Wednesday, October 15, 2014


On Wednesday, October 15, Bodega Pop Live on WFMU's Give the Drummer Radio spun music from the beloved Pakistani playback singer who lent her voice to the only Pakistani film ever banned by the BBC — as well as rare studio recordings and sizzling live tracks from half a dozen or so other recording artists we’re officially stalking, including:

·        A recently unearthed over-the-top live recording by a Syrian diva who recently had her passport revoked for her vocal criticism of Bashar Assad

·        Career-spanning tracks from the Polish rocker known as much for his James Brown-like performances as for his forward-looking prog and moog-y concept albums

·        A few greatest hits by the craziest Southeast Asian rapper we’ve ever heard

·        Our favorite cuts by our favorite politicized twee band in the world

·        An unreleased early live performance by one of the towering giants of Algerian rai


Oct 22: GAL PALS | DJ Amanda Nazario joins Gary to co-host super thrill–inducing garage pop duo GAL PALS. Lauren Marie Mikus and Jillian Talley will stop by the studio to perform early hits + songs from their upcoming debut album, and spin some of the music that influenced and inspires them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Olympians | The 45s 1966-1971

Reupped by reader request, here.

[Originaly written and posted November 1, 2012.] So, contrary to my rather cavalier pre-Sandy post last Sunday, here I am about to talk about the storm. Not to reiterate on the enormous damage it has caused up and down the east coast, but to turn your attention to the magazine I've been writing for since this summer, Open City. A number of writers associated with that online journal were asked yesterday to report on the storm's impact on New York's immigrant cultures by editor Kai Ma, who is a personal hero of mine for having started a magazine that focuses on immigrant culture in New York City in the first place. 

Now Kai is assembling and editing these reports from around the New York City area on the special impact the storm has had on these immigrants who, frankly, make this city (as well as this humble music blog) what it is. The first report, from Sukjong Hong, just went up today; you can read it here

My neighborhood, Astoria, didn't fare as poorly as others, though there is at least one tree downed on every other block. (Some 10,000 trees reportedly toppled in Queens alone.) We were lucky. Very, very lucky.

Today, while one of my co-workers relocated to Brooklyn with her family from their powerless, waterless apartment on the easternmost edge of Manhattan's Chinatown, I had the relative luxury of wandering around Astoria, surveying pockets of damage here and there, and marveling at the number of businesses--pretty much all of them--that have reopened in Sandy's wake. (Truth be told, most reopened yesterday.) Including one of my go-to immigrant-run stores: GMV, or Greek Music & Video Inc. (25-50 31st Street, Astoria, NY 11102).

As you'll remember, back in February I found this fabulous CD by surf-garage-psych band The Olympians at GMV; today, I returned to the same spot in the stacks and discovered the subject of today's post: A collection assembled in 1996 of the band's earliest 45 records.

The CD includes original songs and covers in both English and Greek (including a Greek version of the Kinks' "Lola") spanning the first five years of the band's existence. It's a rock-solid, life-affirming collection that I'm going to guess many of you, regular visitors and those who may have stepped in to the Bodega for the first time today, will enjoy.

And for everyone whose lives were affected by this truly unprecedented storm, our thoughts are with you ...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

On the DL | Interstellar Medium

In celebration of the Bodega's Music Blog of the Year: Interstellar Medium | Lavish Foreign Sounds, Bodega Pop Live on WFMU's Give the Drummer Radio spun choice downloads from collector-fanatic Gabriel Aguillar's head-dizzying altar to 1960s-70s international psychedelic music and exotica, from Azerbaijan to Macedonia to Yemen, and multiple points in between. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


On October 1, Bodega Pop Live on WFMU's Give the Drummer Radio spun the most memorable tracks from our favorite CDs found in three dozen different bodegas, in the order we remembered them. A radio broadcast in the form of Joe Brainard's enduring masterpiece.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


On September 24, Bodega Pop Live on WFMU’s Give the Drummer Radio celebrated Brazilian legend Caetano Veloso’s U.S. tour with a three-hour psychedelic trip through the fuzziest, funkiest, freakiest, hard Tropicália garage rockin’est grooves ever released in República Federativa do Brasil. Leave your Ordem e Progresso at the door!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Take a wild ride through the colorful, frenetic streets of Cairo as Gary Sullivan spins an electrifying sound collage featuring Egyptian chip-hop rebels, early 20th century cafe stars, veiled feminist rappers, Jewish cinema icons and guitar-shredding martyrs. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Whether you spell it amor or amourmiłość or , pop music wouldn’t exist without it.

On Wednesday, Sept 10, Bodega Pop Live on WFMU’s Give the Drummer Radio celebrated feelings and states from interpersonal affection to pleasure as expressed by Japanese pornographers, Hong Kong hipsters, Egyptian DJs, and lovelorn balladeers from Bosnia to Vietnam.

Listen to the show in the archives

Various Artists | DANCE (Greece, 1969)

Listen to Popi Asteriadi's "In Filopappou"

Listen to Nelly Manou's "Crazy Girl"

Listen to Bodega Pop Live's three-hour Greek pop program, Highway to Hellas! 

Get the 14-track album here

I found this lavishly compelling late-sixties Greek garage-pop album a couple of weeks ago in the $3 bin at the Greek Music and Video Superstore (23-33 31st Street, Astoria). I'd gone from my apartment on the LIC-Astoria border up into Astoria proper to meet my cousin Takashi (technically my cousin Rebecca's son) for lunch at BZ Grill before he headed out for a gig in Iceland.

We'd scheduled lunch on the late side, which allowed me to more than simply "pop in" to the Superstore. Honestly? I gave myself a full hour to scrape my way through the store's numerous cheapo bins (because, God forbid I miss anything, right?). When I saw the cover of today's offering, I fell in love.

"What can you tell me about this CD?" I asked the woman behind the counter. (I held back the urge to blurt out, "BECAUSE IT'S GREEK TO ME." Good going, me!) She took it from my hands, turning it over once or twice, squinting at it. I was expecting, given the Aubrey Beardsleyesque cover, that it might be Greek showtunes or something along those lines. "It's kind of ... popular music ... sixties."

"Real sixties?" I asked, having no clue what I meant by that.

"Yes," she affirmed. 

It turns out, she was right.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


On Wednesday, September 3, Bodega Pop Live on WFMU’s Give the Drummer Radio served up three hours of the rawest + rarest in darkwave entehno, garage laiko and psychedelic rebetiko from Ανδρεας Ζακυνθινακης to Ζωντανοί Νεκροί.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


TONIGHT from 7-10 PM EDT, Bodega Pop Live on WFMU's Give the Drummer Radio will play three solid hours of PERFECT POP.

What do I mean by PERFECT POP? Something like WHAT THESE SCIENTISTS ARE CONCOCTING, perhaps?


No, my dear friends, that is not what I mean.

Would you like to know what I mean?

THIS, my friends. THIS is what I mean.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Bodega Pop's Power Lunch!

On Monday, August 25, Bodega Pop Live filled in for destination: OUT on WFMU's Give the Drummer Radio.

We stuffed our faces with mounds of fresh Indo-Italian progressive rock, Gambian acid funk, Mandarin Malaysian twee and Singaporean Britpop--and had room leftover for a bit of tea and Turkish delight ..

Listen to the show now in the archives

Friday, August 22, 2014

Unknown Cambodian Singers | Angkor Wat #21

Listen to the haunting second track

Grab the whole album HERE

Last April I flew out to Seattle for a few days to give a talk at the Experience Music Project's 2014 Annual Conference on Rebecca Pan, the migration of Chinese-language pop from Shanghai to Hong Kong, and the emergence of the Special Administrative Region's indie music scene in the early to mid aughts.

My third day in the city I took the light rail from where I was holed up downtown to the Othello stop in Rainer Valley, home to the area's most culturally and economically diverse population. On my way in from the airport I had seen a largish Lao grocery store, which subsequent Yelping revealed to be the most likely place in the city to find international music on CD. 

Even before I found the Lao store--which required a 15-20 minute walk back up north from the station--I stumbled onto the Phnom Penh Market (7123 Martin Luther King Jr Way) just a few short steps up MLK from the station.

I walked in. I approached the counter. I smiled at the three women, from what seemed like as many generations, futzing around, reordering things. I noticed a couple of tallish stacks of CDs near the register. I feigned an interest some immeasurable sum milder than the actual interest I was feeling and which was causing my body to intensely vibrate from within.

"Are those C-C-Cambodian CDs?" I asked. 

"Not CDs," Generation One snapped. "Those are VCDs." 

I played dumb. "Could I maybe see a couple? I'm a, uh--" and here my voice trailed off, as I realized just how little she probably cared what I was, other than some dopey-looking white guy who clearly wanted something from her. To my happy surprise, she brought over a few to let me have a look.

She was right. Sort of. All but one of the grime-encrusted jewel-encased discs of polycarbonate plastic said "VCD" rather prominently on their covers. I lifted the one that didn't, and pointed at it, my finger clearly trembling.

"Do you have any more like this?" I ventured, "any, uh, CDs?"

"CDs? Not VCDs?" the kinder, gentler Generation Two asked.

"Yeah. CDs."

She dug around. And found one. And then another. And then another. Generation Three offered her help. Together, they found 10. And then 11. And then 12, 13, 14, 15. By the time they were done, there were 20 Khmer / Cambodian CDs, most from the 1990s, stacked up on the counter before me. I tried to hide my excitement. 

"I'LL TAKE THEM ALL," I heard myself blurting out. 

This is one of them. 

You can hear cuts from the rest of the haul here.