Archive: February 2006

Sigur Rós, Bass Concert Hall, Feb. 26, 2006, Austin, TX

Never close your eyes while listening to Sigur Rós.

Even at intense volume, the music of Sigur Rós can lull a person into an R.E.M. state.

Unfortunately, I had to close my eyes many times during the band’s performance at Bass Concert Hall on Feb. 26. The lighting engineer thought it was a good idea to shine bright intense lights into the audience for long periods of time.

An occassion flash to the audience is all right, but blinding them so they can’t even see the concert is a terrible choice.

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Tokyo Jihen: Otona (Adult)

It was a bold move for Shiina Ringo to form a band after a successful solo career. The standard operating procedure is to leave a band to go solo.

But there was a sense Shiina wasn’t totally ready for the leap to team player.

Tokyo Jihen’s debut album, Kyooiku, featured some dazzling performances, but it seemed the songs Shiina wrote for the album weren’t the right ones for this set of players.

Kyooiku might have sounded great with Gyakutai Glycogen (her touring band from 2000) or Hatsuiku Status (a one-off club band featuring members of Number Girl and DMBQ). But not with Tokyo Jihen.

With the ensemble’s second album, Shiina seems more comfortable as a member of a group, and Otona shows it.

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ZAZEN BOYS: ZAZEN BOYS III

I love Mukai Shuutoku for who he is. He is not, however, John Zorn.

ZAZEN BOYS’ third eponymous album brings the band back to the inscrutible improvisation that made its first album a chore. In fact, ZAZEN BOYS III goes further.

Mukai has pretty much abandoned any minimum requirement of songcraft. Opening track "Sugar Man" sets the tone — it starts with a menancing riff but quickly dissolves into a mess of spoken word, scratchy guitars and disjointed rhythms.

It’s a racket in the worst sense of the word.

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My name is ACO, and I will be your Waitress tonight

When the Sony Music web site listed "I Know What Boys Like" as a track on ACO’s now-released mask EP, I was in denial that it was a cover of the venerable hit by the Waitresses.

Well, it is a cover of the Waitresses. A very glitchy cover.

The Waitresses fan in me ought to be mortally offended someone would dare cover this song, but I got a kick out of the snippet I heard of ACO’s version. She’s got the deadpan down, and the glitchy reworking pays homage to the irreverant nature of the song.

Listening to the rest of the clips, it sounds like ACO is back to writing melodies, but she hasn’t totally abandoned the Sigur Rós ambitions of irony. I can’t wait for my YesAsia order to arrive!

The Smiths: The Queen Is Dead

A friend of mine had a joke about the Cure — he called them “the Cure for Happiness”.

We lumped the Smiths in with that joke because back then fans of both bands came off as morose.

Morrissey’s moribund disposition preceded him — you didn’t need to hear him sing about how miserable he was. That was just a given.

So for years, I wrote him off, despite the fact I … actually found him kind of hot. (That immortal shot of him shirtless with his hand behind his head never fails to grab my attention.)

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U2: October

I think I like this album because it’s the underdog.

October barely made it onto U2’s early career retrospective, The Best of U2: 1980-1990, and it didn’t even get a listed track!

The most casual U2 fan could probably rattle off song titles from The Unforgettable Fire, War and maybe even Boy. But nobody seems to talk about October, and the band itself doesn’t seem to acknowledge the album’s existence.

And that’s odd because October isn’t anywhere near a sophomore slump.

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SXSW 2006: Chart your schedule

The bane of SXSW is conflicting schedules. It’s great that Klezmatics, eX-Girl and a bevy of traditional Japanese shamisen players are headed for the festival. It sucks they’re all scheduled on the same night.

If you’re heading to Austin to check out bands from Japan, it might help to check out the following table — I can tell you now, you’re going to have to prioritize on Friday and Saturday.

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XTC: Skylarking

I was introduced to XTC’s Skylarking through a rather unlikely source — the Hawaiʻi Public Library.

A branch of the library located by my high school had a cassette of Skylarking in its collection. I had just read a cover story about XTC in a music magazine, and I borrowed it.

I was blown away.

It became one of my favorite albums — not life-changing on the level of Kronos Quartet’s Black Angels but certainly comfort listening on the level of the Sugarcubes’ Life’s Too Good.

Funny thing is, I never owned a copy of the album until recently.

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Four out change

Supercar split up in early 2005, and a year later, each member is off doing his or her own thing.

Singer/guitarist Nakamura Koji started up a new project, Ill, says Bounce.com. No details are available about this new project, but last year, Nakamura’s other post-Supercar project, Nyantora, released a third album, Yoru wo Wasurenai/97-03.

A few days ago, bassist Furukawa Miki launched her own official site. Nothing on there yet about any new projects, but both Furukawa’s and Nakamura’s sites are hosted by Yamaha Corporation — presumably their new label.

Ishitari Junji and Tazawa Kodai each have weblogs now. Kodai released a second album with aM back in Oct. 2005.

It’s somewhat interesting to see the post-group dynamics at play — Nakamura links to Furukawa’s site, and Ishitari and Tazawa both use the same blogging site. Of course, eplus.co.jp may be some sort of MySpace-style blog farm, so I’m probably reading way more into it.

Do you like to FEED?

That was the tagline for the now-defunct Japanese rock band FEED. But I would like to mention the Musicwhore.org RSS feed (http://www.musicwhore.org/index.rdf).

I know I haven’t really been posting much here, and that thing called "real life" is pretty much the culprit for my negligence. So rather than taking time out of your surfing — which is wasted when you visit here and there’s nothing to see — let a service such as Bloglines take care of it for you.

Sign up for an account, then subscribe to the Musicwhore.org RSS feed. When I post an update, Bloglines will grab the content from my feed and inform you of an update.

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