17.3.06

BiBaBiDi Mini Mix

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I was about to do a Weekly, but you know what? It's a really nice day today in Kanonji ... I'm glad to have nice weather again. And because of my good mood, I decided to upload a bunch of old songs ... a BiBaBiDi "mini mix" if you will.
I'll explain some of this stuff after the links ...
Yellow Magic Orchestra - Behind the Mask
Altered Images - Happy Birthday
the Buzzcocks - Everybody's Happy Nowadays
the Cure - In Between Days
Bauhaus - Hair Of the Dog
Swell Maps - Let's Buy A Bridge
Young Marble Giants - Searching For Mr. Right
X - Johnny Hit and Run Pauline

Okay -- now for some explainin' ...

Right -- so I'm living in Kanonji, Japan right now. Why? you ask? Well, there were a few things that got me interested in Japan when I was a kid. The music is the first and foremost reason for my initial interest in the country. J-Pop still beats the crap outta me, but I like old Japanese pop. I used to listen to a bizarre mix of like, Joy Division and Pizzicato Five and Plastics. For a while, I loved Yellow Magic Orchestra, Ryuichi Sakamoto's original group, more than anything. I listened to "Behind the Mask" on my dad's record player every day while prancing around the living room. Yeah -- it was weird. But that music was like, the soundtrack to my perceived Japan. It was all Bladrunner skylines and polluted air. And everyone listened to YMO at tiny little cramped clubs in Tokyo ... right?

Now, everyone loves Altered Images. For a few reasons: impeccable production, striking vocals, and an awesome cross between the aesthetics of post-punk (those drums! those guitars!) and early bubblegum pop. So that's why I've got "Happy Birthday" on this mix ...

And everyone loves the Buzzcocks, and they've been written about too much, so I'll skip the reasons why they're "so cool." I just thought they fit in well with the "Happy Birthday" song ...

The "perfect pop song" is probably not out there. It won't be made. That song would have to meet too many people's musical expectations, and a song that strikes the dead center of those expectations ain't perfect at all. But to me at least, the Cure's "In Between Days" is a "perfect pop song." It has a real grabber of an intro, it's in a key that implies melancholy and love, which people like, but it's uplifting and exciting. Perfectly produced, perfectly played, and of a perfect length. Okay -- maybe too short. I listened to this song too much while in Germany, and have yet to get tired of it. It's been on at least five previous mixes of mine, too. I love this song.

I actually can't remember why I added Bauhaus to this mix. I like them. I don't really think they're "goth," though. I think people who say that are wrong. I don't think Siouxsie is "goth," either, though. I always thought of gothic music as being played by people that dye their hair jet black, smoke black cigarettes, drink black water, don't speak, and sleep, hanging from the ceiling like a bat. I was always mildly creeped out by Bauhaus, but they -- to my knowledge -- do not sleep like bats or smoke black cigarettes. Therefore, they are not "goth."

One of the most important things that the Swell Maps contributed to was the compilation, Wanna Buy A Bridge?, released in 1980. That was a really cool comp that brought together people that were not first generation punk, that weren't post-punk, really, but were still inspired by it in some way. Swell Maps, in my mind, is not a post-punk band, but they took that energy of punk and made it into something new, anyway. Something crazier, and shorter-lived, yes, but something new all the same. I thought "Let's Buy A Bridge" paid good tribute to them.

I don't like Young Marble Giants all that much. I like the vocals and I like the rumble of that bass. I kind of like how they sometime used organs. The group seems like a good "mix tape" band ... a group that does good at making sparse songs, perfect for filling in gaps. Their music is filler, but intentionally so. That's why they're cool. It's not really "good filler," it's just filler made for the purpose of being filler. So they sound the most deliberately sparse of any band I've heard.

X was such a damn good band. They were unlike any of those other California punk groups. They were the XTC of California punk. Really smart, musically (yeah -- the Dead Kennedy's were really smart, but mostly for their political statements). They sang like, really well, and they had great chops, too. Listen to that guitar playing! Man ... those guys were awesome.
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