Monthly Archives: April 2008

How distracting

I’ll be traveling to Honolulu from May 7-13, so entries here will be scarce in the next few weeks.

The playlist itself is a bit slim, and I’m slowly getting familiar with the 20 hours of stuff on there now. I probably won’t have anything about which to write till later in the month.

With allergy season easing up here in Austin, I might be drawn back into the studio to hash out more stuff with Eponymous 4. Oh, and there’s that matter of releasing an EP (essentially an over-glorified short run of 100 copies, but hey, I filed papers with the county clerk’s office for a DBA.)

So yes, I’ve got a lot of distractions to keep me busy. I’ll pop in as usual if something catches my eye or ear. And with any luck, I’ll come home from Hawaiʻi with all new music bounty.

Looking ahead: May 2008-July 2008

I’ve scoured a number of new release sites, and I can’t really find anything coming up in the next few months that interest me. Oh, there’s lots of music coming out in the next few months — even I’m releasing an EP this summer — but very few things that would get me to the record store.

So instead, here’s a quick round-up of items about which I’ve already posted.

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Favorite edition 2002

After working in the Internet industry for five years, I joked that if I ever got laid off, I would go to work at Waterloo Records, but even as I said it, it felt more like a prediction than a joke.

Well, guess what?

Waterloo Records, believe it or not, was the first retail job I ever had. In college, I did mostly office work, with a stint of library circulation for about a year. I’m not a "people person", but when it came to guiding customers to the music they didn’t know they wanted, I was in my element.

The employee discount also guaranteed a steady musical fix, although my dependence on file sharing would actually increase at this time. My minimum wage salary still went mostly to bills.

Waterloo also honed my tastes a lot more. I became much more dismissive, and I lost patience with anything that required too much work on my part. As much of a music lover I am, I don’t have to love everything.

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On the playlist, or many albums, few artists

After a marathon of writing earlier in the month, I managed to get my audition playlist down to about 14 hours. It usually averages around the high 20s or low 30s, but it can peak into the 40s. (That sounds like a weather report.)

It feels kind of weird not spreading my listening time over many days’ worth of material, but I’m taking care of that right quick.

This time around, I’m listening to multiple releases by a number of artists. It wasn’t planned.

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Hajime Chitose contributes new song to film

I wonder if Hajime Chitose needs to get out of Onitsuka Chihiro’s head. Because like Onitsuka, Hajime is also contributing a song to a film, and it’s also titled "Hotaru", says

The new Hajime song serves as a theme for the film Climber’s High, based on a book by Yokoyama Hideo. Yokoyama is a fan of Hajime and wanted her sing the film adaptation’s title song. Sukima Switch’s Tokita Shintarou writes and produces. Climber’s High opens July 5.

The article doesn’t mention whether the song will be released as a single.

Leo Imai: FIX NEON

There are two things you can count on with Leo Imai’s debut album, FIX NEON:

  1. The prodigious use of the syllable "Oh!"
  2. The recycling of melodic material for his choruses

You needn’t look further than two consecutive tracks toward the middle of the album, "Metro" and "Karaoke". The choruses are practically identical. As for the "Oh!", they appear most frequently between the end of a chorus and the start of a verse, but you can pretty much put them anywhere.

This … economy of musical ideas can get alternately tiring and endearing. It would be nice if he didn’t sing "Oh!" so much, but at the same time, the songs would be so empty without them.

Those are pretty much the only significant issues holding FIX NEON back from greatness. Set them aside, and the album is perhaps one of the most confoundingly appealing releases this year.

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Favorite edition 2001

The first three-quarters of 2001 would be the most prosperous I would experience. The last quarter of 2001 was the polar opposite.

Most folks would set the turning point at 9/11. Mine was 8/31, the day I lost my job. Till then, I was burning my cash on Japanese CDs with a sense the other shoe was about ready to drop at any time.

File sharing was starting to put a chink in the irrationally exuberant sales of recordings, and my own exploration of Japanese music would signify a larger change in music consumption on the whole. Listeners sought what they wanted to hear, whether it be Japanese pop, Italian film soundtracks, indie rock from the UK or old Roberta Flack hits. Strong-arming a song onto a radio playlist was no guarantee for success.

The Internet allowed me to ignore the domestic market that year. That wasn’t possible before.

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If her album releases are any indication, Utada Hikaru would make a lousy poker player. Between double-A sides and coupling tracks that turn into album tracks, she has a habit of revealing her hand before it’s ever shown.

Seven of the 13 tracks on HEART STATION were released as singles, and after the release of "Prisoner of Love" in May, she will have made 60 percent of the album available.

The Japanese music industry still adheres to a model to which the US industry is heading back — driven by singles with albums treated as after-thoughts.

This tactic is good for building hype where it’s warranted. It certainly worked (on me) for Utada’s previous album ULTRA BLUE.

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GENERAL HEAD MOUNTAIN releases first album with Shiina Ringo cover

A new three-piece band named GENERAL HEAD MOUNTAIN has recorded a cover of Shiina Ringo’s "Tsumi to Batsu" for its first full album, reports Titled Tsuki Kanashi Blue, the 13-track album has a June 4 release date. Comic book illustrator Nananan Kiriko provides the cover art.

I’m not sure how that cover would sound, judging by the one 30-second sample posted on the band’s Myspace page. GENERAL HEAD MOUNTAIN sound a bit mainstream, although singer Matsuo Akihiko (I’m guessing the Romanization here) has the kind of raspy voice that might make it work.

Honestly, I’m not sure who really could cover Shiina Ringo songs. Can you picture Hatakeyama Miyuki singing "Odaiji ni" or Tokyo Jihen’s "Keshounaoshi"? How about Cocco covering "Koufukuron" or "Gips"? I bet Chara could do something with "Superstar".

I would still love to hear Shiina herself cover some NUMBER GIRL and not just 10 seconds of "Frustration in my blood". She could probably do an awesome rendition of "TRAMPOLINE GIRL" from SAPPUKEI.

PE’Z + singer suzumoku = pe’zmoku reports "samurai jazz" group PE’Z has teamed up with alt-folk singer suzumoku to form a special band, pe’zmoku. The band releases its first mini album, Gallop, on July 9 through DefStar, which signed PE’Z to a new contract. suzumoku himself releases a new album, Propeller, on May 14. It’s not the first time PE’Z has released a collaboration. In 2006, the quintet released an EP, Live for the Groove, with Nate James.

I’ve always liked PE’Z’s performances, even if they’re music can get rather homogenic. suzumoku, on the other hand, couldn’t come from a more distant aesthetic, as evidenced by this video clip. It’ll be interesting to see how the two meld.