After The Jump Festival coming atcha!
august twenty-fifth, two thousand and seven
line-up to be announced shortly
curated by the people behind:
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The boss (that's J to most of you) is a pretty mellow guy who writes pretty pretty songs. If I had to describe my view of his aesthetic to a stanger I'd mention Elliot Smith with some covert Kobain lurking about the profound edges. Oh yes, he and his lady both sing really well.
Ok, that's out of my system. I only bring it up because I think he'll like what's here.
I kept meaning to see All About Lily Chou Chou. Really, I did. Ever since d told me that my idol had a brief mention in it I had it permanently scarred into my mental back burner. Now I am in Japan and I have yet to see it.
Hey, the air is warm and full of moisture and the nearest rental miles away. Excuses, excuses, I know. But that doesn't mean I haven't been paying attention. Years ago a friend who knew I leapt upon anything that breathed Japanese suggested I listen to SALYU. aka the fictional Lily Chou Chou so I did.
His offering was a collabortaion between hip-hop artist Ilmari x Salyu called Valon. I listened to it for a little while and stopped. Salyu, I decided, did not interest me. Ilmari is a member of RIP SLYME and I am baffled by their music. I did not want to be baffled by Salyu, but I was still trying to wrap my mind around Shiina Ringo's Karuki Zamen Kuri no Hana at the time.
How wrong I was to shun Salyu. I really ought to have seen that movie.
So recently I wised up and got hold of the Lily Chou Chou soundtrack. On it, I found songs that I think the boss should cover someday. Ok, even if he doesn't and even if I am way off the radar (as oft I can be), I am allowed to fantasize. Salyu likes people he likes and likes may overlap.
Her debut single,GLIDE, is a song with a watercolor palette. Elliot Smith composed music in the same vein. It's gray as gentle rain and soothing in a way you don't want to end. Like the boss, it's full of darkness and ether. I wake up with it in my head some days. Her voice has all the velvet charm of UA, though much younger. UA is aged like fine wine and can growl like Joplin given the incilation. Salyu not so much.
Does Redяum not want to be found? I had to search high and low for them. Stupid backwards R. May they all have backwards babies! (I joke, I do) Redяum, however, shouldn't feel the need to hide. For those seeking Japanese music without the squeak, may I offer the Far East anwer to Portishead? Yumi's vocals are mesmerizing. I'm gonna ramble off metaphors now like they were yellow M&Ms: woodsmoke, Vicodin, night sky, burgundy, incense, boot to the head, etc.
James Iha composed the music for a movie about a high school BLUE HEARTS cover band. The track Yasashii Jikan or "Gentle Time" is exactly that, I think. Thanks James Iha, you're better than a long slow drag when it comes to nerves.
Crap, there goes the bell. Gotta go to class.
Care to partake? いかがでしょうか？ (There's lyrics and translations for ya too, in case you wanna sing along. You're welcome. ^^)
At times moody but always catchy, The Exeter Popes deliver jangly, melodic pop with ease. Relaxed vocals bend while guitar, bass, and drums give and take to all fit into the atmospheric puzzle that is 'Snow, Mountain, Geisha', allowing keyboards, hand claps, and tamborine to fall into the mix.
A standout track for me is 'Fair Weathered Friend', a delicate tune accented by a marching drum and shakers, reminiscent of The Red House Painters in mood and The Ocean Blue in melody.
Explain it if you can
Ready for a refreshing grapefruit sorbet between courses, hipsters? I've got more showtunes for you.
I'm compiling a mix. I do this all the time, painting from my limited palette, dipping into the same few artists over and over again. I try to branch out, really I do, but I keep coming back to my favorites.
All right, clearly my favorite songs are the ones you find in musicals. My secret fantasy is to walk down the street and have everyone burst into song around me, magically harmonizing and knowing the next line without having to think about it. This is The Dream.
But showtunes ain't all I listen to. I categorize my music into "showtunes" and "not showtunes". The mix I'm making straddles both of my musical worlds. I'm trying to compile tracks of showtunes sung by, for lack of a better word, "civilians"; people who are not known primarily for being Broadway or theatre singers. I have a few rules:
1. No pop artists that actually starred in the musical in question. So, for example, even if you did, for some reason, want to include a Deborah/Debbie Gibson song, you would not be permitted to have her singing anything from Cabaret, since she starred as Sally Bowles for a spell. But who didn't?
2. Only one song per tribute album. No matter how much I love Wig in a Box, the Hedwig and the Angry Inch tribute album, I have to narrow it down to one track only.
3. Nothing by singers who are known primarily for musical theatre. I may adore Bernadette Peters and the late Jerry Orbach, but they have no place on my civilians list.
4. No crap. That means nothing from Phantom. Actually, most Lloyd-Weber is out, as is anything from any of those ridiculous faux-musicals with titles like "Jekyll and Hyde" or "Footloose: The Musical". Stevie Wonder singing that bonus track from Rent is verboten. I realize this rule is highly subjective, and also, I'm a snob. That's cool, because you're hipsters, so you're not reading this anyway.
Okay. This is what I have so far:
- Never Never Land - Todd Rundgren From Peter Pan. My friend Ade used to play this to wake me up in the morning when I would visit her in Michigan. I don't really know anything about Todd Rundgren except that he's Liv Tyler's Dad, and he produced the XTC album Skylarking, of which I am very fond. I love his strangely sweet and psychedelic take on this song. So very un-Mary Martin, which makes it delicious.
- Summertime - The Zombies - I love The Zombies. I love this song. I vacillate back and forth between the Paul Robeson version and this one. I want to sing this song all season long. I've never seen Porgy and Bess, but this song reminds me that I probably should, at some point.
- I Guess I'll Miss the Man - Diana Ross - One of my pet musicals is Pippin. Ben Vereen is a hero of mine, based solely on his magical performance in that show. The songs are very early Stephen Schwartz, and this song is one of my least favourites as performed by whatsherface in the Original Cast Recording (OCR), but I think Diana Ross makes it listenable. I was torn between this and her version of Corner of the Sky from said musical, but I'm pretty burned out on that song, and anyway, I like the way John Rubinstein sang it.
- Til There Was You - The Beatles. I didn't see The Music Man until I was about 20 (again, my friend Ade) so I never realized this song came from that until then. I think Paul kicks Shirley Jones' ass up and down the street, but I don't really like her voice.
- Tear Me Down - Spoon. OK, I don't know who Spoon is, but they do a better job with covering this than Meatloaf did. Anyway, I really do own this album, or at least I thought I did; I think my sister took it to Japan before I could rip it, so I had to make do with what I could find on Limewire. My favorite track is actually Cyndi Lauper's cover of "Midnight Radio, but I can't find that one. Boo. Kirsten, give me that CD back, willya?
So that's all I have so far. Suggestions? Anyone still here?
Things to go through if you're going anywhere
Due to something or other not being renewed, our mp3s are unavailable at the moment. Until then please enjoy...
Stand! (Live)/Sly & The Family Stone (video)
Umbrella (feat. Jay-Z)/Rihanna (video)
What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy)/The Information Society (video)
Live With Me/Where Did You Sleep Last Night (Live)/The Twilight Singers and Mark Lanegan (video)
Sleep To Dream/I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got (Live)/Bettye Lavette (video)
All Along the Watchtower (Feat. Jack Bruce and Richard Thompson) (Live)/Bob Dylan
Hey yo hey,
It's Summer again and I'm fucked, yesiree. Screwed. Fouled. Besmirched.
Summer by the Japan Sea is unusual and tricksy, it is. A fair wind may blow and the sun may shy away like some tarty wallflower but stand around idling and you'll end up broiled like a capon on a spit.
A well meaning arsehole once informed me that the Japanese artists I have for years idolized would be "nowhere if Janis hadn't choked on her coke".
Whatever, daddy. Janis Ian is alive and well.
I've heard flack a-plenty for what I listen to, even from the Japanese. I can't be annoyed or anything. It's just taste.
Though it may be argued that artists worldwide may never have plucked their first life-changing chords or written their first smack-induced tribute to sex/love/peace without the example of Morrison, Hendrix and Joplin, the Japanese music industry was thriving long before Janis even scored her first roach clip.
Akiko Wada's classic, あの鐘を鳴らすのはあなた (The One Who'll Ring the Bell is You) has got some soul. Complete with bubble afro, bell bottoms and polyester. She belts it hard like Aretha and croons low like Turner. She sounds more like she's singing from the steps of a brownstone in the Bronx than Western Japan. Nicknamed "The Empress" for her impressive stature, she has been covered, adored and ridiculed with the best. She's ethnically Korean, by the way. Not Japanese. Bravo, my dear. Bravo.
The Peanuts are a campy twin sister duo from Nagoya who communicate telepathically with Mothra. Koi no Balance or "Love Balance" is the track that got away from KILL BILL. It's so 60's you can fairly smell the Kitty Galore. I like to strut down the street to this and eye walls where I can hide from the man in the gabardine suit (he's a spy).
The 1969 award-winning いいじゃないの幸せならば (If Only We Were Happy) by Sagara Naomi 佐良直美 is a slow mournful melody that belongs in a small shady tobacco-stained cafe in Havana surrounded by toucans and unshaven revolutionaries. May this song soften their souls and make their mojitos go down colder.
I know I've mentioned Koi no Kisetsu Season of Love by Pinky and the Killers here before but because it fits, I'm going to do it again. Listen to this song! It's groovy, baby. Another hit from 1969, this one sends the grannies into a frenzy. It makes everyone wanna do the hand jive or a quirky little hip wiggle in a tiny skirt/white patent leater go go boots combo whenever it plays.
Go to Misora Hibari's sexy sexy official website. Proof she was the Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland AND Shirley Temple of her hemisphere. Dig that intro, oooh!
Here is a YouTube clip of her as a twelve year old scamp performing one of my favorite songs "Tokyo Kid". How loveable. Come on.
Another classic song by Misora called "Omatsuri Mambo". Summer in Japan means "festivals" or "matsuri". In this rump-shakin number you'll hear the traditional boisterious cry of "WASHHOI!" The meaning is somewhat unclear but it's used by the men who carry the shrine on their backs to promote teamwork and happiness.
Going to end on a song that calls for a scene.
Japanese traditional inns (ryokan) are hella creepy. Everything from the creaky floors to the inevitable ancient proprietress taking your credit info wants to give you the impression that you are a guest of a family. You will not see a front desk or a bellhop lingering around for a tip. You are entering an intimate environment, one that has been very lived in.
Most ryokan boast a collection of treasured family heirlooms in their rooms, some so decrepit that they might have made out with a Shogun or two. The Japanese have a great respect for the essences of old things and where there are old things, there is also mold.
Ok, all the ryokans I've stayed in were dirt cheap, scary and wonderful. Cracked walls, dusty tatami mats, the reek of years clinging to used and threadbare futons. A veritable playground for allergens and ghosts, both of whom could choke me. The last one I stayed in had a faintly smiling Japanese doll behind a dusty cracked glass case. A little girl wearing a faded kimono with bleeding hems. Her black eyes were painted wide open and her tiny scar of a mouth was so worn you could barely see it.
She and not Yukie Saori should have sung Yoake no Scat. One of those addictive haunting melodies that makes me want to keep the lights on. The song is meant for lovers and where they go when they first meet. "A world without time." It's got that echoey doom of The End Of The World by Skeeter Davis and all the allure of Sound of Silence by you know who. Wouldn't it have been something if ol' Art covered this one? I never liked The Yellow Monkey until they did.
And yeah, O-Ran should have kicked it to this one.
If you'd like to hear these tracks, I've uploaded them to a zip file. Because I do not know how things work, I can only hope I did it right.
The sun will bring back treasures for us
We've been to a few places in the past year. We have been to Belmar and Isla Mujeres. We made it to Chincoteague but we didn't see the swimming ponies. We went to Woodstock and endured well water showers and overcame bear-nerves. Also Moosebeck!, where we listened to Vivaldi in a pseudo hobbit house. Sometimes we don't go too far. We went to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and counted over a dozen rabbits. That was a good trip.
It's not always adventure. At home, he's witnessed my walking into doorways several times weekly and sat through many demonstrations on "the proper way" to do a booty dance. He's endured several marathon viewings of America's Next Top Model AND Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School. And amazingly, he hasn't run away screaming. Even when I argue about bands we love. Apparently, he's cool with that.
This mix is for Jeremy.* Some of these songs are very familiar and have been chosen for their familiarity and some not so much, but I think they will make him laugh.
D + J = 4 Mix**
1. Be Here To Love Me/Townes Van Zandt (mp3)
2. Untitled/Interpol (mp3)
3. I Love You More Than Words Can Say/Otis Redding (mp3)
4. Abba Zabba/Captain Beefheart (mp3)
5. One Thing (Album version)/Amerie (mp3)
6. Like a Hurricane (Unplugged)/Neil Young (mp3)
7. Backdrifts/Radiohead (mp3)
8. Thirteen/Big Star (mp3)
9. You Really Got A Hold On Me/Bring It On Home To Me/The Zombies (mp3)
10. Rings/The Muggabears (mp3)
11. You Done My Brain In/Bonzo Dog Dooh Dah Band (mp3)
12. You Came Through/PJ Harvey (mp3)
13. Live With Me/The Rolling Stones (mp3)
14. Need Your Love So Bad/Little Willie John (mp3)
15. Love Machine (Live Lounge)/Arctic Monkeys (mp3)
16. Ojala/Silvio Rodriguez (mp3)
17. To Love Somebody/Nina Simone (mp3)
18. You're So Great/Blur (mp3)
19. Yellow/Petra Haden and Bill Frissell (mp3)
Feliz aniversario mi monito.
* Considering my feelings for the gent, this mix could've been WAY cheesier. I was this close to including R.Kelly's You Remind Me of My Jeep.
Besides, this mix also includes songs about unrequited love, bad love and baboon love.
** These mp3s, for understandable reasons, will only be available for a VERY limited time. If you like a song, email me, I'll tell you where you can buy the album.