Archive: March 2006

Vola & the Oriental Machine: Waiting for My Food

OK. This is what Franz Ferdinand should sound like.

Vola & the Oriental Machine have succeeded where countless ’80s revivalists and the Back Horn (Ikiru Sainou?) have failed. They’ve taken the dance rhythms of New Wave but maintained the urgency of punk.

It’s a conundrum — do you dance or do you mosh? Fucking hell, do both.

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SLOTH LOVE CHUNKS: Shikakui Vision

I’ll admit — I blame Nakao Kentaro for busting up Number Girl.

He was the guy who wanted to leave, and recognizing a spell would be broken if any one member of Number Girl were to depart, the band called it quits.

I miss Number Girl on the days when Mukai Shuutoku thinks he’s something he’s not. (Avant-garde improviser? Um. No.) I miss Number Girl on the days when Tabuchi Hisako gets lost in the bloodthirsty butchers mix. (Helloooo, birdy!)

So of all the members who have the most to prove, I was expecting Nakao to knock my fucking socks off. And secretly, I was hoping he would.

He has.

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ACO: mask

With her previous album, irony, ACO had gone so far beyond the electronica-pop of Material and absolute ego, she would have fallen off a cliff if she went further.

So on the mini-album mask — 2 1/2 years to record six songs? — she pulls herself back into the world of beats and melodies.

Call it a creative adjustment, kind of like the market corrections on Wall Street.

And personally, I’m glad she’s brought herself down to earth.

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Sasagawa Miwa: Yoake

It didn’t seem possible that Sasagawa Miwa could get any more introspective, but she does.

Yoake, her third studio album, starts off softly and never really rises to a boisterous level. At least, not in the same manner as some of her more extroverted moments on previous albums.

It’s that steady mood that gives the album a more coherent feel, even when some dead spots threaten to derail its pace.

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Cocteau Twins: Treasure

I had a very brief encounter with Cocteau Twins back in high school.

My friends and I were exploring all kinds of music back then — just something to serve as antidote to Milli Vanili and MC Hammer dug by all the fashionable kids at the time.

For me, that meant Kronos Quartet, Stephen Sondheim, Philip Glass and John Zorn. For my friends, that meant Erasure, the Smiths, the Dead Milkmen and Cocteau Twins.

Cocteau Twins came as a recommendation to one of my friends from his cousin in college. I was in his car when he put on the cassette tape (remember those?).

I may have heard only one or two tracks in that ride, but it certainly left an indelible impression.

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Release news: Hajime Chitose album in May

It’s been 2 1/2 years since Hajime Chitose released an album, and on May 10, the wait ends.

Hajime releases her third album, Hanadairo, on that date, according to the singer’s official web site. Guest appearances include Tokita Shintarou of Sukima Switch, Matsutoya Yumi, Matsutoya Masataka and Suga Shiako. Producers include Ueda Gen, Mamiya-e and COIL. Essentially, most of the Office Augusta roster.

(They couldn’t throw in Dr.StrangeLove while they were at it?)

"Hanadairo" is the Japanese term for "sapphire blue", a color symbolic to Hajime of peace and harmony. The album will be preceded by a single on May 3 including songs used in the films Hatsukoi and Ao no Requiem.

I can’t say the recent singles have thrilled me, but Hajime Chitose is one of those phone book singers — it doesn’t matter what she sings, just so long as she’s singing.

So long the boys make the noise

Roger Taylor wrote a postcard to Duran Duran’s official site with a progress report on the band’s new album.

Taylor said they’re working with producer Michael Patterson on 15 songs, which will be whittled down to 12 for the album. Mixing could start as early as April, with a first single heading to radio during the summer. It’s not too far-fetched to see the album this fall or next spring.

Whenever Duran Duran is about to release a new album, fans always make book on how far back the release date will be pushed. When I hear news about a new album coming out on a particular month, I always ask whether it means this year, next year or the year after that.

Taylor also mentions the album is a homage to the band’s roots, "a return to our dance and ‘new wave’ origins". I’m cynical enough to read between the lines — "our old sound is fashionable again, and if we sound like we did, we can score lots of money!"

Huh. Haven’t heard that in a while …

I may be stealing my own thunder by posting this entry, but in an effort to put some really whacked out stuff on my Last.fm profile, I’ve undertaken the arduous task of ripping my music library, which consists of some 800+ titles.

Probably small beans next to some hardcore music fans out there, but it’s gotten me digging up stuff I haven’t heard in years. And I inevitably find myself thinking, "Wow. I gotta write about that!"

And perhaps I will.

Until then, I’ll just list some of them here …

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Any contribution by the Flash Girls?

Dancing Ferret Records is set to release a tribute album to comic book author Neil Gaiman, so reports Billboard.com. The album features contributions by Tori Amos, Cruxshadows, Tapping the Vein and Schandmaul. Gaiman himself will contribute to the liner notes, while Dave McKean provides the cover art. The album hits stores on July 18.

Being the Sandman fanatic, I’m most likely going to get this album, even if it turns out to be a disaster. One of these days, I’ll have to rent Mirrormask, the movie Gaiman and McKean made together.

Looking ahead: April 2006-May 2006

It seemed to have taken a while for announcements about upcoming albums to pop up. Perhaps that’s indicative of a slow build-up to the summer touring season. Maybe it’ll get better the closer we get to June.

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