January 31, 2006

LNYE, Pt. 2: Purple Rain... Forest

A Side / Jaurim
Vlad / Jaurim
Ha Ha Ha Song / Jaurim
17171771 / Jaurim

Jaurim is the foremost deity of Korean indie pop. The four carefree bicyclers pictured above emerged in 1997 as Ugly Duckling, quickly changed their name to Jaurim (which means "Purple Rain Forest" in Korean), and awoke to fame after recording the soundtrack for a popular Korean television drama (The Man with a Flower). Over the following 9 years, they released approximately 10 albums—it's hard to keep track because lead singer Kim Yoon-ah kinda-sorta left the band in 2002. Since then, she's released a number of solo efforts, the remaining band members recorded an album as the Chococreamrolls, and they've all collaborated for live shows and their most recent LP, All You Need Is Love (2004).

The draw is definitely Yoon-ah; her voice is Jaurim's superpower. On tracks like the brief "A Side" (off of 1999's Bijungkyojakob), a perfect opener or closer for a mixtape, she twees her way lightly through a single minute of la la la's. On "Vlad" (from 2002's Vol. 4) she flexes her muscles a bit more, running alongside crunchy guitars, singing in Korean, and yelling English fragments like, "Time to die" and "You'll be mine." But it's on the recent "reunification" album All You Need Is Love, that Yoon-ah really demonstrates her range. On "Ha Ha Ha Song"—the album's sing-along standout—she moves adroitly back-and-forth between a Latin lounge-singer persona and a punkier guise, oftentimes within the spacing of a single phrase. And on "17171771" (which boasts a melody so familiar the song sounds like a cover), she poses as the delicate type despite knowing full well that she's a great deal more.

January 30, 2006

Squeeze Slowly and See

my foot / the pillows

back seat dog / the pillows

hidden song / the pillows

There's really nothing to say, except that I can't believe I never heard of them until now (in the very likely event that you have, please forgive this post). Anyway, I'm fairly hooked...Jeremy and I couldn't stop listening to them this weekend. Sort of a huggably soft Japanese Pixies.

the pillows' (they’re not into the whole "capitalization" jive) new album came out a couple of weeks ago, and for a band that's going on 17 years together it's surprisingly fresh. You can check them out, in all their button-eyed-dog sword-throwing goodness, here.

The first track is the title track off the new album, my foot. The second is from their 8th album, happy bivouac, and the third is a weird fucking something they did for an anime soundtrack.

January 28, 2006

Lunar New Year Extravaganza, Pt. 1

MP3s Lunar New Year Fun-Pack / Various Artists

FULL ZIP Lunar New Year Fun-Pack / Various Artists

Happy Chinese/Lunar New Year! To celebrate, I will try to make you read more than usual.

Apparently there's a new rule requiring one to apologize prior to making a "Best Of" list. Every 2005 list I've read has begun with some tepid disclaimer about how it would be impossible to capture the magic and beauty of an entire year of music (or film or books or whatever) in a single list. The only problem with these disclaimers is that they are totally and completely false. Every single time I declare, "This is the best (blank) of (blankiness)" I am speaking the gospel. I love proclaiming "bests" and "favorites" because I'm always right. And I love the word "definitely."

Thus, below are my Top 12 Songs of 2005. I've already put all of them on pretty much every mix I've made this past year; I didn't create or discover any of them; and they aren't particularly obscure. I do love them, however. There's one for each animal of the Chinese calendar (plus one), but the animals are out of order because I'm not Chinese and because this is the order in which the songs should be played as a mix.

None of that is very important. What's important is that I would really like you to listen to any of the following songs that you don't already have. Click the "MP3s" link above and download the ones you need; or click the "ZIP" link and download the whole sack. Also, check the doodads at the very bottom for the rest of the New Year's celebration.

1. DOG: Major Label Debut (fast version) / Broken Social Scene
The extra energy on this version is loose like an old certainty, like it comes from a water mill rather than a wall socket.

2. MONKEY: Hey Now Now / The Cloud Room
Carefully designed to make you jump every time. If you don't, there's something wrong with your spinal cord.

3. ROOSTER: We Listen Every Day / The Go! Team
Just maybe: heaven is hot pink and these are the trumpets that sound when the gates swing open.

4. OX: Kick Out the Chairs (WhoMadeWho remix) / LCD Soundsystem | Munk
As long as we can dance up in heaven, who cares if there's a shortage of chairs, muthafucka?

5. PIG: Gone (ft. Cam'ron and Consequence) / Kanye West
Should've been the first single off an otherwise mediocre album. Includes references to Burger King, Taco Bell, KFC, and restaurants that require flair ("Says she wants diamonds, I took her to Ruby Tuesday's").

6. DRAGON: Raising the Sparks / Akron/Family
Next time you're burning effigies in the deserts of Nevada, this foot-stomper best be playing on the iPod.

7. RAT: Las Cruces Jail (single version) / Two Gallants
Within the first second of this song, the vocalist (Adam Stephenson) has already broken a world record: All-Time #1 Rendition of the Word "Well." When he screams, it actually sounds like a jail break.

8. HORSE: History of Lovers / Iron & Wine | Calexico
Best collaboration of 2005. More horns.

9. GOAT: I Have a Tail / Pompey
I first heard this song yesterday, courtesy of Fluxblog. It's play count is already 4,201. And, yes, it does sound like a mutation of Animal Collective. Like a collective of imaginary battery-powered animals. Which is to say, exactly like Caribou's "Yeti," the 13th best song of 2005.

10. RABBIT: Great Day (remix of MF Doom/Madvillain) / Four Tet
A 2005 remix of the best song from the best collaboration of 2004. Unlike the original, this doesn't take place before a party, prefiguring a great day. This takes place on a porch by a stream as a great day is transforming itself into a memory. A memory which you will later relate to your "puh-sychiatrist."

11. TIGER: Two For Joy / Electrelane
Around 4 minutes and 26 seconds, "Don't go near the water" becomes "Let's get in the water." A few seconds later, this song becomes the most ecstatic track off one of the most underrated albums of '05.

12. SNAKE: Surprise, AZ (Richard Buckner cover) / Cynthia G. Mason
In an ordered universe, a collection of covers like the 2005 Believer CD would suck every time. Not here. Devendra Banhart inhabits "Fistful of Love" completely, then outstrips it; and the Constantines precisely savor the early '90s on Elevator to Hell's "Why I Didn't Like August 93." But Cynthia Mason outdoes them both. Her barebones version disposes of the affected vocals, harmonica, and twang of Buckner's original, allowing her voice to seep into the empty spaces these excisions create. For every bit she takes away, the melody becomes that much more devastating.

13. MONSTER: Great Day (instrumental mix) / Four Tet
Bonus track, the instrumental from #10.

NOTE: The temporary/celebratory title graphic is/was courtesy of one Dr. Robert Schmidt.

January 26, 2006

Increase Your Sexual Potency (With Distortion)

MP3 Immortal Seal's Gallbladder / Bulssajo
불멸의 해구신 / 불싸조

MP3 Furious Five / Bulssajo
퓨리어스 파이브 / 불싸조

That's right, the name of the first track off Bulssajo's debut LP Furious Five (2005) translates roughly to "Immortal Seal's Gallbladder." Apparently, in Korean the title is a pun that references a popular television drama; a sea captain who developed some sort of turtle-shaped warships; and the real practice, among Korean men, of eating the gallbladder of seals for increased (i.e. everlasting) sexual stamina. Also known as "staminamina."

Bulssajo itself is a three-piece dream-rock outfit. I saw them play a short set last weekend where they opened with an impressive song of their own and then played a faithful cover of Yo La Tengo's "I Heard You Looking." I figured being as white as Ira Kaplan and knowing it was enough of a reason to talk with the guitarist, Sangchol Han, after the show. He was friendly and explained that Bulssajo is currently in the studio recording their first real album (Furious Five was just a "test recording"). He said he likes YLT but also rattled off People Under the Stairs and Mr. Lif as influences because he spins on the weekends.

The two songs posted above both remind me of Seam, but the guitar work has a harder edge, and the vocals are mixed so far back you can't understand the lyrics no matter what language you speak. As a whole, the album is rough but very consistent.

More Bulssajo here.

MP3 I Heard You Looking / Yo La Tengo

MP3 I Heard You Looking (live 6/20/95) / Yo La Tengo

One of my favorite rock instrumentals of all time. The guitar's droning march becomes more and more weirdly joyful each time it emerges from its own distortion.

January 25, 2006

God Save the Queen

Fuck You, Elton John / Chin Up Chin Up

First it was Bennie and the Jets, and the rhinestone arms race with Liberace. Then the whole "how could I possibly be gay if I'm married to a woman" thing. And then came the Lion King song, single-handedly ruining an otherwise respectable 1994. Now we're supposed to call him Sir, like he rides upon a goddamn steed, redressing grievances throughout christendom or something. Finally, Chin Up Chin Up has said what we were all thinking. Fuck you, Elton John.

Admittedly, the song (from 2005's Chin Up Chin Up) doesn't live up to the title, though it ends on a nice little note of Xiu Xiu-inspired caterwauling.

January 24, 2006

More Flaming Robot Music

M: Hey Jerry?

J: Yes Mike?

M: Do these
yellow lights
make me
look gay?

J: (Pause)

M: Be honest

J: You're not gay?

Full-size Robot Mike. Full-size Robot Jerry.

MP3 You Gotta Hold On (full version) / The Flaming Lips

"Biggest mistake EVER" was my reaction to discovering that "You Gotta Hold On" is not on on the tracklist for the Lips' forthcoming At War with the Mystics LP. Actually I didn't care that much. But it does seem weird that this glitchy robotic new-agery is not slated for release at all even though the video (featuring...you guessed it, robots!!) was made available in November. I guess the feel-goodisms are piled on too heavy for even these softest-hearted of rock stars: "And with a lot of patience/We'll see a lot of changes/And the United Nations/Will see our love is only love//And there's nothing to be afraid of." Whatever, I still prefers this to either of the two Mystics tunes that have been released thus far. Loveisloveisloveislove.

MP3 The W.A.N.D. / The Flaming Lips

Most people probably disagree, so if you don't got it here's the first single.

MP3 Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1 (Japanese vocals version) / The Flaming Lips

This one's to fill the Koreapan quota.

January 23, 2006


Walk On The Moon / Asobi Seksu

Sooner / Asobi Seksu

As I'm sure many of you know, I'm sort of the umbilical-choked, oxygen-deprived, retarded fraternal twin in this musical relationship with Jeremy. That's why I was so excited when, during a recent google search for pornography, music, I found this cool band...Yay me find music good too! I shouted loudly to Jeremy. Oh, them? he scoffed. I've known about them since, like, forever.* And who let you out of the basement, retard?
So, I tried. Anyway. Asobi Seksu. Sort of like My Bloody Valentine fronted by a Japanese girl. Hot.

*Jeremy actually credits Daniel Levin Becker with this one

I Heart The Lord

No Job / I Love JH

Oh My Darling / I Love JH

Word on the street has it that the mysterious letters in the name I Love JH refer to both Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jesus H. Christ. But listening to the first single from ILJH's debut LP (which came out yesterday), one gets the sense that they might as well stand for the singer's middle-school boyfriend and that delicious Josh Hartnett. Whatever you believe, "No Job" is gummy and reasonably representative of Korean indie pop. The lyrics are in English and only occasionally of any interest ("I don't wanna talk about life"), but the hooks are in all the right spots.

Mildly related: According to both Dan Brown and part four of the Bible, Jesus' full middle name is Herbert. But they are wrong. Like Harry Truman, Jesus has a middle initial that refers only to itself.

January 22, 2006

Happy Smile Candy Music!

Dolly / Shonen Knife

I Wanna Eat Choco Bars / Shonen Knife

They wear matching Mondrian-style dresses, sing about cute animals and junk food, and opened for Sonic Youth and Nirvana. The two sisters of Osaka's famed ultra-pop Shonen Knife (translated, "Boy...Knife") have been promoting tooth decay since 1981 and are still going strong. Well, kind of. Their drummer just died in a car crash. And their new album is...OK. Kind of. But hey, Eighty-freakin'-one. Kurt Kobain. Dead drummer. Alright? Girl Power!

The first song, "Dolly," is about going to sleep by counting cute sheep...cloned cute sheep. A biting social commentary. The second song, "I Wanna Eat Choco Bars," is off the '86 LP Pretty Little Baka Guy, and is about singer Naoko Yamano's desire...nay...compulsion, to manually strangulate prostitutes.

Just kidding. Actually, she wants to eat choco bars.

January 20, 2006

Remember That Club Scene From "Blade"?

I'm a Vampire / Future Bible Heroes

Definitely the best song by any Magnetic Fields side project. Imagine Stephen Dorff, John Malkovich, Tom Cruise, Eddie Murphy, and one of the blood-suckers from the Buffy movie (not starring Sarah Michelle Gellar) all dancing together at an impossibly glam Halloween party hosted by Stephin Merritt. The eternal Claudia Gonson is onstage singing, and it sounds like this.

I'm a Vampire (extended version) / Future Bible Heroes

The remix is inferior, but it's longer and the extra minutes are appreciated. It's also further dancified and adds a nice "Ba-ba-ba-ba" backing vocal from the Vampiress herself. Still, if I was gonna remix this treasure, I'd just copy & paste it after itself and title the project "I'm 2 Vampires." Go here to buy Eternal Youth. Yeah, it's that easy.

Ve Belief in Nahseen

Technopolis / Yellow Magic Orchestra

The sorta-kraftwerky Japanese technopop group Yellow Magic Orchestra formed as a one-time studio project in '78, but were soon just so darned sorta-influential that the three original members (joined on stage by a large synth-twiddling backup band) stayed together until '84, parting ways on sorta-friendly terms. Haruomi got the cat, Yukihiro got the samples, and Ryuichi gets to see the kids on the weekend. This track is off their second album, and is quite representative of what might be termed their "NES Final Boss Theme Music" period.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence / Ryuichi Sakamoto

So where are they now? Well, that happy vibration in your pants may just be Ryuichi. He's doing ringtones. Also the occasional movie score...this track is an early one from the '83 film Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, in which he pulled double duty as music-writer-guy and leading man opposite David "I could act my way out of a Labyrinth" Bowie.

January 19, 2006

A Teeth-Whitening Pep Rally

MP3 Lovely / Kim Jong-guk [down]

This is the very beginning of the soon to be eminent We Pass Notes On Bananas, so the two songs for today are supposed to represent the opposite extremes of music in South Korea. This one's by Kim Jong-guk who's been around ten years and still has the voice of a castrated angel, not to mention hair that appears to be unshatterable. "Lovely" is from his third album, This Is Me (2005), and can currently be heard on every radio in every convenience store throughout the land. I'd tell you to buy the album and support Mr. Kim, but the melody is so catchy and the song so ridiculous that you probably won't want to. Plus, he's got to be a jillionaire by now.

MP3 Ping / The Ten Speeds

In contrast, The Ten Speeds barely exist. They only record when their London-based guitarist visits Seoul. They have no drummer. And their bassist is a Canadian who's been living in Korea for ten years and plans to leave soon. (He wears a Paul McCartney hat and drives a purple scooter.) But "Ping" is good, if unpolished, Ian Curtis worship, and the band somehow continues to survive in an underground scene focused primarily on punk and noise. I'd tell you to buy the album, but it's not an album and it costs nothing. "Ping" and five other tracks are available at the website for Double Riche, the band's moniker before it was rechristened The Ten Speeds. Like, you know, a bicycle.

More on The Ten Speeds...