30.7.08

D01


Okay, let's try something new and different here.

As longtime readers (or even, to an extent, new ones) have realized, this blog is experiencing a midlife crisis. My work at Anthem consumes too much time for BBBD to be front and center in the way it used to be, and I've generally become disillusioned and dispassioned by the ease with which one can create and sustain a music blog.

The joy of discovery and in-depth investigation is what makes blogging so fun -- or at least what used to make it so exciting and alluring to me. When blogging is seen as some easy format for malleable and disposable marketing or promotion, though, creators need to take a step back and assess both where they are and where they want to be ... and wonder if the answer is consistent with what made them so happy to express themselves online in the first place.

I'm by no means wagging the finger at others here, nor am I suggesting everything morph into something "new." For me, though, the task of finding music and then disseminating it in a meaningful way has all but disappeared.

This, I believe, is due part to my apparent desire to look back upon musical tropes for "answers" and cohesion: everything I listen to today, I innately assume, is somehow rooted in the past and explained in the pages of compendiums and encyclopedias like The Trouser Press or New Wave Vol. 1. This is certainly not the case, and by no means the way I approach listening to music in the real and everyday world.

I also understand fully now that the brand that a blog represents and the inherent voice it has make the opinions and meaning within it blossom. There's no reason for me to call one artist out as crap and hail another when you all know essentially what my musical preferences are, for example. If you trust me, then you'll come back, eager for more tunes.

I feel as though I've taken advantage of the respect and merit that I've attained (what little of it I have attained is questionable) and feel the need to just ... share again.

So: lengthy introduction aside, I'm making a new series of posts. All of my future write-ups will be a part of this overarching series. In an effort to unearth, (re)discover, and better understand the music that surrounds us -- and surrounded us -- for every 25, 50, 75, or some arbitrary number of posts, I'm going to select one genre to deeply delve into (or as deeply as my self-imposed restrictions allow me to).

Since I'm feeling Hercules & Love Affair right now (keep an eye out for the Anthem video we produced with them) and everyone seems to be into disco of some variety, I'll begin with that (hence the "D"). I now present you Hercule. The Italo-disco artist recorded a couple tracks back in the late-1970s and that's essentially the extent to which we know him. "Little Green Man" is the b-side on the "Sunday Morning Fever" 12". It sounds like Plastics attempting a heavy, funky disco cut. Check it out below and buy the vinyl at Turntable Lab.

I've explained myself, so don't expect this again in the future. Lastly, I'll still randomly post films we produce for an added bit of exposure.

Hercule - Little Green Man

Buy it at Insound!

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23.7.08

Yukari Fresh Releases New Album


Love me for this, okay?

Escalator Records' final release will be Yukari Fresh's forthcoming LP, GRRRL SUMMER CAPE KID. The seminal Tokyo-based label has been churning out Shibuya-kei, electro-pop, experimental, and dancey tunes since the early 1990s, and it's with a deep sorrow that we say goodbye to them.

One of Escalator's first signings was Yukari Fresh -- albeit not by that name -- so it seems fitting that the long-standing roster member's new full-length will be released on her first (and only) label. After amicably folding, the ex-Escalator staff will dedicate its time to its Shibuya record store, Every Coversation and Crazy to Live record labels, and its Tokyo dance parties. May the Escalator legend live on.

GRRRL SUMMER CAPE KID is a refreshing return to Fresh's roots. It's spunky and concentrated, hooky and quick, jumpy and energetic. Fresh never fails to cut to the chase with her recordings, and often times, that's a good thing. She's a thirty-something (maybe forty-something?) mother now, though, making the sheer energy and sometimes bombastic forcefulness all the more inspiring. This statement rings very true with the new LP and is certainly not to be missed.

Ah, and if you missed it the first time around, check out the lengthy (definitive English language?) interview I did with Naka, Escalator Records et al's president, for Anthem right here. It looks as though I caught them on the brink of their dissolve!

GRRRL ... is out on August 27; below you'll find one song from that and two extra old tracks to tide you over until the record hits stores.

Yukari Fresh - GRRRL (A FACTOR OF REVOLUTION)

Yukari Fresh - Fat

Yukari Fresh - Lost and Found (Hideki Kaji Remix)

Buy it at Insound!

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18.7.08

Pacific!'s "Sunset Boulevard" Gets Remixed by Lord Skywave


We were sold by the first second of Pacific!'s debut single, "Hot Lips," a year or two ago. The Swedish duo has since gone on to push its surfer-meets-electro-pop LP all across the globe, from the U.K. to the U.S., and even to India where they're now enjoying the number one slot on the nation's MTV and VH1 music rotations. Not too shabby!

There've been many remixes of Pacific!'s work, but this new one by half of Black Ghosts, Simon Lord, a.k.a. Lord Skywave, is one of the most stunning we've been graced with since Breakbot's stellar effort. As Daniel -- half of Pacific! -- aptly puts it, the edit is reminiscent of "an old Bollywood soundtrack somehow." How perfect, then, that they're a Hindu hit!

Check out the remix of "Sunset Boulevard" below and be sure to pick up the debut, Reveries, when it hits the States on July 22!


Pacific! - Sunset Boulevard (Lord Skywave Mix)


Buy it at Insound!

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16.7.08

New Liars, "Disgusting"

Liars Interview from Anthem Magazine on Vimeo.
Oh, how I love Liars. The trio is one of those bands that we all know is going to be pumping out albums for years and years to come; one of those bands that will inspire generations of future musicians; one of those bands that will always seem utterly accessible and completely alien (have you ever seen Angus and company live!?)

Four albums and a handful of EP's in, countless recording locations later, and uncanny genre hopping, Liars comes out with a curt single that has no affiliation to anything as far as we know, "Disgusting." Unlike the bulk of their last LP's work, "Disgusting" is more reminiscent of early punk cuts by, say, the Slits during their collaboration with Half Japanese that never happened. The throbbing beat and helter-skelter hook makes the tune messy; the slightly off drumming only further convolutes the thing; the piece is genius.

Now that the band is officially holed up in L.A., I'm hoping to see more of them ... don't tell me this isn't a Los Angelino tune.

"Why can't they turn on the lights? You are a man and I am a drug. It's so disgusting."

It's so disgusting!


Liars - Disgusting
Buy it at Insound!

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14.7.08

PRDS


Yesterday, I received an especially brief message from a certain 16-year-old kid named Adam, who makes music under the moniker prds. With a copy of Fruity Loops as his instrument, the Swede pumps out sublime, melancholic instrumental pop gems that shimmer like the setting sun reflecting off a placid ocean. "Lionfish" is a tad repetitive and flat; "Bahamas" is a bit choppy and doesn't spotlight the throbbing bass line that drives the tune quite enough; prds is a work in progress, but with some assuring signs of a positive and creatively fruitful future.

Check out two MP3s below and grab another pair at the guy's Last.fm page.

prds - Lionfish

prds - Bahamas

Buy it at Insound!

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9.7.08

No Age/Mika Miko/Abe Vigoda @ the Smell


Early last month, Los Angeles exports No Age, Mika Miko, and Abe Vigoda performed at the Smell's second annual matinee performance. I'm still a little in the dark as to why they decided to hold such a stellar show during some of the hottest hours during the day and how they managed wrangle up every hipster in the great L.A. region, but -- needless to say -- the mini-festival (or whatever you want to call it) was fun.

I did this film for Anthem Online. Check out the original article and small clip here. We got footage of all three bands' sets (amazing), a solid Q&A with No Age, and a fun chat with some of the Mika Miko girls and a couple of the Abe Vigoda guys.

I recommend viewing the high-def version of the video on Vimeo. We didn't shoot in HD for nothing!

Buy it at Insound!

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Ray Mang


When I was younger and on a major Pizzicato Five/Shibuya-kei rampage, I remember taking a great liking to Ursula 1000, partially due to the fact that he used a P5 sample in one of his older cuts.

I'm not saying that the loungey heyday of Ursula 1000, Thievery Corporation, and other related artists has come back full swing, but many DJ's seem to be attracted once again to the swanky melodies and rhythms of old jazz jams ... Latin American stuff in particular.

One such act is Ray Mang, a.k.a. Raj Gupta, a London-based disc-jockey who contemporizes the bossa nova and swinger lounge vibes of old. Imagine a Westernized Fantastic Plastic Machine or Konishi Yasuharu in 2008. That's essentially what this guy's like. (He actually toured Japan last year!)

Check out a few cuts below. "Praia do Londres" is pretty old -- it was originally released as an R&S Records 12" and later included on an Eskimo Recordings LP -- but certainly worth putting on repeat. I'm including "Angel" as a sort of joke -- I'm assuming that Gupta intended it as such himself ... Gupta accidentally sent me a bad copy of "Angel," so download it again now and you'll have the authentic MP3. It's a slower jam that just is all at once soothing and exceedingly catchy.

Lather yourself with some sunscreen, throw a linen shirt and Fedora on, grab a Corona, and relax to the smooth beats of Ray Mang on an island in the sun somewhere.

Ray Mang - Praia Do Londres

Ray Mang - Angel

Buy it at Insound!

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7.7.08

John & Jehn


John & Jehn is London's latest über-hip duo that pulls simultaneously from old psychedelic acts of the 1960s, garage innovators, and the loungier efforts of outfits like Stereolab. Imagine a pared down reincarnation of the Velvet Underground with a more minimal sound and twist of Jesus & Mary Chain shoegaze grit.

At times, they nearly sound like Serge Gainsbourg trying to ape Nico, but at no point do they come off as purely derivative and they remain oddly sweet throughout every song. John & Jehn are endlessly arty -- imagine them playing with Lissy Trullie and Marnie Stern -- but they never get too heady or dense so as to make them un-enjoyable. They're loads of fun, and even if they're brooding over Voltaire's Candide and studying Charles Mingus at present, we can't help but love them to death.

Pick up the eponymous debut full-length right here.

John & Jehn - 20 L 07
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5.7.08


Music Related's digital imprint, Creation Centre has a new, fabulous release by the soft-spoken Daisuke Miyatani (MySpace).

The Awaji Island native is an incredibly mellow electronic composer who merges the peaceful calm of the Lost In Translation sound Westerners have come to associate with Japan and the curious energy of fellow folk musicians like Shugo Tokumaru, for example. There's an ethereal quality to the songs that makes them seem other-worldly, but the deeply personal qualities of the syrupy slow arrangements brings them back to real life.

Check out one MP3 below and download the entire three-track EP, Fragments, right here.

Daisuke Miyatani - Genkide-ne

Buy it at Insound!

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4.7.08

Jaguar Farm

It being the Fourth of July in Los Angeles, it seems only fitting to celebrate another Los Angelino's music. Jaguar Farm is the solo project of Alex Ladarola, a budding songwriter who claims Liars, Animal Collective, Philip Glass, Neu!, Franz Schubert, Steve Reich, Stereolab, Frédéric Chopin, and Kraftwerk as influences. While he doesn't muster up to the more classical on that list and isn't quite as intense as the more modern acts, there's something utterly smart about his wacky pop sensibilities. "Baby's On Fire" -- a Brian Eno cover -- is reminiscent of an Ariel Pink rambling with some delicate and thoughtful orchestral undertones ... almost as though he worked with Owen Palette on it. "Blizzard" sounds like a lo-fi Zappa covering the Unicorns; "Land of 1000 Lakes" dabbles with jazzier arrangements and sparser production. While all the songs are especially sketchy -- they are demos! -- they're all boldly self-aware and ambitious. Hook this guy up with a fancy studio and he'll do some wild stuff with his endearing tunes. Jaguar Farm - Baby's On Fire (Brian Eno Cover) Jaguar Farm - Blizzard Jaguar Farm - Land of 1000 Lakes Buy it at Insound!

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