30 November 2009

Perfume vs. Beastie Boys

One of my favorite albums from last year was Perfume's Game, I played that album to death. If it were vinyl, the grooves would have worn down and the needle gone dull. I came across this vid randomly, as I think I was searching for Perfume remixes. This is much, much better than you think it will be.

Twiggy Twiggy

Londoners: the National Portrait Gallery currently has a roomful of Twiggy photographs from the '60s to the present on display (above: photograph by Barry Lategan, 1966). This is a good thing.

If you know me, you might be expecting me now to post, by way of audio caption, a certain shibuya-kei classic from 1991. How about instead we listen to a young Maki Nomiya's original version of that tune, sung in 1981, about nine years before she joined Pizzicato Five.

Maki Nomiya - Twiggy Twiggy

29 November 2009

Honki ponki, part 2

This would be OOIOO's all-kinds-of-lovely cover of Turkish singer Şenay's 1980 hit 'Honki Ponki', alluded to in my previous post.

OOIOO - Honki Ponki

Meanwhile, Mundos Disparatados (2009) by Buenos Aires-based artist Pablo Gamba seems apt. Have a nice day.

Honki ponki

You know what? There is not enough vintage Turkish pop in my life, nor in yours. So let's get educated with Şenay, apparently a popular diva of the 70s and early 80s.

The jaunty tune below, meanwhile, was rather straight-forwardly covered on OOIOO's recent Armonico Hewa, revealing a heretofore unarticulated connection between the Japanese noise avant-garde of today and the Anatolian bubblegum fodder of yore.

I'm of a mind to tumble down the rabbit hole of "related videos" on YouTube. Seeya later...

27 November 2009

26 November 2009

Ozark Gothic

Pressure-treated pine rising 48 feet and 425 windows don't always amount to much. To whit, check out Chicago's South Side. That said, Pine Bluff, Arkansas' E. Fay Jones imagined this Ozark Gothic structure in the middle of the woods, and that's where it sits today. Lights and shadows from the trees assure that Thorncrown Chapel never looks twice.

Edit: There may (or may not) have been a question of attribution here. The photos are mine.

Timing is Everything

I've been working diligently on my 2009 mix. It's a little bit longer than I initially thought it might be, but oh well, this is the stuff I liked. 2009 has been a pretty good year, even if I was attending less gigs. One of the more memorable events of 2009 is illustrated in the images below.

It was also a pretty good year for music. I tried to keep my tracklist low, but it slid up to 30 and I couldn't figure out what to cut. Therefore, I'm just gonna post the whole thing in its entire glory. Some of the songs are kinda long (5 tracks at 7 mins or more) and the entire mix clocks in around 2 hours and 15 minutes. But as I mentioned, this is the stuff I liked, for better or for worse. Check it out, maybe you'll like it. Burn an mp3 disc or stick it on your media player of choice. Scope the tracklist below, and download it here if it suits your fancy. Props to my buddy, @MiriamIsntFunny, from twitter (who also should be posting here as Semaphore Bronte) who inspired the mix title when I couldn't come up with a thing.

Timing is Everything

1. The Twilight Sad - I Became a Prostitute
2. Fleeting Joys - You Are The Darkness
3. The Raveonettes - Bang!
4. Afternoon Naps - Seasons May Change
5. Camera Obscura - French Navy
6. The Postmarks - Go Jetsetter
7. Phoenix - Love Like a Sunset
8. Perfume - edge (triangle mix)
9. Fever Ray - If I Had A Heart
10. Riceboy Sleeps - Daniell In The Sea
11. Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard - One Fast Move Or I'm Gone
12. Neko Case - I'm An Animal
13. Mayer Hawthorne - Your Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin'
14. Kleerup - Until We Bleed (With Lykke Li)
15. Asobi Seksu - Sunshower
16. Bat For Lashes - Pearl's Dream
17. El Perro Del Mar - Gotta Get Smart
18. The xx - Shelter
19. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Little Shadow
20. Sparklehorse & Fennesz - Goodnight Sweetheart
21. Bon Iver & St. Vincent - Roslyn
22. Summer Camp - Ghost Train
23. Sparklehorse & Danger Mouse - The Man Who Played God (feat. Suzanne Vega)
24. Fuck Buttons - The Lisbon Maru
25. Sweet Trip - Your World is Eternally Complete
26. I Was A King - Step Aside
27. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - This Love Is Fucking Right
28. St. Vincent - Marrow
29. Them Crooked Vultures - New Fang
30. ISIS - Stone To Wake A Serpent

Environment transformer

This post is a test of a better embeddable mp3 player for Pop Molecule. The song embedded therein is itself a test of a better way of expressing how one feels to one's dearest associates. The image chosen to illustrate said test is, in turn, a test of a better personal space designed in 1968 by visionary firm Haus Rucker. Finally, that last link is a test of one's comprehension in German (in my case, negligible) because English Wikipedia needs to get on the stick with an article about those guys.

Boards of Canada - The Colour of the Fire

25 November 2009

Will you still love me tomorrow

Check out this vid, it's Lykke Li covering the Shirelles' classic, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. It's pretty straightfoward, in a girl-and-her-piano fashion. I like the vulnerability she conveys with her voice, it's a lovely cover.

If you head over to Lykke Li's website, she'll send you the mp3 of this track for free, all you need to drop is an email addy. Pretty sweet deal, eh?

24 November 2009

Black Dynamite

If you live in the Bay Area, the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland is going to be screening Black Dynamite at midnight this Saturday. This blaxploitation parody looks like it could be ridiculously enjoyable, so I might give it a chance, seeing as how the theater is just down the street from where I live. I definitely could use a few laughs. Check out the trailer.

23 November 2009

Robots after all

A common denominator to a lot of best-of-decade lists surely is Daft Punk, really the ultimate crossover dance act everyone could agree on over the past ten years. I don't really mind this; I quite like them and their tremendous influence on our culture is pretty positive. (There are many worse things Kanye West could have gotten into.) But for my money, the pounding French house + rock riffage thing only does so much. In 2005, when the world was going nuts for Human After All, I was rather more taken with a cheerfully demented retort, Robots après tout, the eighth album by French pop singer Philippe Katerine. Here in 'Le train de 19h', if my French isn't mistaken, he sings about a train ride in which the conductor makes lewd puns, a young woman reads The Portrait of Dorian Gray while stroking her hair flirtatiously, and a fluorescent-haired art student claims to be endowed with the talent of self-fellation. In any case the journey ends with Katerine frantically shouting "Kiss me! Kiss me! Kiss me!" Like much of Katerine's output it's all kinda WTF, but this shit is rad.

22 November 2009

Decadeology: A veil of diamond dust

One of the biggest releases in the past ten years, for me, was Kate Bush's Aerial. I fell in love with her when I first came across her in the mid-eighties. Hounds of Love had just been released and I quickly grabbed her previous releases. In 1993, she put out The Red Shoes and I have to confess that I was disappointed. So I hoped it was just a minor misstep, even Kate Bush can make a mistake, and waited for the next album. And I waited and waited. Soon enough, it seemed like she had disappeared from music altogether. There would be whispers and rumours of a new album every now and then, but nothing. In the summer of 2005, another rumor popped up. Then, there was actually a single, and a shiny new website! The anticipation was killing me.

I picked up Aerial one day in early November and, let me tell you, it did not disappoint. It's difficult to quantify whether it was worth a twelve year wait or not (how would you really measure that?), but the fact that it was a solid album helped lessen the sting a bit. I'd say that
Nocturn is probably my favorite song on the album. It's the second to last track on the album and, to me, the preceding songs are like the steps that lead up to the pedestal of Nocturn. This song is the centerpiece of the album. The way it moves, it's very sensual. Not to mention the lyrics, running around on a beach naked, just before dawn. She's very good at painting pictures with her words.

Kate Bush > Nocturn

21 November 2009

Bolero rodeo

Bolero by Finnish artist Kirsti Miilumäki; with 'Rodéo' from Mickey 3D's Matador.

20 November 2009

Without entertaining another thought

This Polaroid by Anna Verlet prompts something in my brain to want to listen to Jens Lekman's cover of Arthur Russell's 'A Little Lost'.

19 November 2009

My other famous cousin

My favourite Knowles sister not named Irene (that'd be my actual sister) is obviously Solange. Here she is, above, with La La Vazquez apparently drunk and dancing to Animal Collective.

And here she is covering Dirty Projectors' 'Stillness Is The Move'. Sweet jam.

18 November 2009

Inactive and suspended

After yesterday's post on Kumisolo, the lovely people at Active Suspension have written to say that the label is indeed closed for good now; the album had been a long time in the making and its release was AS's last gasp. At #18 in the catalog it marks the end of an era. The good news is that label owner Julien Rohel is continuing with his other venture Clapping Music, which has also brought about some good stuff of the inde/folk/fractured pop persuasion. In keeping with today's hairy-wild-man-in-the-forest theme, here's a flashback to Clapping's 2006 album by Orval Carlos Sibelius:

The giant bunnies, they are coming

Stop for a second and watch Black To Comm's strangely affecting video for 'Hotel Freund'. I'm not sure of its source, but one of the youtube comments says it was taken from the 1976 low-budget horror/sci-fi film The Food of the Gods, in which animals turn giant-size to wreak ecological revenge on humanity. In any case the song is all kinds of darkly ambient badass. My review of the rest of Black To Comm's new album Alphabet 1968 is over at The Line of Best Fit.

17 November 2009

My love for you is a cheap pop song

I'm pretty pleased to hear that that Kumi Okamoto of The Konki Duet (and before that the shortlived but sweet J-Pop duo Crazy Curl) has just released her first solo album. Take a look at the (kinda peculiar) clip for single 'Danse Music'.

The appearance of My Love For You Is A Cheap Pop Song takes me a little by surprise, as it's the first Active Suspension release since 2007; the eccentric synthpop/chamber/electronica-ish label had seemed more suspended than active lately. AS, based in Paris like most of its roster, put out some of my favourite records in the mid-decade period, including Domotic's Ask For Tiger, O.Lamm's Monolith and The Konki Duet's Il Fait Tout Gris. It so happens that both Domotic and O.Lamm appear as guests on several tracks of the Kumisolo album, so it's kind of like the entire era is reuniting on one tidy record. With the whole of The Konki Duet self-releasing an online-only EP earlier this year, things seem to be picking up again in Paris. Good stuff.

Koi no dorei

No. 6 from the series 'Moge mijn dood zo zuiver zijn als het breken van kristal' (May my death be as pure as the breaking of crystal) by Dutch artist Liselotte de Groot (2007)

Chiyo Okumura - Koi No Dorei

Lasers in the jungle

Lightning Bugs
by Barry Underwood, from his show Earth Engines at Johansson Projects gallery in Oakland, California. (Hat tip: BLDGBLOG)

The Konki Duet - Slow Sex

15 November 2009

Darren Hayman attacked in Nottingham (updated)

Darren Hayman was attacked Friday in Nottingham, according to his friend and sometime bandmate Jack Hayter. Hayman was mugged after his performance at The Bodega and "hospitalised as a result of being kicked rather heavily about the head," Hayter tweeted last night.

According to more tweets Hayman is recovering and doing well in hospital, although the remaining dates of this weekend's mini-tour are obviously canceled.

An awful irony is that before the show Hayman himself had tweeted, "I'm in nottingham. Most violent city in uk im told." It seems someone was of a mind to prove it.

Hayman, based in London, was on the road promoting his excellent album with the Secondary Modern, Pram Town. Our best goes out to Darren for a speedy recovery.

UPDATE: Darren's wife Helen explains what happened and thanks everyone for their concern here.

14 November 2009

Pop Molecule, hot as the Sahara Desert!

I thought the title for this blog was pretty cool when Madmadcat suggested it. But now, whenever I think of Pop Molecule, I think of this Shonen Knife song (and I have NO idea how it got into my brain)...even though Pop Molecule is the title of a Stereolab song. Listen to it, whenever Naoko sings the words "Hot Chocolate", just substitute "Pop Molecule" instead, and it fits perfectly. Check it out. Mel-mel-mel-mel-mel-mel-mel-mel-melting!

Shonen Knife > Hot Chocolate

13 November 2009

Books by their covers

Go over to A Journey Round My Skull and scroll through the eye-popping gallery of vintage Slovak and Czech book covers; if you have another ten minutes, sit down with Momus here while he talks you through a slideshow of his favourite Japanese book jackets. One is reminded as ever of how graphic design can affect everyday life, and, in the case of literature, be the beginning of an intellectual seduction.

12 November 2009

Decadeology: Listening too long to one song!

I shamelessly stole this idea from Madcat Joe. On my own blog, I've been doing this series of posts where I've been writing about my favorite songs of the decade. So I'm gonna cross post a bit, I've done it once already, hope it's not too lame.

I really like all of the New Pornographers' output, you really cannot go wrong if you were to choose only one of their albums to spin. That being said, I think Twin Cinema is a really, really great power pop album. For me, Sing Me Spanish Techno is the focal point of that album. It's an incredibly catchy, driving pop song with great singalong-ability. If you have heard the song, then chances are you know what I'm talking about (and possibly agree with me). If you haven't heard it, I honestly think you're missing out and you can give it a chance here.

The New Pornographers > Sing Me Spanish Techno

11 November 2009

Psst... It's not what you think

In September, 2008 artist Thom Ross recreated a 1902 photograph of Buffalo Bill Codyand his "Wild Weest Show", his traveling troupe of Native Americans, in front of the Cliff House at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. I was lucky enough to drive by there that day. I'm embarrassed (but not afraid) to admit that my first thought was "oooh poneys!" and second thought was "I freakin' love Indians" before realizing that these were neither and that I'd stumbled upon an art installation of hand-painted standees.

Vintage travel posters

See more over at Grain Edit.


As much as I'd like to start my 2009 mix all over with all Spanish music (thanks to this) I've got to move on with life, so here goes. Download the MMIX Tape here, and while it's coming down the pipe (at 132 MB it may take a short while) grab a cup of tea. A self-dissociating imaginary interview and tracklist after the jump:

10 November 2009

Robot Hero's Fave Gigs of 2009

I think I've consciously been trying to dial back on the number of gigs I've been attending. Money has been a little tight, and I've already seen a lot of the bands that I'd like to see live. In the past, I've made lists with at least 10-12 shows (just favorites) I attended over the course of the year. I even remember one list that named close to 20 favorites. This year has been slower for me, which is okay I guess. Save some money and eardrums. So this year, I'm gonna roll with a top 3. See? I told you I haven't been to many this year. So here goes...

3. Like most indie kids, I love the Pixies and Doolittle is probably my favorite album of theirs, depending on which day you ask me. Apparently, many people in the bay area love the Pixies as well, as they played three sold-out shows at the Fox Theater. Not only did they play Doolittle in its entirety, but they played a handful of b-sides from that era, including my faves Manta Ray
and Into The White. It was really, really great (despite being surrounded by hipster douchebags and chatty scenesters).



2. Madcat Joe tipped me to Fever Ray about a year ago, I think he played If I Had A Heart for me the night before we were gonna leave for Mexico. I loved it right off the bat, it was creepy and ominous. I had sorta figured that, like The Knife, there wouldn't be much chance to see a Fever Ray gig. So it was pretty much a no-brainer when some limited tour dates were announced, including a San Francisco stop. The venue wasn't exactly my favorite, but there's not much room to be choosy in this case.

Naturally, I thought the performance was excellent, or else I wouldn't be writing about it right here. There was a collection of old lamps that would flicker to the beat of the music. The performers were backlit most of the time, which lent to the spooky atmosphere which also consisted of dry ice fog and lasers. They played most of the album and they also included a cover of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' Stranger Than Kindness. Completely mesmerising.


1. Bat For Lashes gets the barest of nods over Fever Ray just because of the venue. The Great American Music Hall is far, far superior to the Regency Ballroom. The band was tight, the sound was great and Natasha Khan has a fantastic voice (not to mention she is gorgeous). They absolutely KILLED Pearl's Dream, which is my favorite song on Two Suns. I dunno, everything about this show was just perfect to me.



Invitame a bailar

Big, big thanks to Alfie on the Anorak forum and Caravana Pop for compiling Don't Stop Spanish Pop, an ace mix of jangly goodness en español you can download here. It will make you dance in the kitchen and help you brush up on a language you probably should be speaking more of. Muchas gracias, Alfie!

Tracklist after the jump:

Reckless and beautiful

I recently stumbled across the work of illustrator Mimi Leung, a 2007 graduate of the Royal College of Art in London. The picture above is called Parachute. According to her bio, "She currently lives in a small village at the foot of a big mountain in the countryside of Hong Kong, spending her time painting and looking for fun things to brighten up her day. She enjoys clashing colours and tries to use them recklessly in her work." Sounds like a woman after our own heart.

View her portfolio here and here; she blogs here.

09 November 2009

The golden age

A new decade is soon upon us, and while some people (um, like us) are busy looking back, putting together mixes of their favorite music from the past ten years, Momus is naturally already looking ahead. Go and read his notes on 2010-2019 right now, and you will understand why we'll soon begin to eat more mushrooms, learn to make more things with wood, and finally stop wearing jeans. Furthermore:
Your body will thank you for using a bicycle every day during the new decade. Using bicycles will become a condition of using computers successfully too: the correspondence between them will become clearer over time.
I can only hope he's being literal here, and the widespread adoption of pedal-powered laptops becomes reality. Finally:
You have been underestimating the colour yellow.
Indeed we have. I can't wait for yellow--gossamer, silky, pale, enlightened, friendly yellow--to be the new silvery blue-black, which for some reason has been the only legal color in Hollywood since about 2001. The monochrome black thing is never a sign of cultural health--it wasn't for the puritans and it sure isn't now. (I'm looking at you, Tim Burton. The director of Pee-wee's Big Adventure knows better.)

So in the spirit of yellow, and of bicycles, and of a friendlier decade ahead, let's have a look at this picture:

This is from Ryan McGinley's 2007 series I Know Where The Summer Goes. I hope this type of photography will be an influence on the values of the next decade. McGinley's is an aesthetic of adventure, playfulness, and vitality, with nary a scowling angel-of-death supermodel to be seen. (Warning: As there are lots of nude people in this summery series, that link I just gave you isn't very safe for work. Sorry if you've already been fired.)

That is all for now. You have 53 days left to wear your jeans, so put them on, go outside, and slide around in the mud. Have fun.

08 November 2009

Sambassadeur release new single

I know it's shocking, but a fantastic Swedish band on the Labrador label has just come out with yet another very fine indie pop single. Whatever is in the drinking water in Gothenburg, download the new Sambassadeur tune 'Days' courtesy of my new friend Rich Thane at The Line of Best Fit. Album forthcoming in January.

Glimpses of a pop star from the future

Last night the incredible Oorutaichi turned Hall Two at Kings Place into a discotheque from 2973. Phasing effects between his continuum and ours made for difficult photography, but I did my best.

06 November 2009

Top five album covers of 2009 (Madmadcat edition)

5. Burning Hearts, Aboa Sleeping

4. Obi Best, Capades

3. Camera Obscura, My Maudlin Career

2. OOIOO, Armonico Hewa

1. Delorean, Ayrton Senna

Each of these, by the way, happens to be represented on my best-of-2009 mix CD, which is pretty much done. I'm going to let it sit for the weekend though, as there's no rush and such things should marinate for awhile.

ADDENDUM: Delorean put a different cover, below, on the Spanish edition of Ayrton Senna, which also suits very much. I like these guys; with their civilised pop sheen they remind me a bit of Saint Etienne (who also do good album covers). As they are from Barcelona I'm hoping it's not a stretch to imagine them playing Primavera next year.


As part of an ongoing effort to stay sharp while underemployed, I've started writing a little for British webzine The Line of Best Fit, a good place to check into regularly if you keep track of music of the indie/underground/whatever persuasion. The place is run by nice chaps and if you haven't already you should put the site in your bookmarks. My first installment is a review of postrock trio Radian's fairly twisted new album Chimeric. Enjoy.

04 November 2009

Missed Connections

I ran into this blog, Missed Connections, the other day. This woman draws illustrations to match "missed connections" postings in the New York area. Very cool. She's selling her prints, too.

We Shared A Bear Suit

Saturday, October 17, 2009
- m4w
We shared a bear suit at an apartment party on Saturday night.
I asked for your number and you gave it to me, but somehow I don't have an area code written down. I had a great time talking with you, and I don't trust Chance enough to wait until I see you in the elevators...

03 November 2009