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Archive for November, 2012

Run

Run – Look & Listen

This song also has a video. Let’s watch it together! Drumming for a band like this would be my dream job, so let’s make this guy disappear in some Spinal Tap accident so i can move in.

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Run

Run – Look & Listen

Part of the reason i’m so invested in the pop side of Korean music is that most of the rock stuff i have found is total garbage. Well maybe garbage is is too strong, but it all seems to skirt a line between dull, safe Interpol/Muse space-rock clones, Jason Mraz torture and is-this-christian-rock? rock, and my interests by their very nature cannot live on that spectrum. I know the stuff i want exists, but like everywhere it is overclouded by the boring things. It’s made harder in that not being on the ground and not speaking the language, i’m left reliant on others to delve in and disseminate, and what they do disseminate lies strictly and comfortably on that spectrum – all of which i’m coming to find is from a similar machine to the larger Korean entertainment industry, so why don’t i just listen to K-pop?

Even the punk bands in Korea seem devoid of the important things – the DIY, non-contrived things. What i want is music that is satisfied with a small reach, and the exiting things that happen under such satisfaction. The weird stuff not beholden to image or construct – music that just is, made by kids in highrises or parks, played anywhere to anyone for no good reason. I know it exists – it can’t not – but it is hard to find. I found it so brilliantly in Mukimukimanmansu (who i’ve never written about here for i’m assuming the same mental block that’s made me never write about Fugazi or Minutemen or Sleater-Kinney or the many other bands who mean too much to me), and also, for today, Look & Listen.

This is loaded and makes me uncomfortable to say, but to me they are a Korean Shonen Knife. That’s an obvious comparison to put to a band of Asian girls playing simple, goofy, ceaselessly fun, perfect, punky guitar pop, but i’d like to have it come across as an apt one and not one feeding into the “Korean version of __________” line. And it is not a lesser comparison: Everything wonderful, exciting and vital in Shonen Knife i see as well in Look & Listen. And it seems something that could not happen, or at least happen in this way, if it were not for the trails Shonen Knife cut. They could entirely be an influence, and to say no to that is to ignore the intra-Asian impact of Shonen Knife, or indeed any Asian music we feel in the West. We’re not the only ones who listen to music – who are served and moved by it.

Anyway, if not directly influenced by, they are drawing from precisely the magic that made Shonen Knife as fantastic as they were, although Look & Listen do sing less songs about food. If only Beat Happening had toured Korea nowdays instead of Japan twenty-five years ago. The final comparison i’ll make is that like Shonen Knife’s songs, this song is sung in English. Most of Look & Listens are which is a little unfortunate. But they are great and they are fun and they are now! So check them out!! I never say that!!! 룩앤리슨!!!!

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Kindan no Telepathy

Kindan no telepathy – Kudo Shizuka

This was her debut single, so everything was set right from the beginning. I’ve only really kept to the beginning. It seems i’m anchored to 1986 in Japan’s pop history, taking baby steps beyond and before that date, where everything seemed to attain perfection. Here we are at 1987, but what about 1988? What about today? We’ll get to that. This is my favourite song of Shizuka’s that i’ve heard. I especially love the way it returns to the last chorus after the left-right panning synth break, where alone she sings and goes off time, punctuating the drums as everything kicks back in. I’m good at describing music.

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Bringing Up Baby

Bringing up baby – Talulah Gosh

I had to look up the lyrics to this song to see how close it was to the film Bringing Up Baby, or moreso Katharine Hepburn, complete with her name at the end. It’s in plain English – the plainest – but i’ve never been able to hear it before. But it’s not exactly congruous with everything in her life or movies, and it drives me crazy. What is this song about? Maybe it just is about her, and everything that doesn’t fit is the result of misheard details that ring too much suitable for their venerated image of her to be fact-checked. Sometimes the particulars simply don’t matter. I’m just glad there’s not only a band who sounds like this, but sing songs about things such as this. A chart hit for Talulah Gosh. The indie charts, but still it was a hit.

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Jounetsu Rainbow

Jounetsu Rainbow – Takai Mamiko

Doing this every day of the year, one of those is going to fall on my birthday, and this is my birthday song for 2012. A marker of where i am in my life, i don’t think there could be a more apt song. A marker musically, at least. The joy this song carries doesn’t fit so well. Birthdays…

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I should have played football in high school – Chixdiggit!

I’ve watched more than enough episodes of Friday Night Lights to know that that wouldn’t be the worst way to spend high school. And that’s kind of what this song is about: That weird shifting of allegiances where people you hated and lived and aspired very differently from start moving freely post-high school into places, personae and predilections they during school would not have been caught dead in. i.e. Yours. And then you turn to think that if nothing matters, nothing is set, and nothing depends on steadfast suffering, then why didn’t we just spend high school safe and determined in the places and patterns that would have allowed us to be, instead of seeing our refuge one day co-opted by the very people we were free from within.

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Again

Again – Kudo Shizuka

Onyanko Club member #38, but that hardly matters when talking about her solo career. Sure it raised her profile and there was an inbuilt following for anything she did post-Onyanko, but the solo Shizuka was a world away from the short-haired, bushy-eyebrowed girl engulfed in an oversized Hip’s Road jumper singing back-up to more popular members’ songs. She was huge. One of the biggest Japanese popstars ever, defining a sound and a cool for the late 80’s and early 90’s, and my could she sing. Looking back, though, you can read every bit of her talent and impending success in her Onyanko years, but it’s still funny to think it came from that quiet, diminutive, mousy girl who seemed shocked every time she happened to be caught on camera. It takes something big to carry such big songs, and she certainly grew into it.

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We Are Potshot

We are Potshot – Potshot

Ska. 3rd wave. I was there. Not so much a song as the introduction to the album – an album many many years ago i wanted more than anything else, but didn’t have the money or a good enough record store nearby to get. I’m not sure where i found it. I think maybe it was the sadly/not-so-sadly gone Blacktown Discount Records store. Regardless, by the time i did find it i was falling very rapidly out of the phase and the person i was where this music would have meant the most to me. But, just to never let myself be wrong and value myself at every passing, informing stage of development, i did still listen to it. Too much. But they sound like they are having fun. I had fun.

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Therese

Therese – The Bodines

Sometimes i can’t tell if i like songs or not, and today it is this song’s turn. A song i’m sure i’ve decided somewhere in my past that i love, but today i’m not so sure. Of course any detraction i lay to it is outside of the song itself, coming from imagined social proddings, how cool it is and to whom, and whether or not it is appropriate for me to like. Stupid things. Ones that swell in proportion to my distance to it – to the last time i heard it and the last time i fell in love with it again. This song is so good.

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Car Situations

Car situations (nasal passage) – Storm Bugs

The Messthetics compilations are some of the greatest compilations ever made. Who would know about Storm Bugs and the probably one tape they dubbed fifty copies of and sent through the mail to a British-wide community of like-minded, like-aspirated bands if it weren’t for them? Who would know the incredible depths bedroom recording reached in the post-punk era if it weren’t for them making their best ethnomusicological effort to unearth and guide us through it? Who would miss it if they never bothered to? Who’s glad they did? Me.

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