Archive for December, 2012

Never Let It Go

Never let it go – Dolly Mixture

A lot of Dolly Mixture lately. There is an official version of this, as i think there might be official version of some of the other Dolly Mixture songs, but i have the Demonstration Tapes compilation at hand so that is where they are coming from. It is such a great collection, spanning their whole career with versions of songs that are better than what of it they put out as singles. That said, spanning as it does the five years they were a band, there is a noticeable drop when they started becoming less of the perfect band they started as, playing slower, longer, playing unnecessarily more sophisticatedly and ambitiously.

It happens to most bands, and the songs are still very good and still carry the band’s essence, but there is a noticeable change. This is song is about when that change happens. It does have that on-the-beat bridge/instrumental break with the acoustic guitar, however, which is one of my favourite Dolly Mixture moments. The single version messes too much with it.

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My Melody

My melody – Funny Little Dream

It is of my opinion and bare impression that South East Asia has been the most exciting place for indie pop music these past few years. There has been a boom, with incredible bands from Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and elsewhere networking together, touring, releasing and distributing things to each other. A lot of them are very successful for the little pop bands they are, appearing on TV and getting good press coverage in their respective countries, but it all exists, remains, yet thrives within its regional cloister. Why it happened there i don’t know. Of course it should happen, and the really strong networks there and the internet enabled it, but what led to it beyond people in those countries realising this is the best music to make? I should just be glad it did happen.

Of course Australia is not part of that network and never looks to its closest neighbours to share, influence and be influenced by anything, and perhaps because of that nothing equivalent to the South East Asian indie boom has happened here. And no one here has made any strong effort to link up with it, so i have to look elsewhere to find out about its bands and happenings. Funny Little Dream make some of my favourite music in the the world. They are Peppy and Ganesha from Indonesia, one of the closest countries to my own, yet i find out about them through labels like Cloudberry and Dufflecoat.

It seems wrong. We should be talking to each other, sharing. It has happened somewhat on the more hardcore punk front, yet it hasn’t happened here on the wimp front. It seems reflective of the greater way we view (read: overlook, other) the region, politically, economically, socially. We never want to admit we are part of it. Why would anyone not want to part of this?

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Ernie Ball

Ernie Ball – Dolly Mixture

This song can’t be exactly one minute, can it? I’ve heard it so many times and it has never seemed short. There’s so many things in it that it seems impossible to fit it in that time frame. I wholeheartedly believe that it can, and that more songs would be better if they were one minute long, but that’s mostly just me being ambitious or bored by songs that are too long. I never really expect to see it in practice, and never would hope to find it this perfectly. There’s an entire world of pop in here – expression and reflection. How tried and true is that “ooh-ooh-ooh” that finds the verse’s key, yet who but Dolly Mixture would believe in it so and think to start their song with it in their day and age? In a song they could only pack so many hooky things in? They were channeling an exactness.

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Do You Still Hate Me?

Do you still hate me? – Jawbreaker

Sorry, faithful reader, but i had a busy social day for a change, so here’s a video of them playing this song. Blake was a handsome man. That, his forlorn preponderance for emotion and meaningful things, and his way with words when not spiteful, he must have been a dangerous guy!

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Osaki ni shitsurei – Onyanko Club

Another movie song. Yes, the Onyanko Club had their own movie. As if they wouldn’t. You have the music, you have the TV show, you have the clothing line, the photobooks, the every piece of merchandise that anyone has ever found a way to print on – of course there’s going to be a movie. This song was written for and released with it.

But it is an odd thing. A key, assumed ingredient to it, one would think, would be for the members of the Onyanko Club to have starring roles. They are in it, but none of them have speaking parts and their inclusion is near entirely made up of documentary footage of rehearsals, radio and TV interviews, seaside frolicking and the second graduation concert at Yokohama Stadium. Instead, we get for a plot a marathon runner, a bootlegging ring, an assassination attempt, all bunch of nonsense that exists completely discrete to the girls.

It doesn’t make sense. Instead of their A Hard Day’s Night we were given a Can’t Buy Me Love, except one made not with nostalgia but contemporaneously and with complete input from Onyanko Corp. Were people happy with that? I wasn’t. It’s not like they couldn’t act or didn’t harbour desires to act. They were in all manner of dramas and commercials and always did fine jobs. Maybe it was an image thing – that they here would be playing themselves and not characters, and that had to be controlled. But they were nothing but their goofy selves every week on Yuyake Nyan Nyan! I don’t know. Most likely another, completely unrelated project had the Onyanko brand tacked on to it so it would sell. You can probably go on living very happily with yourself never making the effort to see it.

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Mismatched couples – Teresa Carpio

This is the theme to the Donnie Yen vehicle Mismatched Couples, which i watched last night. I don’t actually know it’s title but Hong Kong cinema convention says it as well is Mismatched Couples. It’s quite the movie. Directed by (and also co-starring) Yen Woo-ping, Donnie Yen’s martial arts expertise is funneled for the purposes of breakdancing, serving punks, winning hearts and living free, and the results are just as endlessly frenetic, exciting and playful as their other more genre-conventional action/martial arts collaborations. There is a scene where he plays tennis using the wheels of the BMX he is riding. Sold!

And this incredible song is on the soundtrack. Teresa Carpio had been in the business 10 years by this time, singing mostly ballads and Western cover songs in English, some of them appearing on other Hong Kong film soundtracks. Then 1985 happened, i guess hip hop had to hit the Hong Kong mainstream and she was given this song to do. And what a song. Who knew she could do this? The stabbing syllables of the Cantonese language work so perfectly in hip hop, and everything about it makes it seem there was no cooler place in the world in the mid-80’s than Hong Kong. Judging solely and misguidedly from their cinema, i tend to agree.

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Jaa Ne

Jaa ne – Onyanko Club

See ya. I mean Merry Christmas. The Onyanko Club actually released a Christmas album, and i own it, because i’m really cool or a lost cause. It depends on who you talk to. Of course it would have been more appropriate if a song from that had come this morning, but i don’t choose these things they choose me. Instead we have this, with Nakajima Miharu on lead vocals as her graduation song. It would become a tradition for it to be sung at every teary Onyanko Club graduation.

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Plan 13

Plan 13 – Riverdales

It was once pessimistically hoped by Ben Weasel that people would come to one day appreciate the incredible second Riverdales album in favour of their more conventionally pop punk and much more successful first. It took me some time, but i did come around and would now list Storm The Streets among my most favourite ever. It is the greatest approximation to the essence of the Ramones ever made, from the geometry of the guitar, to the demented cartoon and pop American-ness of the lyrics, to that one chord being held requisitely long enough for everything to come back around again, to a stringent dedication to and sufficiency of downstrokes, to every song launching from a “1-2-3-4!”.

This song is actually on that first self-titled album but is one of the most Storm The Streets sounding on there. Dig the middle break after the second time around, where a unison “GO!” drives the song into this kind of music’s perfection. Yes do dig it.

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바람아 멈추어다오 – 이지연

This is the same song as yesterday, so don’t get marginally less excited. I’m leaving it in Hangeul because honestly i don’t know what the title should be translated. Wind and stop, but “wind, stop blowing,” “the wind stopped” or “the wind stopped it all.” Or none of the above. Ho hum. Also i’m going to post a video of her singing this instead of writing anything else about it today.

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Wind, Stop Blowing

바람아 멈추어다 – Lee Ji-yeon

I’m not sure of the translation. Lee Ji-yeon was Kim Wan-seon’s main rival in the late 80’s Korean pop world, or so i’ve heard. And that’s about the limit of what i’ve heard. It’s a hard thing finding information on older K-pop. Maybe if i could read Korean, and build up the courage to negotiate the buggy, ad-ridden nightmare that is the Korean internet, but even then i’m not sure i would get more than “my dad/mum used to play this all the time.” While that is all very fine and informative and heartening, because what more do you need to know about music other than it meant something to people, i would like to know maybe a little more about these songs that float my way and excite me so. Oh, i’ve also learned that they were both really pretty.

Of course there is information out there, but this morning i can only work with what i know. So to settle on this Lee Ji-yeon/Kim Wan-seon rivalry – that no further information on either is worth surfacing or discussing – i go with Kim Wan-seon. To move beyond it though, beyond one camp or the other, beyond championing one to forsake all others, Lee Ji-yeon is another rewarding part of a very rich, very exciting time in music (and i suppose nationhood as well). I think this song was her biggest hit. It’s such a gentle thing.

There is something else about her to be found on the internet. In 1999 she moved to Atlanta, attended a prestigious culinary school and now runs and is head chef at a very successful, very decorated Korean barbeque restaurant. What a life. I guess that’s the kind of success that maybe be due to someone with dreams and the determination and capacity to see them through. That’s what they say…

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