Japanese Women

As many of you may know (or may have guessed by now), I am a big fan of Japanese art. Two of my latest finds in this area are Misaki Kawai and Chiho Aoshima. Both women are incredibly unique artists, but totally different. Currently, Aoshima (of Kaikai KiKi fame) is taking part in a Japan Society of New York exhibition called LITTLE BOY: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture, a show that features Takashi Murakami artists. Looks pretty interesting.

kawaiI am not quite sure where I first ran into Misaki Kawai. She is in a show at the Clementine Gallery, and has two more shows planned in the near future. Her scultures and installations are totally crazy and out there -- they look like something I may have created when I was in 3rd grade -- but she brings a tremendous amount of talent and design sense to her art, making it much more aesthetically pleasing than something I may have made back then.
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Blevin Blectum

blevin blectum
Since I am not incredibly good at describing the wackier artists out there in a few sentences, I've handed the task of describing bLevin bLectum's music to the bLevin herself:
bLevin bLectum now goes solo and/or with the audio/video band SAGAN (with Wobbly and Lesser). Continued electronics with a more oblique slant on the basic BFB sensation of things-not-quite-right-here, clanking, creaking grooves and anti-grooves as a coal-powered spacecraft from some steampunk parallel universe, puffing and straining as it struggles to reach escape velocity, chopped, time-stretched to the breaking/boiling point, generally fucked-with samples of everything from hand-slapped leaves and antique broken Beatnik banks to ProTooledFree classic disembodied-blissful-transvestite-stand-up-comic vocals.

I plan on buying the album, Magic Maple, from the Praemedia's newly-opened shop. Check out the other CDs that they're selling there ... pretty cool stuff, I think ...
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Dr. Dog

dr dog
Hm, this band, Dr. Dog, is kind of cool in a weird and original way. They have a song that seems to be heavily influenced by the likes of both the Beach Boys and Pavement -- really loose and rough, but with a poppy edge. Although they are neither from California (like the Beach Boys or Pavement) nor Australia (like Australia in Helsinki), they have an approach to making music that is similar to Architecture in Helsinki in that they have a large band (20 members at times), yet always change their lineup, making for an interesting sound that is always changing.
Or maybe that is more like Broken Social Scene.

The band hails from Philadelphia, and you can buy their newest (and best) album here.
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I really, really, really love making mix tapes (rather "mix CDs" these days, but the concept is similar). I select tracks, put them in the "perfect" order, and then even make a cover for them. Right ... so I don't have to bear the pain of going through records and actually recording the tracks from the vinyl onto a tape manually, but I feel like this is the closest I can get.
So, I immediately fell for Cassetteboy's rough mixtape-esque albums. Granted, he does a lot more editing and cutting and pasting of tracks than I (or anyone making a normal tape) would ever indure, but his stuff still has a very mixtape feel.
His new "album," Mick's Tape (cute, huh?) comes out in May.

Speaking of mixtapes ... I am excited for this new book, Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture by Thurston Moore! There is a short excerpt from the book in this month's Wired (which you can read here).
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I don't know how to pronouce it or what it means, but the Swedish band, CDOASS makes some great music, and that's what really counts, right? Some have called them a Franz Ferdidand/the Hives clone, but their sound is much more angular and sparse than either of theirs. Unfortunately, the group only has one single and a few unreleased tracks. My favorite song I've heard so far by them is Speak to Me.

An album should be coming out soon ... but in the meantime, you can pick up the Speak to Me single at Parasol.
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Kiyoko Lerner

kiyoko lerner
I love art that looks very innocent and old fashioned. Something that is soft and calming, and maybe not too deep in meaning. Although Kiyoko Lerner's work probably does have a deeper meaning, a lot of it looks like it was pulled straight out of a 19th century book of fairy tales or an ancient copy of Tarzan ... something like that.
She uses watercolors, and takes advantage of the imprecise qualities of the medium to give all her work a very intimate and sophomoric look.

She often paints these rather large pieces, and is known to actually trace characters from old books onto her work (I guess that explains why it looks like an old children's book sometimes ... ) Wow would I like something she has done ...
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The Decemberists - Picaresque

the decemberists
Although the Decemberists' new album, Picaresque came out four days ago, it is such a great album that I feel I must report on how much I love it. It sounds like their previous two albums (I never heard their EP, The Tain, though, so I can't say how it compares to that), but it is also a logical progression/development. Very, very good ... it will definately be on top 20 lists of 2005!

It was when I saw the video for Sixteen Military Wives that I concluded that the album sounds like what would happen if the Rsshmore movie cast and director got together and made an album. There is an innocence and old-fashioned kind of feel about the Decemberists' music and video, which I think links them very well to Wes Anderson and his crew.
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Coolest City on the Planet 2005

coolest city 200
GQ has selected Tokyo as the "Coolest City on the Planet" for 2005! Basically, it is the best in food, clubs, shopping (they use Roppongi Hills as the main example), gadgets, design/design stores, fashion/fashion awareness, and hotels. But you can read a lot of it here (or else get the real magazine and read even more stuff on why the city is so cool).

Now, I have not been to enough cities to say that Tokyo is the coolest one out there, but as many scholars have noted, it is certainly the most diverse city, stylistically, making it incredibly fun and exciting. Since it does not have a rich cultural past (like Paris or London or Prague), the city is an incredible mish-mash of styles and ideas. Sometimes the place seems unfocused, disjointed, and too hectic, but I think that that is the core reason GQ picked the city this year.
What city's next ... ?
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Random Music Update

crystal skulls
Two things ... and yes, they are about music, so forgive me ahead of time.
First off, I sort of like Crystal Skulls, a band signed with the small (but very good) Suicide Squeeze records. When I hear them, I think Orange Juice or Aztec Camera (that kind of light, poppy guitar sound) fused with heavier, grungier stuff ... nothing new in an incredibly exciting way, but pretty cool. Airport Motels is a nice opener for their album, I think ...

On a totally unrelatred note, I think I am going to see Melt Banana on April 27. Yes, Melt Banana as in that crazy, over-the-top Japanese "punk" band. Nowhere near as good as the Boredoms (who recently signed to vice), but entertaining, I am sure.

Melt Banana has been around for about 13 years, but for some weird reason, never became as "popular" as they are in American in their home country of Japan. I think popular is the wrong word, because no one knows them, and I don't even like them. It's just too good to pass up, (I think/hope) ...
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Gorillaz - Feel Good

No frills for this post. Just listen to this song, courtesy of Stereogum...
Feel Good
UPDATE - al-so ... check out the video for Rock It ... they snuck that one by us. I like the video and the song ... but my favorite is still Feel Good.

Why do we have to wait until May!?
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Akiyoshi's Illusions

Akiyoshi Kitaoka has been making (and writing extensively about) illusions and why the mind reacts to them the way it does for several years.
He updates the site quite frequently (in fact that's why I'm posting this now ... he updated on Monday), and it is always fun for me to look at his new work.
Check out all of his illusions here ... impressive!

And - if you are ever so inclined (unlike me) - you can even read a lot of the published work he has done, and some of the speeches he has made here.
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United States of Electronica

The United States of Electronica is a dumb disco-pop-rock septet from Seattle (of all places). Dumb in a cool sort of way, I think ... Just listen to Night Shift, and maybe you'll understand what I mean. Wow is that dude's voice annoying ...

This is related, so bear with me ... Snoozer is a cutesy one-girl band from Chicago. Snoozer (AKA Susie Ghahremani) creates lo-fi electronic-ish pop music. Pretty vocals, lots o' moog and synthesizers, and funny lyrics ... I like it!

Right ... it's related because ... I was looking for a magazine (called Snoozer) that wrote about U.S.E.'s LP and Japan tour. Anyway, I came across Snoozer, the girl, instead, and was pleasantly surprised.

Lastly ...
I am sorry that this has turned into a music blog. I did not mean for this to happen, and I will try and fix the problem. I do not think I write good stuff about music to begin with, but it's all I have ...
I'll try harder ...
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Architecture In Helsinki - In Case We Die

in case we die
The Australian eight-piece band, Architecture in Helsinki will be releasing their second full-length LP on April 12. I am very excited for this one (In Case We Die, in case you didn't figure it out ... ) as Fingers Crossed was a fantastic indie-pop record. The new record will, however, be a "rock-opera" ... so I guess that means it will be more dramatic than the first one. We'll see if it's any good on the 12th!
Oh yeah ... you can listen to a Do the Whirlwind (realplayer) here.

Tracklist anyone?

01 Neverevereverdid
02 It'5!
03 Tiny Paintings
04 Wishbone
05 Maybe You Can Owe Me
06 Do the Whirlwind
07 In Case We Die (parts 1-4)
08 Cemetery
09 Frenchy, I'm Faking
10 Need to Shout
11 Rendezvous: Potrero Hill
12 What's in Store?

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Face the Truth

malkmus concert
Pavement, in my opinion, was the best California band of the 90s, and more ground-breaking than, say, Nirvana in terms of lyrics and song-writing. Stephen Malkmus, the frontman of Pavement will release his third solo album, Face the Truth, on May 24. I cannot wait for it to hit the shelves. Listen to Pencil Rot, while the download is still available from Scenestars.

And now for my famous tracklist part of the post ...

1. Invisible Bodies
2. Baby C'mon
3. Horslip
4. Mmmmm...
5. Loud Cloud Crowd
6. No More Shoes
7. Mama
8. Malediction
9. Pencil Rot
10. It Kills
11. I've Hardly Been

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Keiko Itakura

keiko itakura
Keiko Itakura makes irresistably gorgeous pen and ink line drawings. They are ridiculously complex and ornate, but meld together in a very fluid way, so the drawings and prints are never overwhelming, even though much work went into each piece. She controls pen and ink so well, that her pictures don't even look like they are done with such simple materials. She handles her instrument with the delicacy of a paintbrush, making the images incredibly beautiful. Also, most of her stuff is not in color, which one would think would make her work blander, but it does not at all. Look at lots of drawings that she has done here.

She has done quite a bit of commercial work, including something for Mini, Parco, and many clothing companies. I wish I could find more of her work, but I am not quite sure how to spell her name in Japanese, so I can't find anything that isn't written in English!
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When I first heard oMMM's music, I immediately though, "Oh - how cute!" and also thought that the stuff sounded surprisingly similar to a lo-fi/8-bit style that I have heard many underground Japanese artists use.
And the music is really cute. It's very feel-good 8-bit stuff. The production (something like a 4-track, I think) is so [obviously] low-key and cheap, that the music is very comforting and calming. I love it!
oMMM is signed with ADAADAT Records, a nice little label which I never heard of until now, and which just released their debut album, Testing the Equipment.

P.S. - I was right[-ish] ... I think that at least part of oMMM is from/lived in Japan! Also, this ADAADAT Records label seems to also have released stuff by Milky-chu (Japanese), and oMMM is somehow linked to RDC, another Japanese electronic artist! Hah ... my intuition was correct!
I like this song.
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Thunderbirds Are Now!

Their first album was not very good, but Justamoustache is pretty decent. (Sorry - I've always just wanted to jump in on a post like that ... )
Aside from having a girly-sounding lead vocalist, Thunderbirds Are Now! make some quick-paced, poppy rock that definately has some loose roots in post-punk (loose roots ... )
Check out MP3s from the new album here and here ("To: Skulls" and "Eat This City" respectively ... )

To be truthful, I was really hoping that Thunderbirds Are Now! was either a side project of the Go! Team, or else the two bands worked very closely together. But this is not the case. The Detroit-based band has nothing to do with London's Go! Team, and what a shame it is ... oh well ...
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Avodah Books

It took me some time, but I finally found the website for Avodah Books, the company that printed all the Kramer's Ergot anthologies, along with lots of other cool books! I did not know this, but Sammy Harkham, a great comic artist, is the owner of the company. You can see some of his work at Red Ink (along with some other fascinating talents).

What else ... ?
You can buy lots of uber-cool T-shirts at Avodah as well. And there are so many cool comics and prints to buy, it makes me awfully sad ...
Sometimes I wish that people didn't make so many pretty books and shirts and other items since it only makes me sad to think that I will probably never buy the stuff (or at least all of the things I would like to ... )
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The Fall: The Complete John Peel Sessions

the fall
Oh happy day! the Fall is releasing a 6 CD set of everything Mark E. Smith & Co. did for John Peel's show from 1978 to 2004. That's a lot of the Fall for any normal man, and even a bit much for a dedicated Mark E. Smith fan. The set is 99 tracks long. Yeah ... that's a lot. I wonder how much it'll be ... probably a lot.
The Fall played a very important part in the establishment of John Peel's show. They were the band that put Peel in the limelight ... after the Fall played in 1978, Peel became the king of new music. Maybe 99 tracks is a bit much, but the Fall should, as usual, be given more credit than they have been.

Oy ... why am I posting this tracklist!?

>> Disc One:
01 Futures and Pasts (15.06.78)
02 Mother-Sister (15.06.78)
03 Rebellious Jukebox (15.06.78)
04 Industrial Estate (15.06.78)
05 Put Away (06.12.78)
06 Mess of My (06.12.78)
07 No Xmas for John Quays (06.12.78)
08 Like to Blow (06.12.78)
09 Container Drivers (24.09.80)
10 Jawbone and the Air Rifle (24.09.80)
11 New Puritan (24.09.80)
12 New Face in Hell (24.09.80)
13 Middlemass (31.03.81)
14 Lie Dream of a Casino Soul (31.03.81)
15 Hip Priest (31.03.81)
16 C'n'C-Hassle Schmuck (31.03.81)

>> Disc Two:
01 Deer Park (15.09.81)
02 Look, Know (15.09.81)
03 Winter (15.09.81)
04 Who Makes the Nazis? (15.09.81)
05 Smile (23.03.83)
06 Garden (23.03.83)
07 Hexen Definitive - Strife Knot (23.03.83)
08 Eat Y'self Fitter (23.03.83)
09 Pat Trip Dispenser (03.01.84)
10 2 x 4 (03.01.84)
11 Words Of Expectation (03.01.84)
12 C.R.E.E.P. (03.01.84)

>> Disc Three:
01 Cruiser's Creek (03.06.85)
02 Couldn't Get Ahead (03.06.85)
03 Spoilt Victorian Child (03.06.85)
04 Gut of the Quantifier (03.06.85)
05 L.A. (07.10.85)
06 The Man Whose Head Expanded (07.10.85)
07 What You Need (07.10.85)
08 Faust Banana (07.10.85)
09 Hot Aftershave Bop (09.07.86)
10 R.O.D. (09.07.86)
11 Gross Chapel-GB Grenadiers (09.07.86)
12 U.S. 80's-90's (09.07.86)
13 Athlete Cured (19.05.87)
14 Australians in Europe (19.05.87)
15 Twister (19.05.87)
16 Guest Informant (19.05.87)

>> Disc Four:
01 Deadbeat Descendant (31.10.88)
02 Cab It Up (31.10.88)
03 Squid Lord (31.10.88)
04 Kurious Oranj (31.10.88)
05 Chicago Now (01.01.90)
06 Black Monk Theme (01.01.90)
07 Hilary (01.01.90)
08 Whizz Bang [never broadcast]
09 The War Against Intelligence (23.03.91)
10 Idiot Joy Showland (23.03.91)
11 A Lot of Wind (23.03.91)
12 The Mixer (23.03.91)

>> Disc Five:
01 Free Range (15.02.92)
02 Kimble [the Creators cover] (15.02.92)
03 Immortality (15.02.92)
04 Return (15.02.92)
05 Ladybird (Green Grass) (13.03.93)
06 Strychnine [the Sonics cover] (13.03.93)
07 Service (13.03.93)
08 Paranoia Man in Cheap Sh*t Room (13.03.93)
09 M5 (05.02.94)
10 Behind The Counter (05.02.94)
11 Reckoning (05.02.94)
12 Hey! Student (05.02.94)
13 Glam Racket - Star (17.12.94)
14 Jingle Bell Rock [Bobby Helms cover] (17.12.94)
15 Hark the Herald Angels Sing [traditional Christmas carol] (17.12.94)
16 Numb at the Lodge (17.12.94)
17 He Pep! (22.12.95)
18 Oleano (22.12.95)
19 Chilinist (22.12.95)
20 The City Never Sleeps [Nancy Sinatra cover] (22.12.95)
21 DIY Meat (18.08.96)
22 Spinetrak (18.08.96)
23 Spencer (18.08.96)
24 Beatle Bones 'N' Smokin' Stones [Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band cover] (18.08.96)

>> Disc Six:
01 Calendar (03.03.98)
02 Touch Sensitive (03.03.98)
03 Masquerade (03.03.98)
04 Jungle Rock (03.03.98)
05 Bound Soul One (04.11.98)
06 Antidotes (04.11.98)
07 Shake-Off (04.11.98)
08 This Perfect Day (04.11.98)
09 Theme From Sparta FC (13.03.03)
10 Contraflow (13.03.03)
11 Groovin' With Mr Bloe [Mr Bloe cover] (13.03.03)
12 Green-Eyed Loco Man (13.03.03)
13 Mere Pseud Mag Ed. (13.03.03)
14 Job Search (12.08.04)
15 Clasp Hands (12.08.04)
16 Blindness (12.08.04)
17 What About Us (12.08.04)
18 Wrong Place, Right Time
19 I Can Hear the Grass Grow (12.08.04)

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So, the newest band that I've added to my "buy things by the band" list is Yeti. I think they are from London, but, as usual, I could very well be wrong. Anyway, despite having semi-creepy looking band members, the group plays nice indie-rock music. They have a single out March 28, and I think that that is their first release. Their label, Moshi Moshi, is a very good English label that everyone ought to buy lots of records from.

I wish I could hear some newer studio recordings by Yeti, since I think think that the stuff on their site is old, but I was quite pleased by the demo of Flesh and Bone anyway. Can't wait to see what happens next with these guys ... they have talent, so we'll see ...
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Pit Er Pat and Zzzz

pit er pat
After a long wait, the Chicago-based post-rock trio, Pit Er Pat, has finally released its first full-length LP. The group released Emergency, a 6-track EP in early 2004, but did not release anything else for almost a full year. Shakey is the band's debut album, and is quite something. I really like it. The group has a very angular sound, but contrasts it sublimely with singer Fay Davis-Jeffers jazzy voice (in fact, Fay is a classically trained pianist). So, the album is very good, and you can easily buy it here. Listen to Underwater Wave Game ... it's a song from Shakey.

Well, while I was looking up all this information on Pit Er Pat, I found another noteworthy band, Zzzz. Also from Chicago and equally strange, Zzzz is like "a Tim Burton soundtrack on speed." They have a weird instrument lineup as well ... many songs feature sax and electric piano as well as the "normal" band instruments! Very cool stuff. Check out Assasination Polka, a song from Palm Reader, their record due out on the 14th.
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Gorillaz Update

I have Gorillaz news, straight from Billboard! The band's second album, Demon Days, will be released on May 24. I did not know this, but the album is produced not only by Damon Albarn, but also Danger Mouse! Imagine that! Dennis Hopper, De La Soul, the London Community Gospel Choir, Ike Turner, Shaun Ryder (of the Happy Mondays!), Roots Manuva, and MF Doom will all appear on the record as well! Th album is supposed to have a fuller sound, but still be along the same lines of the s/t debut. Can't wait ...

Ah, and the tracklist ...

01 Intro
02 Last Living Souls
03 Kids With Guns
04 O Green World
05 Dirty Harry
06 Feel Good Inc.
07 El Manana
08 Every Planet We Reach Is Dead
09 November Has Come
10 All Alone
11 White Light
13 Fire Coming Out of a Monkey's Head
14 Don't Get Lost in Heaven
15 Demon Days

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McSweeney's 15

mcsweeney's 15
It was out a while ago, but McSweeney's 15th quarterly installment is in stores. I didn't read the 14th issue, but I did read issue 13th because that was the comics issue. Anyway, issue 15 looks pretty interesting. It features Icelandic writers, was printed in Iceland, and even has an Icelandic mini-tabloid included with it! (Books printed in Iceland are always very pretty, I think).

Dave Eggers, the editor of McSweeney's has been keeping busy, though, [I think]. He co-wrote the screenplay for Where the Wild Things Are with Spike Jonze. I still cannot find much else about the film, but when I do, I can promise that I will write about it!
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Noah Butkus

noah butkus
This stuff is very impressive. I am a huge fan of Moebius, and this guy, Noah Butkus obviously draws heavily from the legendary French artist. Ah, look! Noah's testimony:

When I was 14 I was fortunate enough to meet him and he has been the biggest influence on my work.

Like Moebius, he draws in a science-fiction sort of style and uses tons of details to fill up every page. Also like Moebius, he has a slightly shakey line ... which makes the work look more organic and natural. I love it!

Speaking of Moebius ... when is he going to do something new!? I want more Moebius art bad! I think my favorite work of his may have been The Incal because it was just such excellent science-fiction, and who doesn't like Jodorowsky!? Maybe Mr. Butkus should make comics as well ...
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Gondry and Jonze

gondry and karen o
For some reason, I always think of Michael Gondry and Spike Jonze as a duo. They never work together, but when I hear one name, I automatically think the other. Maybe it is because they have followed similar filmmaking paths. Both started small, did lots of music videos, and have now become famous directors.
Anyway, I think Jonze's Adidas commercial with Karen O singing is just fantastic. It looks so aesthetically pleasing, however, that I find it a little difficult to accept it as [mostly] the work of a director. I mean, how could Jonze have done all that editing work himself? I guess he kind of had the original idea, though, and that works for me. I hope that his Where the Wild Things Are film will look sort of like this ad. Also, Karen O.'s voice works so well with this ad. I love how she is able to switch from incredibly soothing and calm to crazed lunatic whenever she feels like it.

Gondry directed Hot Hot Heat's newest video. I like it ... kind of normal Gonry style, though. Nothing new. Check it out here.
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Caribou (formerly known as Manitoba) is releasing The Milk of Human Kindness on Domino Records in mid-April. The album is great (I'm in the process of writing a review of it), and I cannot wait to get my hands on the real thing. It has a more mature and organic sound than Up In Flames. The music is also more structured, I think, and really smooth ... soothing. It all flows into one fantastic piece, and I am so happy to see that a musician with an incredible debut album is not going to be so easily forgotten!
Listen to Barnowl

Yes ... everyone's heard it. But I'll mention it anyway! Dan Snaith, AKA "the aritst formerly known as Manitoba" had to change his name due to legal action taken by Dick Manitoba of the Dictators. I think it is crazy how the second-rate punk musician filed such an absurb lawsuit to begin with, but that's the legal system for you ...
On the lighter side of things, though, I think that it may have been a good idea to change names! Think about it ... how many bands have a Canadian province in their name? Of Montreal, Manitoba, and, um ... well, I think there are more ...
new name, new sound, good thing.
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Fannypack - See You Next Tuesday

That crazy Brooklyn rap quintet, Fannypack is going to release their sophomore album, See You Next Tuesday, on March 22. I've been rockin' out to some of their tunes on Myspace, and I am overall pretty impressed with the material! The album seems more dancey than the last one, but certainly no less goofy. Seven One Eight, for example, sounds pretty similar to something on their self-titled debut. Matt and Fancy are definately talented producers (and I think Fancy is just such a cool name! ... maybe he is like Garfunkle and Matt is like Simon, though ... all show, no real skill ... )

So ... tracklist:

01 Keep It Up
02 Seven One Eight
03 On My Lap
04 Feet and Hands
05 Fire Fire
06 Pump That
07 Yeah Yeah
08 Twisted
09 You Gotta Know
10 Keep On
11 Not This

... lookin' forward to it!
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Of Montreal - Sunlandic Twins

sunlandic twins
The psychedelica/60s-pop-revival group, Of Montreal is releasing a new album called Sunlandic Twins on April 12. I am looking forward to the release very much as Satanic Panic In the Attic was fantastic, and this work is supposed to follow a more encompassing route. I think Of Montreal stands out as a unique 60s-revival band because of their charmingly eccentric behavior. They don't really play their music like they're from the 60s, but rather like they just love the 60s too much not to play in that style.
Listen to three songs from the upcoming LP at Purevolume

And not only is the record a whole 13 tracks, it also comes with a 4 track bonus EP (if you buy the CD version of the album) or a 5 track 12" (if you buy the vinyl version). Here's the tracklist:

1)Requiem For O.M.M.2
2)I Was Never Young
3)Wraith Pinned To The Mist (and other games)
4)Forecast Fascist Future
5)So Begins Our Alabee
6)Our Spring Is Sweet Not Fleeting
7)The Party's Crashing Us
8)Knight Rider
9)I Was A Landscape In Your Dream
10)Death Of A Shade Of A Hue
11)Oslo In The Summertime
12)October Is Eternal
13)The Repudiated Immortals

bonus e.p. with the cd version
1)Art Snob Solutions
2)The Actor's Opprobrium
3)Keep Sending Me Black Fireworks
4)Everyday Feels Like Sunday

bonus 12" with the vinyl version
1)Art Snob Solutions
2)The Actor's Opprobrium
3)Keep Sending Me Black Fireworks
4)Everyday Feels Like Sunday
5)Family Nouveau

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Sherbert Magazine

Sherbert Magazine is certainly the prettiest magazine that I have seen in a long time. Maybe "pretty" is a bad way to put it ... ambitious and unnecessary might be a better way to put it.
But I love ambitious and unnecesarry things! Who doesn't? Not only does Sherbert come with a good looking mix CD, but it also has three pixie stix included. As for content ... I can't say if the magazine is well written or anything (since I haven't bought it yet), but the featured artists, musicians, and other topics seem interesting. I would love to buy it, and for $10, I don't think I could go wrong!

Printed magazines are the internet magazines of the past. I think it is weird (in a cool way) to see a come back of printed material, especially in a time when technology and the internet is so highly regarded (and cheaper). Maybe it is just easier and simpler to get your stuff out there if it is printed, as you are not competing with the thousdans of other magazines on the net, but I don't know if that's the whole story. I would like to see something about this trend, because I sure don't understand it!
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The Scandinavian countires are an interesting part of the world in terms of musical contributions. Because of their socilaist-based governments, they place extra attention on the arts. Norway, for example, which has a population roughly one half that of my home state (Ohio), has contributed a great deal more to the music world than Ohio has. I find this to be both astonishing and commendable.
Sambassadeur is a lo-fi band from Sweden. I really enjoy their music ... very calm and light, but produced with a very elegant and delicate aesthetic. There is also something very 60s-ish about their music ... a kind of timeless sound. I want to buy their EP from AC30 Records!

Check out some of their music on their media page. My favorite song (yes, I know, there are only two to begin with) is Between the Lines.
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The Beat Up

the beat up
Okay, so now it's overkill, I agree. I will stop my constant promoting of the UK music scene. After this post, I promise. But The Beat Up are just a little too good to pass up.
They play a very energetic variety of blues-based rock. From England, so it's different. You can hear What You Hear right here. Good song ...

Listening to this sort of music (music that is obviously taken from a different country than the one the band is based in) makes me like America more. Not that I don't like the US, but I like to know that the US is the home of some things. We made jazz and blues, and Detroit is all ours ... along with the music of the town.
Enough preaching.
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Heavy Radio

I know that Heavy has been around for ages now, but it was only recently that I started listening to their really good internet radio. They have a wide selection of styles and era, and lots of songs (frequently updated, also!) on each playlist. Definately worth checking out!

Speaking of internet radio ...
I highly recommend that everyone set up a Webjay and/or Audioscrobbler account. I use my Webjay playlist for Radio BiBaBiDi, but I like to also use Audioscrobbler because you can listen to their internet radio based off of what you listen to. Audioscrobbler comes with a plugin for your media player which automatically updates your statistics, so the whole world can see exactlly what you've been listening to! Check out what I've been hearing recently here.
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Andrew Rae

andrew rae
Not only is the UK the hot spot for new music, but it is also bursting at the seams with creativity in the illustartion world. Andrew Rae is one of those absolutely fantastic artists. I love his instantly recognizable loose hand drawings. Everything he choses as his subjects he seems to making subtle fun of. I just love it. He doesn't really seem to take his work too seriously, and I think that in this case, that is an incredibly good thing.

He also takes a very traditional approach to drawing. Yes, his work often does incorporate computer coloring and effects, but it is never computer "heavy" ... never does it rely on the computer to impress the viewer. I think this quote exemplifies his work:

How would you describe your work?

Irreverent and dumb...

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Best Fwends

best fwends
Since I am currently obsessed with English bands/labels, I thought it would be fitting to post about Best Fwends, a crazy, quirky, wacky duo from Texas (but their label is in London, so it still counts). Their music is a funky mix of lo-fi beats and goofy lyrics about immature subjects. On their website, they say "please don't link to our MP3s," so I won't. But their record label, Moshi Moshi, doesn't say that about this sample of Ninja Turdle. Ahh ... so refreshingly dumb and lame. I love it.

hot chipAnd while on the subject of Moshi Moshi Records, I thought this would be as good a time as ever to mention Hot Chip, another fantastic band on the label. Listen to Defeated By Technology by Hotchip now! Hot Chip is a little less playful than Best Fwends, and they have more of a tendency to "rap" instead of doing sing along style songs, but Hot Chip doesn't really seem to take themselves too seriously either.
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Hideout XSPF Player

I thought that it would be pretty cool to embed a media player into my blog, as I write about music so frequently here. The XSPF Player is a compact little flash media player that automatically updates to my Webjay Playlist. I think it is one of the coolest ideas I have seen in a while, so please take advantage of my own little "Radio BiBaBiDi."

I still don't know about all the extras that come along with the XSPF Player, but if you click here, you can embed the media player into your FireFox browser. I don't know how to change the playlist for the embedded player, but it's actually a really great playlist anyway. I also like how the player displays album cover art. Very cool.
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New British Music

the ordinary boys
This post has a pretty lame name, I agree, but I think it will cover some important stuff in the music world. The UK used to be the center of rock, new wave, punk, post-punk, electronic, and many other types of music. Many influencial bands have originated on the islands, making it an incredibly important music hub.
For some reason, I have not paid much attention to the UK in the recent years. I am, by no means, against Coldplay, but I feel like too many groups have emulated their style, and that has gotten pretty boring. But there is a new wave of musicians coming out of England these days, and they should certainly be recognized globally.
A short list of bands that I think are going places:

The Duke Spirit
The Dead 60s
The Kaiser Chiefs
The Ordinary Boys

duke spiritOkay, now for my reasoning. Yes, several of those bands are already popular in the UK, but they are not recognized anywhere else yet, and that is why I mention them all in equal terms. Duke Spirit is an excellent post-punk revivalist band (sort of) ... they are edgy and bold. Check out a video of theirs here. The female vocals are an absolute plus!
The Dead 60s are fantastic as well. They remind me a lot of Gang of Four, minus the politics. Like a punkier GOF, or something. Very angular, quick, energetic, and good vocals. I really like Radio Riot, but all of their songs are great.
You all know about the Kaiser Chiefs, I'm sure. I also wrote about them before.
The Ordinary Boys are on the same label as the Chiefs, but they have a different song. It is a little bit like The Jam with a bit of a surf-music edge. I love (Little) Bubble.
Maybe Feeder shouldn't be on this list. They sound a lot like other English bands playing these days. Kind of like Athlete or something ... But they are not just a Coldplay rip-off, even though they tend to follow that trend. Check out their whole album here.
And yes, I know I'm leaving people out, and I am truly sorry. But this is a good start, I hope.
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The Sights

the sights
The Radio 4 concert I saw on Wednesday was pretty good (even though there were a maximum of 25 people there), but it was made even better by a performance by The Sights, a blues/rockabilly trio from Detroit. Unlike other bluesy bands coming out of Detroit these days, the Sights draw equally from rockabilly/60s rock and blues, making them stand out quite a bit. Also, instead of just having a drummer and guitarist (like the White Stripes, for example), they also feature an organist, which made the band more entertaining and unique.

Their live show was very good. They played some covers (including one of Ray Charles' songs) and material from most of their official releases. The guitarist kept having technical difficulties, but his energy and liveliness completely made up for this.
Listen to Circus, a fair representation of their material.
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The Blood Arm

the blood arm
Whenever a band gets popular, they eventually become associated with lesser bands that they have "discovered." English post-punk revivalists, Franz Ferdinand, have apparently discovered The Blood Arm, a London band which is equal parts post-punk and pub-rock. I don't know if Franz should be credited with discovering them, but I do know that they are good.

Listen to Do I Have Your Attention, an excellent Brit-pop tune. Although the MP3s on their website are all demos, I am sure that they would have a more refined sound in the studio, which would really work to their benefit. I foresee this band going places! They are unique enough to appeal to a certain portion of the indie world, but they are also mainstream enough to appeal to just about everyone.
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I have Deerhoof news!
First off, the band is set to release their annual album in the fall.
But it gets better! Deerhoof is set to release a Japan-only EP of material recorded on their tour in the country. I know, I know ... it will probably cost a lot since it will be an import, but I love Deerhoof so much, I am willing to shell out the money.

As a side note, why is that every band that releases a live album uses material from their Japan tour? Off the top of my head, I can think of the Microphones, Primal Scream, !!!, and Cheap Trick, but I know that many other bands have released Japan-tour albums!

Also, I am very excited to see Deerhoof live later this year. They will be playing in Cleveland in early May, and I cannot wait to attend the concert!
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