domingo, dezembro 23, 2007

Happy New Ears

Helaba, I’m back! I known, it’s been a while, shame on me. The last time I was hanging around here was 2 weeks ago and before that, things were already going slow but I’ve been really absorbed by all things spelling W.O.R.K.
Time for a change now, the holidays are here so I will probably have some time to spend in lalaland.

I’m not that fond of Christmas spirits, paraphernalia and all but Christmas will be a traditional family matter this time. New year’s eve on the other hand will be among friends abroad. I’m heading off to Dublin for… what? Yes for what, I have absolutely no idea what to expect. A friend invited me to join her while she’s there. None of us knows what’s going on in Dublin around this time of year. We will see but based on the fact that all hotels and B&B’s are fully booked on the 31st of December, we will probably not be the only ones. If any one has some bright ideas, they’re welcome to share them. Now scream ;-)

Sparks - Thank God It’s Not Christmas, yet

Around this time of year all sorts of lists are popping up with people’s favourites of the year. I’m not preparing my own special little top-10 or top whatever but it’s always a good moment to reflect what kind of music has gotten under my skin and more important to check if I haven’t missed out on any really smashing releases this year.
My first finding while going through other people’s lists on the net is how homogeneous or similar they all are. There’s a lot of consensus this year, it seams, on what the best records in terms of popular music should be. I must say, that many of them would also appear in my imaginative list. It’s pretty obvious that Mirrored from Battles is going around town.
There are some differences off course. Some names are totally unfamiliar to me, so they make me hungry to find out what’s it all about, some names are apparently only familiar to your's truly. There are some recent discoveries that I made – working my rocks off doesn’t mean I don’t keep my ears open – which are still fresh in my mind.

One of them is Midori. Midori is a Japanese band with first only a cassette, than a full CD in april and now a new EP with some pretty fancy noise in the best Japanese tradition. It’s jazz with a punkrock attitude or as they call it themselves a 'romantic erotic chaotic sentimental death'. It’s high energy piano, bass and drum playing jazz in combination with a young girl playing guitar while screaming on the top of her lungs.
Midori is definitely a case of love or hate. Some people will hate the way she sings and the constantly shifting rhythms and electric eruptions, others will see the fun of it and like the weird combination and how it all works together apparently.

Midori – First (2005)

Midori – Second (2007)
ドーピング☆ノイズノイズキッス (Doping Noise Noise Kiss)
声を聞きたいのですが、聞こえないのです (Koe o Kikitai no desu ga, Kikoenai desu)
あんたは誰や (Anta wa Dare ya)
都会のにおい。(Tokai no Nioi)

Midori – Shimizu (2007)
愛って悲しいね (ai tte kanashii ne)
エゾジカ・ダンス!(ezo shika dance!!)

Another recent revelation is a bit more popular. The band Yeasayer released a first album, All Hour Cymbals, just a month ago, if I’m not mistaken, and I really like it. Again, it sounds like a weird combination, but it grows on ya. Forgiveness for instance sounds like an electronic remix of The Byrds playing some Afrobeat or highlife. On paper is looks like a no go area but it sounds pretty ok.
At times the hybrid of folkiness and the dynamics of rock reminds me of another band from a while ago called Macha. They made two really great albums in the late nineties with a combination of modern indie rock and Javanese gamelan music and other indigenous sounds.

Yeasayer – Forgiveness
Yeasayer – Sunrise

One artist that came to my attention this year and which has a fine future ahead of her is Janelle Monáe. She’s currently working on a concept album of some sort about Metropolis with a story and a look similar to the famous Fritz Lang movie. She will be releasing EP's in series which is a bit similar to the way Roisin Murphy released her solo debut Ruby Blue.
I first heard her voice on a Outkast track from their last album. She’s no backing vocal material but really somethin’ in her own right. There are some live clips on youtube as proof that she’s ready for more and far better stuff. Definitely a name to remember. I know I will.

Janelle Monáe – Sincerely Jane

Other names are Studio, Planningtorock, Octopus Project, Damian Marley, Centenaire, Clark, Miracle Fortress, Phosphorescent, Anekdoten, Pimps of Joytime, Chico Mann and all the other great offspring from Antibalas, Wombats, many wonderful compilations with new, less new and old stuff … and all the other usual suspects on other lists that made me dance, laugh or cry this year.
I will post more of it later on.

Also coming up is some Raï and music from Khaled who delivered a fantastic concert a week ago, even though he had a bit of a cold. I have to keep my promises, so Pinback is also on it’s way. It seems like work isn’t over yet :)

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