30 November 2010

Computer Games

Hanging out with cousin tonight. Hadn't seen her in a while, so we were catching up on our latest obsessions. Roundabout conversation led to a discussion of David Bowie, Ryuichi Sakamoto (she had just purchased a movie called Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence) and Yellow Magic Orchestra. I remember the first time I had heard Computer Games, I was in junior high school at the time. Back then, this is what the future sounded like.

Yellow Magic Orchestra > Computer Games

Red, Green, White, Green, Red, Red, White

Today, I discovered that a new Puffy single, R.G.W., is out, and it's an Xmas song, to boot. I'm liking this much more than some of the recent stuff they've done with Butch Walker. From what I've read, they worked with Tamio Okuda on this, which is a nice change. I really love the Beatles moment when they sing "Love, love, love." The video is kinda cute, too.

28 November 2010

Twenty oh ten

Though we haven't even finished with November yet, a certain online magazine has asked me for a ballot of my favourite records of 2010 by today. They won't publish the results of their writer poll for a couple weeks, but I thought I'd share my list right now. Here's what I've dug so far this year the most.

1. Kemialliset Ystävät - Ullakkopalo
2. The Chap - Well Done Europe
3. Islaja - Keraaminen Pää
4. Shugo Tokumaru - Port Entropy
5. Sambassadeur - European
6. Minamo & Lawrence English - A Path Less Travelled
7. Hauschka - Foreign Landscapes
8. Yona - Pilvet Liikkuu, Minä En
9. Owen Pallett - Heartland
10. Northern Portrait - Criminal Art Lovers

Something from each of these will be on the forthcoming 2010 mixtape. Meanwhile, all the caveats about the utter subjectivity of these sorts of lists apply. Undoubtedly, there were at least a few really amazing records this year that I won't discover until next week, or 2011, or 2012, or never. That's life.

That said, that album by Kemialliset Ystävät (or "Chemical Friends") is a playful but meditative joy from start to finish. Follow that link, listen to the samples, order the CD, be happy.

26 November 2010

Christmas Wish

Usually when I listen to something by Takako Minekawa, I expect something quirky, fun and perhaps even a bit bizarre. Christmas Wish plays it straight and is pretty much a winner in my book. It's from her difficult-to-find Baroque In The Winter EP. I think I paid around $30 for those four tracks, and it was worth it.

Takako Minekawa > Christmas Wish

14 November 2010

R2, we love you

Alright, peeps, you may say it's too early or whatever, but I've got my Christmas lights going because I felt like it. And with that, the Christmas music begins. I give you, R2-D2 We Wish You A Merry Christmas, from Christmas In The Stars: The Star Wars Christmas Album. What's amusing about this track is that it features a then-unknown 17 year old Jon Bon Jovi (listed as Jon Bongiovi). According to Wikipedia, Jon's cousin, Tony Bongiovi, "co-produced the album and ran the recording studio at which it was recorded, where Jon was working sweeping floors at the time." And the rest is history.

Star Wars Singers > R2-D2 We Wish You A Merry Christmas

I don't wanna be stuck on the bottom shelf

I always feel weird when I say I like some band or song that I heard for the first time on, say, Pitchfork or whatever. If you know me at all, you know I'm pretty far from hipster-indie-snob. But, if you're looking for new music, you have to hear it first somewhere. Sometimes it's your friends who point you in the right direction, sometimes it's a snooty music site (like this one!). And while I'm on this subject; yeah, it's easy to dislike Pitchfork and call them pretentious or snooty, but the fact is they cover a lot of the music I enjoy and that's why I continue to read them and other music sites. I don't have to agree with their opinions, I just want information, to know what's going on and what's coming out.

So, with my dull dialog out of the way; I really like this song, Dreaming, by Seapony, whom I've never ever heard of before catching a blurb about them on Pitchfork. It's hazy and dreamy, complete with fetching 60s girl-pop vocals. Easily worth the 2+mb of space on your hard drive. If you like this, they also have a free 3-track EP if you click here.

Seapony > Dreaming

11 November 2010

How come you treat me like a worn out shoe?

Another late year discovery for me is The Secret Sisters' self titled debut album. I don't really know a lot about country music, but these girls seem old school, to me. It sounds genuine, earnest and timeless. Short and sweet, the album clocks in at just under half an hour. And while the album may have been recorded in the past year or two, it's heart seems to be at least four or five decades old.

A lot of these songs are covers, from what I've read, and you can hear the love and respect for the material. They don't try to outdo anyone with overwrought histrionics, the not-so-secret Rogers sisters (Laura and Lydia) inhabit the songs and create their own space within them. I love their voices and harmonies, they totally transport me to somewhere else. I'm looking forward to hearing more from these lovely ladies.

The Secret Sisters > Why Don't You Love Me?

The way you shine so bright

I just stumbled onto Sweden's Sad Day For Puppets last week, and I'm completely hooked. Kinda jangly dreampop, ethereal female vocals, an endless supply of hooks and maybe even a little shoegaze thrown in. Reminiscent of Lush, in a way. Little Light is from their 2008 album, Unknown Colours. They also have a new album, Pale Silver and Shiny Gold that just hit about a month or so ago.

Sad Day For Puppets > Little Light