Thursday, December 30, 2004

 
The last post of the week is dedicated to the band Half Japanese and singer/guitarist Jad Fair's solo output. Among many great quotes about this band are the Byron Coley quote about the original two-brother duo (Jad and David) following the same primitive urges that caused the first cavemen to bang rocks together and Howard Wuelfling's "The part of the Stooges that the Ramones threw away." David also has a great essay in the highly-recommended Greatest Hits double CD about how to play guitar.

In the course of doing research for this post I was unable to find a complete discography for the band or for Jad. There's an independent site, the Trouser Press entry, and the Drag City site, but all are missing information. So as I have to do sometimes, I will start a separate page on the Discography section of my website (joining Biota/Mnemonists, Harry Partch, and 23 Skidoo as bands without complete web discographies that I'm trying to compile). What we know about the "duo years" is that they released a 7" EP in 1977, another in 1978, a live tape (a double?) in 1979, and recorded an unreleased third 7" EP in that same year. When their earth-shattering debut triple LP box set 1/2 Gentlemen Not Beasts came out in 1980 it included (and I quote) "most" of the three EP's and possibly some of the live tape (there are two whole live sides). As any record collector knows, that "most" does not help in the least.

Fortunately, I can fill in one piece of the puzzle. I was lucky enough to get a second-generation dub of the 1st EP, Calling All Girls, and there are indeed two tracks not on the box set. Here they are:
"My Knowledge Was Wrong"
"Tracks Of My Tears"

If anyone knows the tracklistings for the 2nd and 3rd EP's or the live tape, please contact me so I can add that info.

In that same year, 1980, Jad Fair also released a solo EP, his first. The Zombies Of Mora-Tau sets a real high-water mark for the early years... Here's some great tunes:
"Frankenstein Must Die"
"The Thing With The Atomic Brain"
"Dead Men Walk"
"The Zombies Of Mora-Tau"

Lester Bangs even included this record in his essay "A Reasonable Guide To Horrible Noise" alongside such shriekers as the Teenage Jesus & The Jerks EP (which has a totally different mix than that near-worthless Atavistic reissue, BTW).

Splitting from the UK Armageddon label, the band followed the guy who had signed them in the first place to a new US imprint, Press Records. Augmented by four more musicians, this lineup recorded the mind-boggling Loud LP and the Horrible EP (my favorite), both of which have been lavishly reissued as a single CD by Drag City along with complete singles and B-sides of the era (Yay! Score one for completism!).

Also out on Press the same year as Horrible (1982) was Jad's first solo LP Everybody Knew... But Me. Showing the same kind of "progression" as the band's records of the time, it's a good one... hear for yourself:
"Amy"
"Amy You Went Away"

Moving to the Iridescence label, the band put out two of their best. Our Solar System and Sing No Evil were released in 1984, and Jad also put out the Monarchs LP, which I can find no info on whatsoever. Those first two have also been reissued by Drag City (thank you thank you). In '87 Jad also did an all-instrumental solo LP called Best Wishes for the label.

Around this time the band also put out two live cassettes. One was on the embryonic K label out of Olympia, a split tape with the Velvet Monkeys called Big Big Sun. This came out in 1986 and is listed on most discographies. But there was also an earlier tape, from 1984 on the Calypso Now label, called 50 Skidillion Watts Live. Once again I have a second-generation dub (from Mykel Board's collection, no less) and if you ignore the tape hiss it's pretty mind-blowing. These tracks need individual commentary...

"Rosemary's Baby" - ace version of this track from Horrible
"Nicole Told Me" - didn't show up on record until 1988's Charmed Life
"Lucky Star" - ditto until 1989's The Band Who Would Be King
"Fortunate" - also on Charmed Life
"No Direct Line/On The One Hand" - song off of the debut into a Sing No Evil track

Somebody should really reissue this tape, it's a great document. I also have two tracks listed that aren't actually on it - ???

The band then enjoyed a run of successful records on their own 50 Skidillion Watts label and at least one major tour that I got to see. In 1989 the German label Bad Alchemy put out a huge 104-minute double LP of Jad Fair called Great Expectations, including all of the Zombies EP, 22 of the 29 tracks on Everybody Knew..., and 47 other tracks. Some of these may be from Monarchs, I don't know. What I do know is that there was a 1993 CD called Greater Expectations that included 37 of those 47 tracks along with seven MORE tracks not on the double LP, or anywhere else. Confused yet? Me too. But the 2LP stands as one of the essential recordings by this bunch... you would think that being one of Kurt Cobain's Top Ten Albums would have made it more available somehow, but no... Again, if people out there have better tracklisting or, especially, info about the recording dates of these tracks, please contact me.

From the Great Expectations 2LP/Greater Expectations CD:
"Shoestrings"
"Cherry Pie"

Although rock-pounding purists may dismiss the somewhat more sentimental Half Japanese of today, the band (and Jad and David) are still putting out excellent material. I hope this will give some of you incentive to explore it.

Thanks to Dana for the space again... Look for me to appear a little more here in the coming year.

 
It's funny how your taste in music changes when you have a wide selection. Last week I was all about Blondie and the Go-Go's and Joan Jett. This week I'm more interested in the new incarnation of Throbbing Gristle... But over the last year and a half I have been consistently fascinated with the work of Arthur Russell.

Russell undoubtedly sold more records in 2004 than in any other year of his life, or since his death in 1992. No less than three reissues and a ton of press, leading a few to nominate him as "most overrated". I beg to differ. Russell's work was almost totally under the radar for somebody who almost joined Talking Heads and released Sire Record's first ever 12" single in 1979 (as Dinosaur). Pretty much everything you could ever want to know about him is at the Jahsonic website.

So let's talk about the reissues... First came Soul Jazz with The World Of Arthur Russell, an excellent collection/starting-point showcasing his varied approaches. Then Audika put out the all-unreleased Calling Out Of Context which, again, sounds like none of his other records - mostly keyboard-centered. Lastly was the jaw-dropping Audika reissue of 1986's solo-voice-and-cello-with-echo LP World Of Echo. This was the record that turned me on to the guy in the first place, after reading about him in David Toops's Ocean Of Sound book. I found it on somebody's shared folder along with This Heat and Virgin Prunes tracks, so I knew it had to be good. Indeed, it is one of the most fascinating records I've heard in years. Originally released by Rough Trade in 1986, the reissue blows my lame MP3s out of the water in terms of sound quality. Highly recommended.

Of course, there's a ton of stuff still out there. Here are some likely suspects...

Probably the next reissue we will see is the out-of-print Another Thought CD, two tracks of which were included on the Soul Jazz collection. It's solo voice and cello with minimal overdubs. Here's another few, one only found on this disc and two alternate versions of World Of Echo songs:
"This Is How We Walk On The Moon"

"Lucky Cloud"
"See Thru Love"

The flipside of Russell's Buddhist introspection was a joyous disco vibe that few have equalled. Although it might be available on a compilation called Disco Not Disco, the B-side version of "Kiss Me Again" is so so so worth posting. David Byrne plays guitar! One of the most transcendent disco diva anthems I have ever heard.

On a different disco note, this 12" A-side of "Tell You Today (New Shoes Part 1)" is bouncy and fun as opposed to passionate and intense.

As a coda, we have yet another different approach, the almost orchestral sound of "Sketch For Face Of Helen" found on the old-school Fruit Of The Original Sin compilation LP along with DNA and others. The DNA tracks have come out on a "complete" CD of theirs, but this is another little slice of genius that fell through the reissue cracks. Enjoy!

Last post of the week will be Half Japanese/Jad Fair, and we're gonna get technical, record-nerd style...

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

 
Rare And Unreleased Coil Tracks:

Well. Here we are again. I like this dropping in on the MP3 Blog World every once in a while. Solstice was three days ago as I write this, and the light is slowly coming back here above 40 degrees latitude.

There have been a number of tragic music-related deaths this year, and I also celebrate the one-year anniversary of a friend dying. Although John Peel's passing hurts our overall culture more than anyone in a while, the one that hurt the most for me was Coil's John Balance. I used to get so confused about who this Geoff Rushton guy was and why he disappeared from the Psychic TV lineup at the same time Sleazy did, but wasn't in Coil... ? You get the picture. I most appreciated Loki's writing on the subject but loved the Brainwashed tribute video as well. They have a well-written tribute up at their website, which they will continue with some changes. The band name will not be used for any new projects, but there's at least one more coming out.

I have, laughably, attempted to be an amateur Coil completist since the beginning, at least in terms of having good recordings if not originals. They've made it easier over the years by rereleasing some rare stuff, but not all. So here are some special treats for the MP3 world in memory of...

"Is Suicide A Solution?" (B-side of "Airborne Bells" 7" on Clawfist)
The website notes: "Is Suicide A Solution?" is a reworking of "Who'll Fall" from Stolen and Contaminated Songs, but is slightly remixed and features an opening which speaks "I am the loneliest link in a very strange chain," and an ending which, when spun backwards plays "When the gods want to punish you, they answer your prayers..."

">"Keelhauler" (B-side of "The Wheal" 7")
I believe this was issued in some insane micro-edition by the band, but my copy came with the Normal Records reissue of the Gold Is The Metal LP. Unfortunately not included on the CD reissue.

"Crumb Time" (from the Backwards demos)
Their most famous unreleased project, purportedly the followup to Love's Secret Domain on Trent Reznor's Nothing label, this record apparently exists only in demo form. The latest website update notes that some of these recordings will be reissued on the forthcoming posthumous Coil release.

"Gay Men's Guide To Safe Sex" (unreleased)
Supposedly the soundtrack to a video, listed amongst numerous unfinished/unreleased projects on the old version of their website. For all I know this could be a fake track, but it sure sounds like them. Downloaded via Limewire.

"Journey To Avebury" (unreleased)
B-side of a 2-track 10" on the Twin Tub And Beaver label that may have even gotten to the test pressing stage before falling through for some reason. This one is the real treasure of the batch, a very fine slab of atmosphere with better sound than the two previous tracks.

In a day or two I shall return with another dead genius, Buddhist disco-dancing avant cello player Arthur Russell, and some commentary related to him. Now I must go finish downloading an unreleased Sun Ra poetry reading...


Monday, December 27, 2004

 
Wanted to make sure I got this up before New Years Eve.

Here's the somewhat obscure band 9353 with Famous Last Words, which was slightly popular on college radio back in the 80's. I recently bumped into someone (on the internet) and we were talking about bands we liked that no-one seems to know about. He mentioned 9353, and even though it's probably been 15 years or so since I've heard them, I reflexively spat out "It's ok, it's not loaded, I'm a good driver, don't worry honey!" I take that as a sign that this is a memorable track.

So, um, drive safely next week!

More on 9353 here.

My guest host Sleeve starts posting tomorrow.

Monday, December 20, 2004

 

Here's what's going to happen over the next few weeks:

I have a huge post today that covers Christmas etc.

Then I'm going to take the rest of the week off. I'm working a lot, and then family is coming to visit on Wednesday, so it's time to give the internet a rest. (Incidentally, I just switched to Firefox -- it takes a NY Times article to get me off my butt -- and I'm already hooked.)

Next week my guest host Sleeve will be back. If you've been reading for a while, you may remember that he did an amazing stint here a few months ago, with lots of not-on-CD rarities and such. I'm really looking forward to this.

Ok, first thing up: The Wombles. I'm getting a lot of hits from people looking for that Wombles Christmas song that I posted last year. As far as I know, the Wombles Collection CD is hard to find these days, so here once again is Wombling Merry Christmas. Until someone else takes over (I haven't looked too hard, so maybe someone already has), I'll make it my yearly Christmas job to keep this song available.

Second thing: only slightly related to Christmas. Maybe it's all the talk about the recent Cristina reissue campaign, but I've had her producer August Darnell aka Kid Creole on my mind lately. I'm also in the midst of your standard Christmas nostalgia, which is making me reminisce about the wonderful pastel-hued video for the irresistibly bouncy Kid Creole & The Coconuts song Endicott, which used to play on U68 all the time back when I was young and livin' in New Jersey. I kick myself for not having used the VCR more often back in those days. Endicott comes from the In Praise Of Older Women & Other Crimes album, and the Kid Creole website (he's still around) is here.

Cristina once covered a song called La Poupee Qui Fait Non. It was also covered by Luna, years and years later, and I really like the Luna version. Here it is...very different than Cristina's take. You can read about the song's writer, Michel Polnareff, here.

Ok, last thing.

I don't generally listen to "Christmas" songs, since I'm pretty sick of most of them at this point, but around this time of year I do tend to gravitate towards the softer side of things, and Claudine Longet often ends up in heavy rotation. If you don't know her, or only know about the SNL sketch, be aware that her albums often have really wonderful songs and arrangements, carefully designed to set off her tiny little whisp of a voice. "What's wrong with her voice?" asked my wife, passing through the kitchen, and some people may have that reaction, it's true. I really like it, and I think that it does what needs to be done. But if you're a big fan of American Idol, you may not get what the fuss is all about.

As it happens, Claudine recorded a great, rhythmically complex, Christmas song called I Don't Intend to Spend Christmas Without You. The song was originally written by soft-pop songwriter Margo Guryan, whose demo version is probably better than (and not very different from) Claudine's. Margo's demo appears on the 25 Demos collection, as well as on some (not all) versions of her Take A Picture CD. Much later, Saint Etienne covered the track for a fan-club single. Here's that.

The Claudine Longet song that's currently thrilling me the most is her fairly radical reworking of the Rolling Stones' Let's Spend The Night Together. ("Mama needs you more than ever.") The great Claudine Longet website is here. Don't skip the "mail" page which includes all sorts of interesting stuff, including a tribute from someone from The Henry Rollins Band, and links to a pretty neat French twee-ish pop group called Watoo Watoo (their mp3s are well worth a listen).

Whew, hope that's enough to keep you occupied for a while! See you in a few weeks.

[Having given it some thought, I've decided to also post Claudine's Wanderlove, from her first album. I posted it once before, but it's been a while, and it may be the prettiest song I know. Do not expend much effort tracking down the version by the song's writer Mason Williams. It is blah.]

Thursday, December 16, 2004

 
In 2003 I had a bunch of posts about The 88. I'm still not quite clear on why they're not better known. To my ears, they're the first band possibly ever to steal from the Kinks' classic late 60's sound succesfully. You know and I know that if someone were to release vintage recordings of Ray Davies thinking about writing a song, people would buy it. So, The 88's apparent lack of success really puzzles me. I'm actually not sure about the extent of their lack of success. They've been on the soundtrack to The OC (and The Mountain, and LAX), and seem to garner a lot of prizes in their hometown of Los Angeles, but my sense is that they're not yet on the national (or international) radar. And as far as I know, they haven't cut the mustard over at Pitchfork yet, which is really weird.

I brought that up because they're going to be on Jimmy Kimmel (on ABC) tomorrow night. Ok, it's not like getting to serenade Katie Couric, but it's a start.

The 88 have three very nice mp3s on their website, so go here if you're curious. I'd personally recommend Elbow Blues if you're only going to download one, but all three are worth hearing (what I'd really recommend is buying their album, which I continue to hear as one of the great lost classics of 2003).

(Ok, yes, live they kind of look like dorks, but that's true of a lot of bands!)

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

 
The Magic Dirt fans recently made available one of that band's earliest rarities: The Jim Jims (Magic Dirt before they changed their name) doing Heroin by you-know-who. The mp3 is from this place, but that's a zip file with a slow download speed, so I thought I'd post it as well. Not 100% succesful, but interesting.

And here's Stereo Total performing Nico's Chelsea Girls from their forthcoming Do The Bambi. I should write more on them at some point, but the best way to start investigating Stereo Total is probably to go to their website and download the rare mp3s (every mp3 blog gets around to mentioning this at some point). Kill Rock Stars has more mp3s and reissues of several of the group's CDs.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

 

In a new New Yorker article, there's a review of an album that's currently available only in Europe, with a US release date set for next spring. Initially, I thought that was slightly rude: it seems to be rubbing in the fact that The Music Critic got to fly to France for a listening party (and back in November at that) and got invited up to the artist's flat in Monmarte to see her etchings, while you, the common people, get to wait another four months to hear the CD.

A minute later, I realized that the common people who read the New Yorker can apparently afford to spend $200 on a hat made from the fur of an entire family of yaks, so they can probably figure out how to import a CD from France. I imagine that, as I write, any number of tiny Gallic packets are winging their way towards the unsuspecting hands of Jamaican nannies throughout New York City. (It looks like folks could save their nannies some trouble by just running down to, predictably enough, Les Autres Musiques.)

I often wonder about the true meaning behind music reviews that appear in the New Yorker. I'm sure that the writers have a good idea of who they're working for, so I'm never sure whether I should take their opinions straight, or read them as being cynically directed towards a certain reader. It seems entirely possible that, in this case, the reviewer is making fun of his audience, but regardless, it seems like a safe bet that, when it does get released in the US, Keren Ann's Nolita CD is going to take up permanent residence in every bookstore, every coffee shop, every semi-upscale brunch spot, and every apartment in New York where someone is about to offer a friendly backrub following an informal date at the MOMA.

I thought it was interesting that the reviewer, referring to Keren's previous album, said, "I reached for it over and over, as if it were a glass of water." It's one of a number of possibly backhanded compliments. The things I know about water (as does, I assume, the reviewer):

1. It's judged not for any positive attributes, but rather by its lack of defects
2. It's thought best, by those who care, if it comes from France

On the Glass Of Water scale, Nolita succeeds beautifully. Keren
Ann's vocals hit an exceedingly tasteful spot somewhere between Claudine Longet's whisper and Hope Sandoval's heroin hangover, arriving at a point where her voice lacks audibility and expression in equal parts. Add the French-ish accent, and you get distant, sexy, and foreign, and I can't imagine what could be more appealing to a certain kind of male reader, other than "inaccessible." And, by running the review so far in advance, that base is covered as well. With influences such as The Velvet Underground (the third album only), The Cowbow Junkies, and any number of the late Serge Gainsbourg's ex-girlfriends, it's pretty obvious that this is a shot that's not going to miss its target.

Another interesting bit from the review: the writer starts to tell us about Keren's lyrics and quotes the line, "This is why I always wonder / I’m a pond full of regrets / I always try to not remember rather than forget." Suddenly realizing that even New Yorker readers won't buy that as profound, he adds, "It doesn’t read well on the page" and goes on to talk about her voice's lack of affect and how it increases the impact of the words. And so we arrive in a beautiful, floaty space (equal parts caffeine, wine, and money) where "je ne sais quois" lyrics, sung with the same lack of care that went into writing them, have gathered an intense power of indiscriminate suggestion. It's a space that some of us may remember from the last time we saw an advertisement for Eternity Parfum: romantic, timeless, classic.

There's an empty transcendence to this record that's inspiring. It takes its cues from any number of meaningful, bohemian moments from the 60's, though in this version, the transvestites and drug addicts were all gentrified out of the Chelsea hotel back in the fifties, leaving it populated with shy, thoughtful, pretty women of indeterminate European origin, waiting pensively for that fateful day when Lou and Andy stumble upon through the front door (following brunch, espresso, and a trip to the flea market).

There isn't a single note, melody, or arrangement on Nolita that isn't as seductive and honest as the distressed finish on the chair you just finished roughing up with steel wool, per Martha. Strings caress soft acoustic guitar, somber horns remind us that life is finite, and playful banjos (or are they ukeleles) cry out "how wonderful to be alive and plinking!" I have the album on now, in the background, on a cold day that's equal parts fall and winter. It makes me want to write a letter to my old college girlfriend, to curl up with a cup of cocoa and a copy of Bonjour Tristesse, and to check to see if the Film Forum has Bande A Part playing anytime soon. I'm looking for my scarf, realizing I don't have one, thinking of buying a scarf, and thinking about taking a walk through Prospect Park. When I play Nolita in public, smart looking twenty-somethings with glasses will reflexively tell me "it's really nice" as they glance up from their Mac Powerbooks.

For those of you who aren't the type to purchase expensive yak-hats, here's a taste of what's coming next spring, if not sooner. Both of these songs are romantic, timeless and classic, and I suggest you prepare to love them as if they were a fine glass of water.

Chelsea Burns
Nolita

Monday, December 13, 2004

 
Incidentally, my hits today seem to have just about doubled, and most of them look to be coming from Alison Breitman's website, so I'm guessing that she's starting to get some publicity, which is nice. If you're arriving here from there, I'm sorry but I don't have her mp3s posted anymore. The article itself is here.

 


In addition to hosting Motherbanger, the WFMU mp3 spot also has the Peter Cook/Dudley Moore song LS Bumblebee. The notes make reference to Derek & Clive, and since not everyone knows who they were and since it is nearly Christmas, here's the opening of the Derek and Clive (Live) album (the tracks are The Worst Job I Ever Had leading into This Bloke Came Up To Me).

Um...don't listen to that at work. I don't know why I brought up Christmas.

Here are 60's archaeologists Death By Chocolate with their take on LS Bumblebee.

And here's Bongwater with their take on the Dudley Moore composed Bedazzled, which was performed by Peter Cook in the movie of the same name, which is very likely the cleverest movie I've ever seen.

You can hear the original Bedazzled, the b-side (Love Me) and all sorts of other stuff, including Derek & Clive outtakes, at this very thorough Peter Cook centered site.

Friday, December 10, 2004

 
I've been going crazy trying to figure out where I downloaded the (old) Pixies parody Motherbanger. It's now joined the extremely short list of "funny" songs that I actually laughed at (the other two are Ween's Squelch The Weasel and...hmmm, can't remember the other, but it's probably by Bongwater).

Turns out it I found it here.

 

The Anders & Poncia Album

I should probably revisit the work of Pete Anders and Vinnie Poncia some time in more detail, but I'm in a rush (as usual).

The obligatory "connections" paragraph: Anders & Poncia worked with The Ronettes way back when, and Poncia co-wrote I Was Made For Loving You by Kiss. I'm not sure how exciting either of those factoids are, in the grand scheme of things. Since they were a songwriting/production team, they obviously had a hand in a lot of projects, but I can't say I've been really blown away by anything of theirs that I've yet heard (other than today's album). They recorded as The Tradewinds at one point, managing a small hit with the Beach Boys sounding New York's A Lonely Town. The Tradewinds aren't really to my taste, but their album (there are also some singles) is highly rated by some. It's available on a Japanese CD collection.

In 1969 they released The Anders & Poncia Album on Warner Brothers. It's a strong-to-very strong collection of extremely well-produced pop in a number of late 60's styles.

I'm just about 100% convinced that there's some connection between the first track The Year Of The Twine and The Velvet Underground (e.g. Head Held High from the last VU album). I'm not sure if they stole from Lou, Lou stole from them, or if both stole from a shared source, but some of the vocal mannerisms and guitar are very, very close.

They follow that up with the very Forever Changes-like You Don't Know What To Do. Sometimes I wonder if Anders and Poncia were a little weak at integrating choruses with songs, but then I think that that's being awfully picky for such a strong track. I hope I'm not underselling this album. Let me say right now that the best tracks are seriously top-shelf.

Third song is called I'm Beginning To Touch You. Both my wife and I have this incredibly strong feeling that this was a hit, but I can't find any evidence that it actually was. If it wasn't, it sure should have been. Someday, someone's going to put this on the soundtrack of a movie (if they haven't already) and it's going to be huge.

And that's a pretty damn strong start. There's a slight drop-off in quality after the opening 1-2-3, but there are no out-and-out weak tracks, and several more really good ones. For now I'll leave out their version of the Leiber & Stoller track Smokey Joe's Cafe, with guitar by Ry Cooder, and go straight to the slightly White Album sounding Take His Love, which is another favorite of mine.

I can't imagine why this isn't on CD, unless there's some weird legal issue. The singing and playing are great throughout, and the songwriting ranges from very good to excellent. They never quite lay claim their own sound, but do a fantastic job of stealing from their sources. The really spot-on production is by Richard Perry who's produced so many big acts that I wouldn't know where to start.

I'm also a total sucker for bands made up of people who look like Juan Epstein.

(Photo from the back of The Anders & Poncia Album. I can't say I'm sure exactly who we're looking at!)

Thursday, December 09, 2004

 
Since I'm taking today off, I'm posting two tracks that relate to recent posts.

Here's another song from Yuji Oniki's Shonen Blue album. It's called Underwater (...just like you) and I'm posting it because a few people requested more Yuji after I wrote about him the other day. I've left a few tracks from Shonen Blue unposted, just in case he ever decides to reissue it on CD.

And even though I've posted it a gazillion times, here's The Upbeats' Jello Party Mania. To recap, a couple days ago an extremely helpful reader finally tracked down the info on the Upbeats possibly promo-only vinyl album from which this song comes. I'm still not sure why it hasn't swept the nation, inspiring "Jello Party Mania Parties" from Athens to Ho-Ho-Kus.

As far as we can tell, this song doesn't appear on the CD rerelease. Strange and disturbing.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

 
Goodbye Japan, Hello Canada

After two days of music by (or involving) Japanese expats, it's time to move on. If I get some time, I will post a few more tracks from the Yuji Oniki album (see yesterday's post), since I did get requests for it.

Last night, totally out of the blue, a random stranger wrote to me and hooked me up with a whole bunch of rare early Men Without Hats stuff (concerts, demos, etc.). It was like a late birthday present or something. I'm in the midst of sorting through it all to see if there's anything that might be interesting for the unconverted, and hopefully I'll be able to post something next week.

Meanwhile, in honor of Men Without Hats and kindly Canadians everywhere, here's The Dayglo Abortions performing Proud To Be Canadian. Is it possible that this track hasn't been posted in mp3 blogland since the US election? I'm thinking no, but on the other hand I haven't seen it, so maybe it slipped through the cracks. It's from The Dayglo's 1985 album Feed Us Fetus, featuring lovely cover art that you really should try to check out sometime.

I have something really neat planned for Friday, so I may skip Thursday this week.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

 
Stop the presses!!!

I just got an answer to a question that's been plaguing me for a long time...a reader has provided the info on The Upbeats. I'd posted about their mysterious promo album a few times before. Since I may have some REM fans poking around that Yuji Oniki post from the other day, I'll start by saying that it turns out that Peter Buck was involved with The Upbeats.

All other details can be found in the comments section here.

 

I once said that I only post songs here if I really like them a lot, but rules are made to be broken. Today is kind of a public service, I think.

I keep mentioning The Record Store That Sells Albums From The 80's That No One Has Ever Heard Of For $2.99 Or So. It really is kind of an amazing place.

The latest weird/unexpected thing I found there is the first Yuji Oniki album. He's a Japanese lush-pop type from California who received generally good reviews for two recent albums. Typically, the evil Allmusic doesn't want you to know that he self-released a record back in the late 80's. It's called Shonen Blue, and it's kind of like REM by way of Elephant 6.

I barely like REM (the only albums of theirs I ever listen to are Fables Of The Reconstruction and Monster, and yes I know that those are the two "bad" ones) and I also have a very iffy relationship with E6, so the preceding description doesn't really get me too excited. But, I'm aware that it might sound like heaven to a lot of people.

Given the right combination of fall weather, coffee, dogs, leaves changing colors, brunch with mimosas, driving in the country, Volvos, preppie girls in fuzzy sweaters, and Ultram, I could probably work up a weak enthusiasm for the two more recent Yuji Oniki albums, but I can't say he really speaks to me either. I put Orange and Tvi on my iPod from time to time, and someday the stars will align and they'll be the perfect soundtrack to some melancholy fall day. Hasn't happened yet.

On the other hand, Yuji has his supporters, including a guy from Guided By Voices and a band called Beulah and Scott Miller and so on. I'm guessing that some of Yuji's fans wouldn't mind hearing some of Shonen Blue, so here are a few tracks. Honestly, they all kind of sound the same to me, but if anyone has any requests for tracks that I didn't post, I'm easy. (I'm about 90% sure that this album isn't on CD, but if I'm wrong just ignore all of today's post and sorry.)

Cover
Ghosts
Fairport
Ave 'C'
Dropping Hands

Monday, December 06, 2004

 


I've been skewing kind of mainstream lately, and that's probably going to continue this week, so I thought I'd take a brief detour into indie-land. Nothing hugely exciting.

Asobi Seksu are a NYC band getting hyped in some circles. They feature our old friend pop-wrapped-in-guitar-noise avec female Japanese lead singer, and I've been kind of dubious about them based on the mp3's I'd heard, but I did recently learn that their guitar player James Hanna (a guy with a very nice -- and not at all US-indie sounding -- Kevin Shields voice) sings lead from time to time.

I had missed that detail despite reading innumerable articles/blog entries about the group, since most reviewers seem more focused on translating the band's name (if memory serves, it means "food madness" or "I heart Sean Lennon" or something like that) or discussing how odd it is that people focus on the lead singer in a group otherwise consisting of three white men in their twenties who chose a Japanese band name, Japanese lead singer, and Japanese graphics, with lyrics often sung in Japanese. Weird, right? Blondie is a group! (And don't you forget it!)

I thought I'd post a track today on the off chance that I'm not the only person in the world who vastly prefers Asobi Seksu in boy-singer formation.

Anyways, here's Let Them Wait (which is also available on the band's website). It's not my favorite song in the world, but it's nice enough. I'm thinking that, given the way rock critics are, it would be career suicide for Asobi Seksu to go with this sound full-time, but I'm secretly hoping that James will continue to get one or two tracks on their future albums.

A group who seem to get better press now than they did back when I somewhat liked them is Blonde Redhead. Along the lines of certain debates that Flaming Lips fans have, I doubt that it's worth arguing about the highs and lows of their career. I'm pretty sure that many people who came on board with Melody Of Certain Damaged Lemons would be less-than-thrilled with the more abrasive Fake Can Be Just As Good, but FCBJAG is the album I like best, partly because I hear Kazu Makino's (high and irritating) voice making more sense in a noisier context.

My favorite song of theirs was and is Symphony Of Treble, track number two from FCBJAG. Cute touch: note that the guitars switch speakers one time, about halfway through the song. Test your brain: does it sound better with noise on the right and notes on the left, or vice versa?

While doing some googling vaguely related to all this, I happened to notice that Jun Kurihara who used to be in a sort of cult, Japanese twee band called The Nelories is a member of The Music Lovers. Interesting, slightly. If anyone knows if The Nelories' song "Blue Flower" is related to the Slapp Happy song, that's something I've been wanting to know for a long time, but it's been a while since I've been in a twee enough phase to consider tracking down the album it appears on.

I changed my mind. Tomorrow will also feature indie-ville and Japan.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

 
Between the fact that December 2nd is my birthday and my just-plain-silly schedule at the gym, I doubt anything much will happen until Friday. Remind me again why I took a job that involves waking up at 4:00am from time to time!

Meanwhile, I'd like to join a bunch of other people in recommending the mp3 blog Locust St. It currently focuses on music from the 40's (which may or may not be a permanent thing) and while I know little to nothing about that subject, the writing is extremely informative, with all kinds of neat graphics and factoids and such. You could probably have a great time with this blog even if you never downloaded a single mp3.

I've got a few new things to write about, including something new from Trztn (aka the guy who used to be in Flux Information Sciences). I hope to get a chance to write on Friday afternoon or over the weekend.

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