Review: Schëppe Siwen – ‘Wat Bleift’

Updated: Nov 21, 2019

A folk-punk troupe from Luxembourg, Schëppe Siwen have been on our radar for a few months now, ever since they sent across the video for their new single and eventual title track ‘Was Bleift’. It was a raucous introduction to the Grand Duchy eight-piece, offering a vibrant and unwavering glimpse at what was to come.

While the band might have been founded more or less as a joke in a cult bar called ‘Vis-à-vis’, the band has grown to become a true folk-rock outfit over the last decade, pursuing a sound that is perfectly their own. Built to impress, Schëppe Siwen have gone on to mix folk, rock, pop, reggae, punk and ska into a dense melting pot of sounds, pushing boundaries and proudly singing in their native Luxembourgish, earning support slots for rock legends like The Levellers, Carlos Núñez and The Red Hot Chilli Pipers.

Now embarking on a bold new journey, Schëppe Siwen have cobbled together ten new tracks to make ‘Wat Bleift’, a sensation album that is unlike anything we’ve heard before. Proving language is no barrier to creating a genuine connecting, ‘Was Bleift’ opens with ‘5 Vir 7’, a track that sees old-world sounds of accordions, violins, and drums rising from a hushed crowd. It’s a slow start that quickly builds into a rampant medley of traditional and contemporary sounds, marking the beginning of something fiercely original.

With the first instrumental done, the album then shifts its focus to ‘Looss Alles Zreck!’, or ‘Let Everything Go!’ to us none Luxembourgish speakers. Driven by an unrelenting drum beat and a rolling bassline that endures through the oncoming aural onslaught, the second track is a quickfire transition into far less subtle musical territory. Breaching the void with rough, almost spoken-word vocals, the song quickly creates an indelible impression. Trumpets blare and rules are broken, the tempo shifts and the melodies twist and turn upon themselves, creating a snarling, spirit concoction that is simply unparalleled. With an abrupt end, you’re then thrown into the lead single and title track, ‘Wat Bleift’ for another dirty tribute to old school ska sounds.

Fourth cut ‘Heif Deng Fauscht’ brings a lull in proceedings, pushing for a more rhythmic sound that clashes with Jojo’s vocals and undercuts their more abrasive aesthetic, while ‘D’Auer Leeft’ and ‘Weltrees’ do their best to regain momentum and find a path to follow. An instrumental that mirrors the energy of the opening number, ‘D’Auer Leeft’ acts as a palate cleanser for the release, pushing aside idle wonderings and building the stage from which ‘Weltrees’ leaps, sounding like a re-energised Oompah Band that have suddenly developed a taste for ‘80s ska. It’s an intriguing mix, but one that has us longing for the heavier punk sounds of its predecessors.

The opening guitar chords of ‘De Klenge Männchen’ shock you back into focus, with Schëppe Siwen delivering a classic rock edge that rallies around choruses of enduring vocals, while ‘Fett Ewech’ delivers more rock and rolls anthemics with a rampant energy and rapid-fire vocals that crash over a stream of shimmering accordion notes. Final tracks ‘De Leschten Danz’ and ‘Starenhimmel’ finish the release with mixed emotions, offering a driven, powerful punk sheen and lingering, emotive scales in equal measure.

All told, it’s a breath-taking release for its originality alone, and the band have certainly struck upon a sound that will serve them well for years to come. A deft introduction to the band for those not well versed in the European folk-punk scene, ‘Wat Bleift’ is frequently powerful and sometimes poignant, offering an illustrative, although sometimes unbalanced vision of the band’s talents.

Score: 7.5/10

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