Hey yo hey,

Happiness reigns.

Dear Japan,

Why do you kick your own arse? You create gems and then you HIDE them. When a movie fails in Japan, you have to hunt far and wide for it. Pathetically for me, I adore most of what Japan considers to be crap. Take, for example, a movie called OVERDRIVE. There is next to no info on it. Even the IMDB is vague. I have doubts as to whether it's really even Japanese. I have a vague suspicion the director is Swedish.


I love Shamisen. I do I do I do. This movie is one long shamisen porn starring (oh jesus god there's another??) HAWT shamisen player, Masahiro Nitta. As expected, the Yoshida Brothers DID have a cameo. How could they not?

The story: One fateful night, hounded by media and papparazzi, a disenchanted Tokyo rock guitarist flees into a cab. The driver, a classic old man, gives him a classic unknown drink and he passes out classically. He regains consciousness to find himself in the backwoods of Aoyama with a tab of $2,000.

The old man, sent by Destiny (Destiny as portrayed by ubercute hip hop vixen, Sayuri) has shanghaied our unwitting protagonist to Shamisen Boot Camp where he will undergo rigorous training in order to return to his Japanese roots and discover the hidden star within himself. Yes, he'll win the competition, win the girl and Destiny will be silenced.

A clever comedy with a killer soundtrack. Can anything be finer? The movie is full of the East vs West turmoil. With the wave of shamisen players these days gaining rock-star status, I would have thought it would get more acclaim in its native land. Oh well. It's a fact. Traditional Japanese culture is cool everywhere BUT Japan.

Their loss.

Throughout his journey, the protagonist's thoughts are broken by interludes from Destiny who parades around in fanciful hairstyles and furisode to rap about the current dillemma. The interludes are less than a minute long and they tickled my fancy. Some mergings of traditional and modern piss me off for reasons I won't rant about here but this didn't. Why? Because the shamisen in the background is fucking kickass and Sayuri manages to rap like she's folkin it. Is she talking to the gods or us? Couldn't tell ya.

Eh, if you an find this film, rent it? Try KIM'S.

And now, samples. Cuz you probably won't find them unless you buy the soundtrack which was next to impossible to find here.


(the woman screaming in the background hates guitars)



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watch the songs expire

dear friends,

1. little monkey random friday selection...

bola bola - gorky's zygotic mynci

these welsh psychedelic pastoralists released a singles collection some time ago which I purchased & adored. if someone singing in welsh doesn't faze ya, & neither does twee with hidden fangs, then go for it. I heartily recommend.

freddie's dead - fishbone

for me this song will forever be the song that contributor travis did not own & therefore couldn't play when I requested it at one of his parties. of course listening to this eightified curtis mayfield cover now, I realize it would've stopped the party cold. so perhaps it's all for the best.

strings of nashville - pavement

this is one of my absolute favorite pavement b-sides. it's as close to a lullaby as malk & company ever got. I don't know what their intention was but the combination of the drum/wave/highway noise, the unobtrusive guitar work & s.m.'s tired whisper makes me think of what it's like to be alone, lonely & listening to records late at night. beautiful.

flashlight - parliament

damn! how this goes on & on. so simple but so ridiculously catchy, every time I get down to this I can't believe I'm still dancing to the same basic groove 4 minutes later. if I happen to hear this booming from a passing car, I always start twitching my shoulders to the music like a very funky little robot. I can't help it, it just happens.

the tv show, angel (yes, the buffy spin off) featured this karaoke bar run by demons where those who sang would reveal their inner selves as they croaked tunes like mandy by barry manilow. well, fantasy television universes (-si?) aside, I've always thought that people reveal their souls when they dance to this song. I'm serious. put it on sometime at a party. observe.

bear island - draculazombieusa*

ha ha ha ha. my ipod is trying to mess with me.

first time I heard this song, I thought it was about someone taking an ill-advised camping expedition to the aleutians. like that timothy treadwell guy from grizzly man. apparently, all my opinions about what dzusa songs are about are WAY off. & I'm totally fine with that. I can still enjoy the jingle bell like keyboards blips & vocal layers, even as I butcher the words. hydraphonic albacore anyone?

I'm gonna run - the fiery furnaces

sounds like your typically exciting roadhouse blues travel song. 'cept this strange woman is babbling over it in an agitated way. add a cube of beefheart. serve warm.

my drug buddy - the lemonheads

you know, I never had any love for evan dando or juliana hatfield. no love. but this song is great. I can see all the young, dumb, aimless moments that fill up this song & feel the tenderness in hatfield's back up vocals. like cold fingers interlaced with yours as you cross the street. there's an excellent kcrw version of this song, that's definitely worth searching for.

give him a great big kiss - the shangri-la's

"when I say I'm in love, best believe I'm in love, l-u-v!" that says it all.

2. sometimes I think people assume I'm braver than I really am because I tend to say whatever's on my mind regardless of whether it makes me appear ignorant &/or uncouth. I'm not brave AT ALL. having been through a few actual life or death situations, I can confirm that I crumple under pressure. no heroic antics for me. ya see, I don't like the rush of fear. now before you retort, no one likes the rush of fear, let me explain that I don't even go on roller coasters because I know I will be miserable. leisure (pronounced: lay-zurr-ay) time for me is quiet & calm as glass. I hate thrill rides! or do I?

while public performance is not life or death (usually), it also makes me clammy, nervous, nauseous, etc... however, I always manage to get myself involved with those. I actually volunteer. perhaps, they are my roller coaster rides. triple loops? falls into darkness? yetis? no problem. I'll stand in that metaphorical queue cursing under my breath. & afterwards, I sit in a corner, trying to remember how to breathe. & then, sometime later, when given the opportunity, I'll get in line again. much to my own chagrin.

SO, yes. tonight! a concert! 4 bands! a birthday party! for a label that's very close to my heart!

I'll be taking part in the shenanigans despite the fact that I a) am funny looking, b) have this much (squeezes fingers together) actual music performance experience & c) have a paralyzing fear of singing in public! whoo! no matter! all the other people involved are PROs with mad skillz! they will rock you so thoroughly that you'll forget to get your between act pizza from that place on union. you won't starve, you'll be rawk-fed.

3. in case you haven't seen it elsewhere, man in gray has a video! watch it here. I particularly like the look of the snowy rooftop. & of that handsome blond gent on the sidelines. purr.

love, d

songs to seek: bola bola/gorky's zygotic mynci, freddie's dead/fishbone, strings of nashville/pavement, flashlight/parliament, bear island/draculazombieusa, I'm gonna run/the fiery furnaces, my drug buddy/the lemonheads, give him a great big kiss/the shangri-la's

* if you come to tonight's southpaw show, you will have the pleasure of witnessing contributor tina sing this number. she will not accidentally sing about manatees or herbivores. & that's a promise!


As Soon As I Get to You, Baby

[Reposted from Fireballs & Tsunami because I must spread the magic].

A few weeks ago I was painstakingly organizing my needlessly distended, 8,400-track iTunes collection (adding album artwork, et cetera). While searching for the name of the artist who originally recorded the oft-misattributed "I Want Candy" (the Strangeloves, it turns out) I stumbled upon the All Music Guide page for a British band called THE TREMELOES.

As a serious music fan -- especially of 1960s UK rock music -- I shook my head, flabbergasted, and wanted to punch myself in the neck for never having listened to the Tremeloes before. AMG has a total hard-on, and rightfully so, for this little-known gem of a band who allegedly beat the Beatles in a January 1962 battle of the bands (reports vary).

I uploaded one of their excellent B-sides, "Even the Bad Times Are Good," HERE for your listening pleasure. AMG proclaims its "beats, harmonies, and hooks half the groups in England or America would have killed to put together." This is no hyperbole; it's dubious you'll listen and not be overcome with an uncontrollable urge to 1) dance, 2) air guitar, or 3) form your own band. I have, without a doubt, annoyed my neighbors raucously singing along to the "la la la la la la la la las."

The Tremeloes, like their 1960s British contemporaries the Sonics, Beatles, and Rolling Stones, also recorded a ton of covers including Cat Stevens' "Here Comes My Baby," the Isley Brothers' "Twist and Shout," Roy Orbison's "Candy Man," and the Contours' "Do You Love Me," all of which charted well on both sides of the Atlantic.

AMG claims that "it's difficult for anyone who has heard them not to like — or even love — the Tremeloes. " As usual, AMG has hit the nail on the head. But good luck finding Tremeloes information online; I've done some exhaustive searches, and seems as if AMG is one of the few sites willing to extensively review their work. Let me know if you'd like me to IM or burn you some tracks. And the always-competent Amazon offers several of their recordings.

Additional Tremeloes biography HERE; discography HERE.

P.S. Speaking of music, I've joined the ranks of My Space users who attack you with audio. It never occurred to me to add a song to my My Space profile but after some consideration, I finally decided to include one. It's not my first choice (I would have liked Jeanette's "Porque te Vas" or Del Shannon's "Runaway" or a Tremeloes tune; all were unavailable), but I did the best I could. Snap.


What comes is better than what came before

Dear friends,

I've had December '05 as my desk calendar for some time. I think I might change it today but this also means I will have to transfer all the scribbled information I have on it to the new calendar and it's a mess. I'm a mess. Everything is a mess.

Truth is I need a vacation more than I can say. I got fragrant Valentine's roses in various colors on my desk and I'm off to Disneyworld on Saturday for one day and that is all lovely, but I think I need more than that. I need several weeks off somewhere different. Someplace that's not landlocked. Anyone with any suggestions, please pass them onto me.

I'm gonna let the Little Monkey pod do its random thing today but with commentary:

1. Hold on, I'm coming/Sam and Dave

When I was a kid, I bought Sam and Dave's Greatest Hits at the White Plains Woolsworth's on the strength of Soul Man (duh). This particular track must be one of my earliest lip synch favorites. I know, cute kid singing into hairbrush. Not really. I think it would look quite disconcerting to see a kid mouthing the "Reach out to ME for satisfaction gua-ran-teeed" part of this song. Which is why I guess children's music exists. Sigh.

2. If It's Water/The Evens

I have never heard this before. Ever, ever. I must have this because of Contributor Phil who wrote about them here on Soft Communication. I like this. The lady's got a flat affect type singing voice I find strangely fetching. And there's a nice repeated guitar part/groove that's sounds like walking hurriedly through gray streets in winter when you have to make an important cash drop-off. Ok, no one really does this 'cept in movies. But I pretend to do this all the time. To make a very boring walk though Gowanus more interesting, natch.

3. Image Change/Elastica

Truth be told I haven't listened to this album in a while. Last I heard, Justine Frischmann was hosting an architecture show on BBC and mentoring M.I.A on the side. I went to see Elastica live back in the day and it was such a GREAT concert. I remember thinking for a heavy browed woman with no make-up, wearing visibly dirty clothes, Frischmann exuded amazing sexual charisma, charisma that made her gender irrelevant. In that moment, I wished fervently that I had THAT, what she had. Yeah.

Back to the song...the vocals just started after an extended intro. Man, I love Wire and this has one of those double tracked dull intonations found in their later stuff. Not that Elastica and Wire are surprising sentence mates. Didn't they co-write a song on this album or something? As a bone throw settlement after the lawsuit for Connection/Line Up? I'm making shit up again, aren't I?

4. Fu-gee-la (Sly & Robbie mix)/The Fugees

Ha, this is hilarious. (Dances in chair) Right now, I really, really wish I still had my copy of Sly and Robbie present Taxi. That was good Saturday night music.

5. Zig Zag Wanderer/The Rogers Sisters

I might be totally off but weren't these ladies in a 90's indie band called Ruby Falls? Anyone who can confirm or deny*, gets the Covers Mix - part 2. I gotta hand it to these folks for covering Captain Beefheart and still making it sound like another entry into the post punk dance sweepstakes. No rip, I like to dance. Especially to guitars. And coincidentally, the guitars at the end sound very Cure circa Primary. Must find out what effect pedal that is. Sounds corrosive.

6. Human Nature/Michael Jackson

Eh. What? I like this song. If I could ice skate, like professionaly, I would do a routine to this song. With an outfit based on the Thriller jacket design.

7. She's So High/Blur

This songs sounds like falling in love. When your brain is on drugs. And you roll on grass. True story. Not mine.

8. Skttrbrain (Four Tet Remix)/Radiohead

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Four Tet remixes. The song is always stripped down to something breathable and organic. And my ears rejoice, because all of a sudden, a ton of hidden elements come to the foreground. Like in this case: the bell changes that signal the constant mind-shifts of this song's protagonist.

9. Angelene/PJ Harvey

I love crooning along to this song. Polly Jean Harvey infuses her story about a wanton woman and a looming Jesus figure with such a bruised yearning for grace. Listen to the song and try and follow her transition from verses/resigned to chorus/hopeful. Masterful.

Masterful? Oh my god, I'm such a fawner.

10. What She Said/The Smiths

"It took a tattooed boy from Birkenhead/To really, really open her eyes." This is the song that brings a knowing smile to all teens of the outsider persuasion.

11. Mannish Boy/Muddy Waters

I think my favorite moment in The Last Waltz is this performance. Namely, because I love watching the sheer freakin' delight in Robbie Robertson and Co's eyes as they back the man on this. They are so unbelievably psyched and that enthusiasm gets channeled into their rendition. Watch 'em scream. Ain't that a man.

12. I Found a Reason/Yo La Tengo

This is definitely a Valentine's Day week song. And Ira Kaplan sings this cover with closed eyes sincerity. A little rock 'n' roll prayer never hurt no one.

Love, D

Songs to seek: Hold On, I'm Coming/Sam and Dave, If It's Water/The Evens, Image Change/Elastica, Fu-gee-la (Sly & Robbie Mix)/The Fugees, Zig Zag Wanderer/The Rogers Sisters, Human Nature/Michael Jackson, She's So High/Blur, Skttrbrain (Four Tet Remix)/Radiohead, Angelene/PJ Harvey, What She Said/The Smiths, Mannish Boy/Muddy Waters, I Found a Reason/Yo La Tengo

* Not Contributor Tina 'cause she won last time. Sorry T! You're way too on the ball (that's a good thing, ya know.)

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& in the evening, when we are sleeping

dear friends,

happy valentine's day! for those of you who are going to the deli party, I salute thee for you are are about to rawk. be sure to check out pink noise who perform songs about pixie dust with just enough guitar squall to confuse you in case you thought they were gonna be cute or something. for those who feel like being adventurous, I heartily recommend the lovely sounds of just about to burn. go listen to their shimmery nervous girl on their my space page. they're playing a FREE show tonight rare at 8:30. that leaves plenty of time to go to the deli party afterwards &/or turn your special someone OUT &/or go home & watch american idol.

here's a few songs suggestions for a tiny valentine's day playlist (minus the links/mp3s 'cause I ain't got no host, no host cares for me, no hostie etc...) --- feel free to add your good love/bad love suggestions in the comments, since I didn't make a very long list.

1. c'mere/interpol

half the time I have no idea what paul banks from interpol is going on & on about. the lyrics are like all these bizarre little phrases scribbled on envelopes strung together out of sheer lyrical necessity & bellowed by an automaton. however, "it's way too late/to be this locked inside ourselves/the trouble is/that you're in love with someone else/it should be me/oh it should be me" ties together like a ribbon adorning a box of unsolicited chocolates. not only is this song coherent lyrically but banks sells that shiz, his vocal softens & moves with the music in a way that says I mean it without being theatrical.

2. hyperballad/bjork

if you had, say, a morning ritual that involved getting up at dawn, throwing things off a cliff, idly imagining your own fall-induced demise followed by going home, climbing into bed & nestling into the warmly sleeping figure of your lover then this would be your theme song. interestingly, while I have no such ritual, I understand exactly what she means. & that is why bjork's tales of state of emergencies & boys like you have a special place for certain romantic types.

3. how can I tell you?/cat stevens

I love the cat. I always have since I was an itty bitty d in a tan fun fur jacket getting lost in department stores. I learned how to use a turntable (a developmental milestone!) by playing tea for the tillerman endlessly. now, if you have a problem with the sleeve & the heart, the cat is not for you. how can I tell you is an earnest & direct statement of I heart you to someone who is not around. whether this is by choice or by circumstance, is never made clear, what is clear is how the singer feels & boy, is he feeling. if you're willing to be just as unambivalent about someone as stevens is in this song or willing to feel this way at the peril of looking like ass or willing to feel this way without anyone finding out about it by brooding privately in your room, hugging your pillow, composing a dear diary entry in your head, then let this song in.

4. I put a spell on you/nina simone

come on! it can't all be nice & pretty. you gotta throw some drama in there & who else but miss simone to bring it. singing this tale of wronged lover voodoo, she is walnut voiced imperial & when she throws down vocally with that saxophonist at the end, it's goosebump inducing.


to love somebody/nina simone

if I put a spell... is too much scary for you, then opt for this other simone track where she covers the bee gees, aw heck, she STEALS their little song to love-affirming effect.

5. soft as snow (but warm inside)/my bloody valentine

I actually heard this at an impressionable age on the radio. it's pervy as hell, with processed ooh's & guitars like elephants on acid putting on an aerial show. I don't know about you but that's pretty much sums up how I express my lust.

6. sea of love/cat power

FULL DISCLOSURE: when I was a child & we had purloined cable, I loved me the honeydrippers version of sea of love. the honeydrippers? yeah, they were robert plant of led zeppelin & some other dudes doing weirdly eightified versions of songs from the 50's. they did this song with lots of angelic choir voices & general fromage. when I realized later in life that the production sound on this really was total shit, I also knew that no amount of cheese could destroy this song. it's so simple & so lulling just like a calm ocean, which I suppose means that a real sea of love is still. I can accept that. so go listen to chan & her autoharp sound like walking down the steps of a beach house to that shimmering sea.

love, d

ps come to think of it, the tom waites version of sea of love is good too. meh.

bands to go see live: pink noise, just about to burn


Songs For your Sadness


My Prefecture is poor. So I am out a contract. A tragic week indeed. A slump not cured by booze or cigarettes. Not even Harry Belafonte can shake my sorrow. I have been lying in bed all weekend caring nothing for my being (ie stench) and listening to my plague-stricken comrade tell me of the palette of yellow she's producing. Yuck. Yuck. YUCK!!!

I am heartbroken. I love my job and my students and now I have to leave them for something uncertain. Can I get weepy for sec?


The brat on the left is Ichiro. He handles English like he was born with it and always talks in class. I will miss the little punk and the way he always sticks his hand in his pocket when he speaks to me. He, like most 13 year olds, is obsessed with Harry Potter. So ya know I went out and found "Voldemort Can't Stop the Rock" by Harry and the Potters and burned it just for him.

You don't stand a chance against Gryffindor
We got the best Quidditch Team that the school has seen

Yeah, yeah I'm lame.
The Foo Fighters' "Everlong" matches my shade right now. That and about anything by the Peppers. "I Could Have Lied", for one.

Went to a farewell party at the karaoke joint. Gaijin vs Nihonjn (The US soccer team destroyed Japan in San Francisco, btw. YAPPA! IN YOUR FOOKIN FACE KAWAGUCHI! The ball, that is.)

Let me give three examples of songs that will forever be funny at karaoke:

1) Anything For Love - Meatloaf

Fuck, this song is funny out of karaoke. Let the drunk gaijin unite.

2) We Didn't Start the Fire- Billy Joel

Wanna see the Japanese hurt?

3) Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious- Julie Andrews

Nuff said.

I have noticed a lot of Okinawa floating around. Three of the recent top-selling Japanese pop groups have hailed from the Ryuukan kingdom. HY, Orange Range and Namie Amuro. HY has been labeled "indie". By that I suppose they haven't yet had to back POCKY or some J-drama to sell their craft. I believe it is only a matter of time. Sure they bite from US pop (like most) but they're not above adding a shansin to the chorus. Thanks guys.

As I am a fan of the old skool, Natsukawa Rimi's "Nada Sou Sou" (Stream of Tears) will still make me weep like a goddam child. Oh it's sap pure and simple. No getting around it.

Songs to Seek:

Nada Sou Sou/Natsukawa Rimi, Street Story/HY

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another drama by the kitchen sink tonight

dear friends,

1. a tune that would definitely be a hit in the phina household is the long blondes fast & crude darts. over slices of occasionally off-beat, wire-y, slightly out of tune guitar, a woman intones about her desire to play darts like a dominatrix version of justine frischmann. short & sharp & without, perhaps, the shock - this song is a hot slice of pleasing nonetheless.

for other sides to the long blondes (my space page here) try to find once and never again where beret & neck scarf sportin' frontwoman kate jackson gets to let loose in a molly ringwald dance way as she gives wise woman counsel to a 19 year old girl. also seek autonomy boy. this sexy, strutting vamp features one guitar line nicked from post punk 101 & another guitar line that's all slow grind & that's a combo I'm always down with. jackson has a voice that goes from tentative in her upper register & then forward & full throated in her lower register. that alto is her power move, 'cause when she rocks it, as she does in this song, you pretty much have to give in to her charms.

2. go visit twee pop love! which gave a nice shout out to contributor mike's one man project automat. at the end of the post there is a link to automat's my space page where you can listen to several lo-fi pop tracks like princeton train which perfectly captures the feeling of a foggy dayquil type of morning on a nearly empty train platform. you've missed the train (of course) & as you sip & spill your lukewarm coffee, this song is composing itself in your head.

3. even though it strays from their bossa nova template, for sheer amusement you should listen to a ridiculously accented bela lugosi's dead as done by nouvelle vague now available at itunes as part on an exclusive e.p.* don't buy that one though if you only want one song, go instead for their sensuously light rendition of the smiths classic sweet and tender hooligan. despite the usual moz lyrics about infatuations with hard man types, this version sways like a tipsy twirl on a tropical beach.

love, d

songs to seek: darts/the long blondes, once and never again/the long blondes, autonomy boy/the long blondes, princeton train/automat, sweet and tender hooligan/nouvelle vague

* unfortunately, there are no crazy camille appearances on this e.p. which is a shame 'cause with her big ole volatile to lyrical range she is by far my favorite of their chanteuses. maybe next time...


alright, i'm gonna like her

For those of you who are fellow aficianados of bad '70s and '80s music, go download the song "Tommy, Judy and Me" via my blog. They don't write 'em like that anymore. You decide whether or not that's a good thing.

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The World Could Show Nothing to Me

Researchers, have I got a job for you! The mission is yours if you choose to accept it.

1) During some routine iTunes organization, hidden in my collection of 8,213 tunes, I found a tune which I, at some point, labeled "The Party's Over" by a band called "Softkore." I have long suspected that after acquiring the tune a couple of years ago, I mislabeled it. My hunch seems to have been correct; I cannot seem to find any record of a band called "Softkore" having recorded a song of this title. So, I am imploring you, devout music fan, to take a listen and let me know if you have any idea which band recorded this song and if its actual title is indeed "The Party's Over."

Note: See THIS site for the song in question's lyrics. The person who runs that site attributes the tune to a band called TV Eyes, but subsequent Google searches have not provided any confirmation of this.

Note #2: The fantastic band Talk Talk released an album with this title in the 1980s, but the song in question is certainly not by Talk Talk; it's by a newer, hipster-y band.

2) I am trying to remember the name of a director and film which includes this very memorable scene: A long shot of a car with a young male passenger, who has a look of terror frozen on his face. As the camera moves closer, the car door opens, water gushes out, and the drowned man collapses on the ground. All I can remember is the film is from the 1960s or 1970s.

Your input is much appreciated, as I am slowly spiraling into lunacy trying to solve the two aforementioned mysteries.