC, leaving soon after for San Francisco to work with Robbie McKenzie of Mink deVille. Berlinn’s first recording, “Bizarre” was produced by Bill Graham with Brad Samuelson (Rolling Stones) engineering. Silke later returned to NYC, where she worked with The Addictions, which included, at various times Brendan Earley (Mutants); Steve Berman (Victims); Jerry Nolan (NY Dolls, Heartbreakers); Frank Infante (Blondie); Clement Burke (Blondie); Clarence Clemmons (E Street Band); The Hooters, Robbie Spinoza; Luigi Scorcia (Johnny Thunders Band); and Manhattan Rob Walsh.
Silke Berlinn and the Addictions have now released “RETROPUNK” (iTunes, Vinyl and CD). The collaboration currently features: Silke Berlinn handling vocals, Gary Kaluza on bass, Matt Lee on guitar and Dead Kennedy drummer DH.
“RETROPUNK” is more than a perfect ‘retro-punk’ or alternative rock album, from start to finish. Silke Berlinn and The Addictions have got everything that makes good rock n’ roll; good lyrics that make sense, energy that sustains itself throughout the entire album, simplicity in the arrangements, an undeniably, effective live-sounding production, dirty guitars, gritty vocals and melodies that come alive.
“RETROPUNK” is a stirring serving of rock-grit that straddles the chasm separating resignation from exuberance. Somewhere between a mashup of Iggy Pop, Patti Smith and Marianne Faithfull, singer Silke Berlinn’s cocksure charisma manifests itself in guttural explosions to create a style that ultimately conveys ennui, despair, hope and self-empowerment in a soul-searching original manner. Despite all the pop, hip-hop and R&B that clutters the market nowadays, Silke Berlinn and The Addictions gives the rock music world the wakeup call that was long needed.
Some critics have said that Silke Berlinn, takes up where The Velvet Underground left off. Quite frankly, in my personal opinion, Silke has a catchier sense of melody than the Velvets ever did, and an even more varied, emotionally schizophrenic musical approach, together with her beautiful pop-like choruses and her extended vocal range.
Borrowing from the past, adding the present, and giving hope to the future, “RETROPUNK” is an alternative punk-rock album worth giving a damn about. You may have heard traces of some of this music before – like Silke’s version of John Lennon’s “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” – but you don’t care because it’s just that damn good. Silke Berlinn is the definition of pure, unabashed, scathing rock and roll that is frighteningly authentic and perfect, from her attitude to her music. There is nothing to hate and everything to love, like the jangly guitar-driven “City Lover”, the psychedelic ditto “Silicon Valley”, the tormented “Bedroom Complexion” or the almost beat-pop of “DNA Lounge” and my personal favorite, the intensely fiery “What Kind Of Time Is This?”
This album surprised me in how good it was. This is what music should be about: attitude, spontaneity and incredible songs. Silke Berlinn has this rare ability to perform songs in a way that is both affecting and extremely memorable. Silke borrows from punk, new wave, acid-rock, art-rock and psychedelic influences, yet manages to mix it up enough to make it totally original and unforgettable. There may be traces of The Stooges, Television, Sonic Youth and the aforementioned Velvet Underground, yet there is nothing derivative here as Silke Berlinn delivers a fresh musical alchemy all her own, which will remain influential in the underground scene long after the raw appeal of “RETROPUNK” has run its course.
If you remove the hype from most bands, you’re left with mediocrity. Remove the hype from the Silke Berlinn, and you still have an incredible artist!