Archive: July 2006

Gay Pride Month supplement

I had such ambitions for June. I was going to write a bunch of reviews for Gay Pride Month, and I was going to make a big deal about it. But then I got distracted first by Eponymous 4, then by a visit to the emergency room which revealed stones in my gallbladder.

(That’s the other reason my updates for July have been scarce — I’ve been recovering from surgery for the past few weeks.)

I did manage to write about Dylan Rice, Sacha Sacket, Ex-Boyfriends, Antony and the Johnsons and Morrissey, who won’t even confirm what kind of sex he has (but he’s gay enough.)

This round-up features other artists, mostly culled from music coverage in the Advocate and Out magazines, of whom I was going to write.

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To Do as Infinity and beyond

One of the reasons I haven’t been posting much is because I’ve been working on my bedroom studio project, Eponymous 4. I like to think everything I listen to — from Duran Duran to Number Girl — influences what I do with Eponymous 4, but if I had to make a direct parallel between it and other bands, I’d have to namedrop Tears for Fears and Do As Infinity.

Rolling Stone once described Tears for Fears as the missing link between the Cure and Sade, which would be something of an apt description for Do As Infinity. The duo could rock out, but not at the expense of a chart-friendly pop hook.

Do As Infinity disbanded in 2005, and it’s members have gone on to separate projects, round up here for your convenience.

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Utada Hikaru: Ultra Blue

From a creative perspective, Utada Hikaru hasn’t produced a steady, consistent output. And that’s not a bad thing.

Utada released her debut album First Love at the age of 17, and from the start, she was described as "mature". She established a high mark that even she has had trouble surpassing.

Her second album Distance threw in some clever experiments while not alienating her fan base, all the while hinting at some hidden depths.

Utada’s third album, Deep River, was rushed to keep the momentum of career afloat, while her English-language debut, Exodus, boxed her into an incongruous, American sound, absolutely at odds with her writing.

Without the missteps of those last two albums, her fourth Japanese-language album, Ultra Blue, wouldn’t be the definitive creative statement it is. Seven years into an incredibly successful and lucrative career, Utada Hikaru has recorded the album she always had in her.

Ultra Blue is the sound of Utada coming of age, and it’s her strongest work so far.

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Cocco: Zansaian

There’s no need for me to write this review because Keikaku said everything I want to say about Zansaian. That’s what I get for snoozing on the job — I get scooped.

If you don’t want to click on the link, here’s an excerpt which sums up the album nicely:

Cocco’s purportedly tumultuous psyche may have brought her career to a halt, but it was clearly fertile material for her to draw upon. Without it, the ensuing placidity has ushered in an album of blandness.

That’s better than what I would have said. I still, however, would like to posit about the psyche of Cocco.

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A round-up of albums I won’t review

I have a Winamp playlist of albums to consider for review, and it contains 42 hours of music.

I keep forgetting I’m only considering them for review — I don’t actually have to write about them. But there comes a point when you’ve listened to something enough times to develop an opinion about it. They’re not thorough listens, but they leave enough of an impression.

So how about a challenge? Post opinions about albums for which I don’t wish to write reviews? It’s the anti-review review. If that makes any sense.

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Hajime Chitose: Hanadairo

Let’s take care of the bottom line, first — Hanadairo is a welcome return from Hajime Chitose, and it’s an album just as good as the first two she released at the turn of the decade.

That said, the creative contribution of Ueda Gen is sorely missed (at least by me.)

Ueda was the main songwriting contributor on Hainumikaze and Nomad Soul. He crafted that other-worldly mix of traditional music and pop that suited Hajime’s singular voice, mixing in dub and other musical styles while doing so.

As a result, Hajime set herself further apart from pop stars chirping over a techno beat. The music was appealing and just this side of bizarre.

On Hanadairo, Ueda contributes only three songs. The rest of the album is handled by an army of other writers, and the resulting album leans more to a mainstream pop sound.

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Hatakeyama Miyuki: Reflection

It takes a long time for the charms of Hatakeyama Miyuki’s third studio album of original music, Reflection, to reveal themselves.

A very, very long time.

In other words, this album is pretty boring.

Hatakeyama has a beautiful croon. When she sings really strong material, it’s some of the most moving performances ever recorded. When the material isn’t up to par, her voice is the only reason to keep listening.

The pre-release single, "Ai ni Melody", hinted Hatakeyama was paired with some promisingly strong material. Reflection, unfortunately, reveals all that strong material was squandered on the single.

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