Friday, December 30, 2011

BEST ALBUMS OF 2011 | REPOSTING

[I posted this a week or two ago but am reposting it, given that there's only two days left of the year. I'm going to start off 2012 by reposting albums from the first month or two of this blog, back before I was putting everything into a single zip file, making downloading infuriating-to-impossible. So, watch out for that.]

I've provided links to get this music, all for free, and all from others' uploads. (I was surprised to find each of these online somewhere; I didn't have to upload anything.) I encourage you in every case to seek out original CDs and actually buy them, whenever possible. Also, I can't guarantee that everything will still be there in month or so--or even in a week or two ...

Marshmallow Kisses
Ciao!Baby

Released January 25, 2011
This is one of my top two CDs of the year, and possibly the album I listened to most after discovering it online a couple of months ago while sleuthing around about Hong Kong underground music. While the MKs are somewhat late to the Hong Kong twee party, their first two albums (their first being I Wonder Why My Favorite Boy Leaves Me an EP) have delivered far beyond my own expectations for the genre ... and I'm a huge fan of HK twee pioneers My Little Airport, Ketchup and the Pancakes.

I have no idea what sort of legs this terrific ray of sunshine would have outside of the Special Administrative Region, but it seems criminal that not even Pitchfork seems to know about it. Get it here.


Listen to "Jazz for Lovers; Solitude for Me"

* * *


Deerhoof
Deerhoof vs. Evil

Released January 25, 2011

I'm just as shocked as you are to see a U.S. band among my top 10, but along with Ciao!Baby, this was my most listened to CD all year. (My two top faves of the year were both released on January 25.) In another 2011 top 10 I read online, someone else described the album as "utilitarian," noting the lukewarm response it received from critics, who generally like the album but complain about it being unfocused, or even ADD. That actually makes it the perfect record for the kind of listener I am: completely bored with the simplicity of most western popular music but not terribly thrilled by most jazz or classical, either. It's what's driven me to track down every Albanian, Bangladeshi, Brazilian, Burmese, etc., etc. bodega in NYC, where I can get music I can really respond to on a visceral level. (Most western critics write about pop as if they respond to it on a purely socio-semiotic level; reading music more than than listening to it.)

Personally, I think this is the best album Deerhoof has ever made: sonically rich, forward-looking, utterly brilliant pop that sounds like it couldn't possibly have been made in this country. Get it here.


Listen to "Qui Dorm, Només Somia"
* * *

Najwa Karam
Hal Leile ... Ma Fi Noum 
Released June 28, 2011
Holy crap, but I love Najwa Karam. I have--I'll admit it--zero objectivity when it comes to this woman; she could release an album sitting on the toilet reading Jewel poems translated into Arabic and I'm sure I'd buy it, listen to it and profess my undying love for it. That said, trust me when I tell you that this record totally and unimpeachably fucking rocks. Other than her voice getting consistently deeper and more powerful, little has changed since the Lebanese superstar began recording in the late 80s: nearly every record she puts out is either the dabke or the baladi equivalent of AC/DC, Rolling Stones or, closer to home, Hakim. And this one, quite honestly, is the most rockin' she's put out in a few years--it's like the Some Girls of her career.

Did I mention how hard she rocks? Or how hard this record rocks? If this wasn't such a recent purchase for me, it would probably be right up there with Deerhoof and Marshmallow Kisses in the "most-listened-to" category. I'm sure it'll earn that status soon enough. Get it here.


Listen to "Ya Baie"

* * *

Sōtaisei Riron
Correct Theory of Relativity

Released April 27, 2011

Sōtaisei Riron means "theory of relativity," so the title is kind of a play on the idea of a correct theory and the fact that most of this album is made up of remixes of the band's earlier work by Yoshihide Otomo, Spank Happy, Buffalo Daughter, Arto Lindsay, Cornelius and others. These aren't, however, remixes that sound like remixes--this album is completely unique, beautiful and totally perplexing. (Track three, for instance, is NOT a mistake; although it took me several tries before I was able to listen all the way through to the end and realize what, exactly, it is.) Perhaps appropriately, the first song, "Q/P," one of the two non-remixes on the album, opens with the words: "I. Don't know. Wha. Choowhachoo want ..."

The band has come a long way from its kind of Smiths-soundalike-with-female-lead-singer, and this album, though I bet it throws some fans off, is another great surge forward. Get it here.


Listen to "Q/P"
* * *

Pairs
Summer Sweat
Released September 30, 2011

I know next to nothing about this band, which I "discovered" via Music Has the Right to People a couple of weeks ago. From what I've been able to suss out, it's a male-female duo based in Shanghai; this is their second album; and this one was produced by Yanghai Song of Beijing punk superstars PK14. When my absolute favorite Chinese punk band, Subs, released the deeply disappointing Queen of Fucking Everything last year, followed this year by a less-than-thrilling Honeyed and Killed from the once fabulous Hedgehog, I just assumed that punk in China had shot its wad. Apparently, it's just moved south to Shanghai.

This record is stripped down, extremely raw and in some ways every bit as surprising as Wire's Pink Flag (songs range in length from the 52 second "Christmas" to the nearly five-minute long "My body is not a wonderland"). I suspect it'll convince at least a few of the more cynical of you out there that, in fact, "punk's not dead." Get it here.


Listen to "Cloud Nine"

* * *
Zee Avi
Ghostbird
Released August 23, 2011

This is the only record (other than the Deerhoof) that actually, so far as I know, has legs here in the U.S. In fact, you're more likely to know more about her than I do, as I only recently stumbled onto this record, wholly by accident, while scrolling through the music blog Chinese Music Collection. (Yes, I know she's Malaysian; thanks.) I don't know what her record was doing on that blog, but there it was, and I'm rather happy to have it, although I have no idea if I'll still be listening to it in another week or two; it's already starting to feel ickily like any number of earnest American or British neo-folkers whose work I have strenuously attempted to avoid for the last several years.

That said, I do love "Siboh Kitak Nangis" and "The Book of Morris Johnson," neither of which I can imagine getting tired of any time soon. Get it here.


Listen to "The Book of Morris Johnson"
* * *

Guitar Wolf
Spacebattleshiplove
Released, golly ... sometime in 2011

This is a self-released album, recorded in Tokyo in 2010 and intended to be sold during Guitar Wolf's 2011 Hoochie Coochie Space Men North American tour. It is so ear-shreddingly raw, so super em effin' rockin', words simply can't describe how much I love it. How is it that, while 80s Japan rockers Shonen Knife have gotten increasingly self-consciously cute, Guitar Wolf has just gotten more fucked-up and awesome? Don't get me wrong; I love both bands. But GW has no right to be this full of energy, this rockin', this far into their career. For one thing, it isn't fair to everyone else. For another, it's just confusing. 

Get it here.


Listen to "Hoochie Coochie Spaceman"
* * *

Da Bang
Bone Hug
Released October 1, 2011
I'm seriously running out of steam here, so don't expect a lot of vivid description at this point. And, honestly, we're starting to get into "uneven" territory now. But the "end of year" convention demands 10 albums so, so help me god, that's what I'll deliver. I don't love everything on this record, but I love the stuff that sounds like super-jacked up 80s synth pop, especially "No-Hero-Days," which is as good as anything Big Sea Queen Shark has recorded, and "冰心" (which I'm assuming is about the famous Chinese writer of the same name).

Definitely worth a listen. Get it here.


Listen to "No-Hero-Days"
* * *

Juusho Futei Mushoku
JAKAJAAAAAN!!!!!
Released sometime in 2011

I love this band so much it hurts. That said, their follow-up to their 2010 debut isn't quite as mind-blowing, though it certainly has its moments. I really, really, really, really, really, really wish I could find the video they shot for "One Two Three"; it was insane. Alas, it appears to longer be on YouTube, perhaps owing to the fact that it wasn't, to be perfectly honest, exactly P.C. Or maybe I just lack the skills to find it again. (If you find it, for god's sake, please let me know.)

Get it here.


* * *
10cm
1.0
Released February 10, 2011

In truth? I don't love this album, but I think this band, which I'm pretty sure is a duo, from Korea, has potential. They can either go one of two ways: Slicker and less interesting, or more Jonathan Richman/Crowd Lu-like and awesome. Time, I suppose, will tell. I wouldn't have included it here except that (a) it does seem promising and (b) fairly different from most K-pop.

Get it here.


Listen to "King Star"
* * *

So, what do you think? And, more to the point, what are your own favorite albums of 2011? Post your list in the comments below, or, better yet, include a URL to your own blog, if you have one. (But, seriously, if your list includes Wilco or PJ Harvey, don't bother.)


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Shadia | Best of, vols. 1 & 2


Egyptian actress/singer Shadia, born Fatima Ahmad Kamal, acted and sang for more than 100 films before retiring in 1985. Though I've known of her for a long time, I've only ever managed to find a couple of later CDs, neither of which was (to my ears) particularly compelling. That is, until last week, when I found this two-volume set at the Nile Deli on Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens, about a 15-minute walk from my apartment.

The range included in these two volumes is impressive, beginning with the rather western-inflected "Khamsah Fe Setah" (listen to sample below), to more-or-less traditional sounding Arabic pop and classical. Though she has been recommended to me more than once by various bodega owners in Queens and Brooklyn, there is very little written about her in English, either online or in the two books on Egyptian cinema that I have, which seems odd, considering how long her career lasted--well into the 1980s. (She's still alive and living in Egypt and is, depending on which of the given birthdates I've found is correct, either 80 or 82 years old.)

Get both CDs in a single zip file here.


Listen to "Khamsah Fe Setah"

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hakim | Nazra

From an interview with Hakim earlier this year:

B.E.: So, you made the first album [Nazra]. You wanted to make something new with sha'bi music. What was new in the very beginning, in that first record?

Hakim: The music was very new, for sha'bi music. Instruments. All the instruments. Hamid El Shari's fingers, on the keyboard, this is new. The first time there is keyboard for sha'bi music. The first time electric bass for sha'bi music.

B.E.: ... You added those things ... And what happened after it was released?

Hakim: I don't know. The rain has come. In three days. Number one in the Middle East. Like a bird flu! Really. Really. Like bird flu. [LAUGHS]

This, Hakim's first album, changed Egyptian pop music forever. What's incredible is that, as great as Hakim has been over the years--and he's pretty obviously one of the true greats of pop music--this album (which I just played for the first time, finally having found it at the Nile Deli on Steinway Street this evening, after years of searching) still rocks as hard as it must have rocked back in 1992 when it was first released.



Listen to "El Bo'd Laa"

Get it all here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dava Gjergji | Jane me mua djemte e Kosoves

The first Albanian CD I ever bought, found at a little Albanian bodega on Church Avenue in Brooklyn. I know very little to nothing about Gjergji, other than the fact that she is wildly popular and has a magnificent voice. Since then, I've found a few other outlets for Albanian music in other areas of NYC, including a bodega and a CD shop across the street from that on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx and a small selection of CDs at the legendary Euro Market not far from where I live in Astoria. Someday, a sociology or anthropology scholar somewhere will write a dissertation in English on Albanian folk and pop that will be published by some academic press somewhere and then, maybe, I'll have a bit more context for this music.

Get it all here.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Plastic People of the Universe | Egon Bondy's Happy Hearts Club Banned

R.I.P. Vaclav Havel. In memory of the great Czech dissident writer/president, here's Prague-based Plastic People of the Universe's first studio album, recorded in the early 70s and finally released in 1978 in France (they were banned in the former Czechoslovakia until the Velvet Revolution of 1989). Heavily influenced by Frank Zappa (from whose song "Plastic People" they took their name) and the Velvet Underground, the PPU put the Prague in Prog Rock. Sorry. Seriously, if you're a psych music junkie you probably already have this or, if not, are perhaps peeing your pants as you realize that--finally!--here it is; you've found it.

Get it all here.


Listen to "Podivuhodny Mandarin"

Hasna | Hasna

It's nothing new for Arabic pop artists to draw from a variety of other musics from around the world. But on her first album, released in 2004, Moroccan superstar Hasna manages to slap memes and cliches from Latin, Punjabi and elsewhere into solidly pop soundscapes to create frisson and fission, rather than bland, seamless fusion.This is, in my not-terribly-humble opinion, one of the most thrilling records to come out of the Arabic pop world in the last decade. I found this gem a week or so ago at the Nile Deli on Steinway Street in Astoria, just a few steps down from the legendary Kabob Cafe.

Get it all here.

Listen to"Inta Il Habeeb"

Sunday, December 11, 2011

10 Best Albums of 2011

I've provided links to get most this music, all for free, and all from others' uploads. I encourage you in every case to seek out original CDs and actually buy them, whenever possible.

Marshmallow Kisses
Ciao!Baby

Released January 25, 2011
This is one of my top two CDs of the year, and possibly the album I listened to most after discovering it online a couple of months ago while sleuthing around about Hong Kong underground music. While the MKs are somewhat late to the Hong Kong twee party, their first two albums (their first being I Wonder Why My Favorite Boy Leaves Me an EP) have delivered far beyond my own expectations for the genre ... and I'm a huge fan of HK twee pioneers My Little Airport, Ketchup and the Pancakes.

I have no idea what sort of legs this terrific ray of sunshine would have outside of the Special Administrative Region, but it seems criminal that not even Pitchfork seems to know about it. Get it here.


Listen to "Jazz for Lovers; Solitude for Me"

* * *


Deerhoof
Deerhoof vs. Evil

Released January 25, 2011

I'm just as shocked as you are to see a U.S. band among my top 10, but along with Ciao!Baby, this was my most listened to CD all year. (My two top faves of the year were both released on January 25.) In another 2011 top 10 I read online, someone else described the album as "utilitarian," noting the lukewarm response it received from critics, who generally like the album but complain about it being unfocused, or even ADD. That actually makes it the perfect record for the kind of listener I am: completely bored with the simplicity of most western popular music but not terribly thrilled by most jazz or classical, either. It's what's driven me to track down every Albanian, Bangladeshi, Brazilian, Burmese, etc., etc. bodega in NYC, where I can get music I can really respond to on a visceral level. (Most western critics write about pop as if they respond to it on a purely socio-semiotic level; reading music more than than listening to it.)

Personally, I think this is the best album Deerhoof has ever made: sonically rich, forward-looking, utterly brilliant pop that sounds like it couldn't possibly have been made in this country. (File removed from link; sorry.)


Listen to "Qui Dorm, Només Somia"
* * *

Najwa Karam
Hal Leile ... Ma Fi Noum 
Released June 28, 2011
Holy crap, but I love Najwa Karam. I have--I'll admit it--zero objectivity when it comes to this woman; she could release an album sitting on the toilet reading Jewel poems translated into Arabic and I'm sure I'd buy it, listen to it and profess my undying love for it. That said, trust me when I tell you that this record totally and unimpeachably fucking rocks. Other than her voice getting consistently deeper and more powerful, little has changed since the Lebanese superstar began recording in the late 80s: nearly every record she puts out is either the dabke or the baladi equivalent of AC/DC, Rolling Stones or, closer to home, Hakim. And this one, quite honestly, is the most rockin' she's put out in a few years--it's like the Some Girls of her career.

Did I mention how hard she rocks? Or how hard this record rocks? If this wasn't such a recent purchase for me, it would probably be right up there with Deerhoof and Marshmallow Kisses in the "most-listened-to" category. I'm sure it'll earn that status soon enough. Get it here.


Listen to "Ya Baie"

* * *

Sōtaisei Riron
Correct Theory of Relativity

Released April 27, 2011

Sōtaisei Riron means "theory of relativity," so the title is kind of a play on the idea of a correct theory and the fact that most of this album is made up of remixes of the band's earlier work by Yoshihide Otomo, Spank Happy, Buffalo Daughter, Arto Lindsay, Cornelius and others. These aren't, however, remixes that sound like remixes--this album is completely unique, beautiful and totally perplexing. (Track three, for instance, is NOT a mistake; although it took me several tries before I was able to listen all the way through to the end and realize what, exactly, it is.) Perhaps appropriately, the first song, "Q/P," one of the two non-remixes on the album, opens with the words: "I. Don't know. Wha. Choowhachoo want ..."

The band has come a long way from its kind of Smiths-soundalike-with-female-lead-singer, and this album, though I bet it throws some fans off, is another great surge forward. Get it here.


Listen to "Q/P"
* * *

Pairs
Summer Sweat
Released September 30, 2011

I know next to nothing about this band, which I "discovered" via Music Has the Right to People a couple of weeks ago. From what I've been able to suss out, it's a male-female duo based in Shanghai; this is their second album; and this one was produced by Yanghai Song of Beijing punk superstars PK14. When my absolute favorite Chinese punk band, Subs, released the deeply disappointing Queen of Fucking Everything last year, followed this year by a less-than-thrilling Honeyed and Killed from the once fabulous Hedgehog, I just assumed that punk in China had shot its wad. Apparently, it's just moved south to Shanghai.

This record is stripped down, extremely raw and in some ways every bit as surprising as Wire's Pink Flag (songs range in length from the 52 second "Christmas" to the nearly five-minute long "My body is not a wonderland"). I suspect it'll convince at least a few of the more cynical of you out there that, in fact, "punk's not dead." Get it here.


Listen to "Cloud Nine"

* * *
Zee Avi
Ghostbird
Released August 23, 2011

This is the only record (other than the Deerhoof) that actually, so far as I know, has legs here in the U.S. In fact, you're more likely to know more about her than I do, as I only recently stumbled onto this record, wholly by accident, while scrolling through the music blog Chinese Music Collection. (Yes, I know she's Malaysian; thanks.) I don't know what her record was doing on that blog, but there it was, and I'm rather happy to have it, although I have no idea if I'll still be listening to it in another week or two; it's already starting to feel ickily like any number of earnest American or British neo-folkers whose work I have strenuously attempted to avoid for the last several years.

That said, I do love "Siboh Kitak Nangis" and "The Book of Morris Johnson," neither of which I can imagine getting tired of any time soon. Get it here.


Listen to "The Book of Morris Johnson"
* * *

Guitar Wolf
Spacebattleshiplove
Released, golly ... sometime in 2011

This is a self-released album, recorded in Tokyo in 2010 and intended to be sold during Guitar Wolf's 2011 Hoochie Coochie Space Men North American tour. It is so ear-shreddingly raw, so super em effin' rockin', words simply can't describe how much I love it. How is it that, while 80s Japan rockers Shonen Knife have gotten increasingly self-consciously cute, Guitar Wolf has just gotten more fucked-up and awesome? Don't get me wrong; I love both bands. But GW has no right to be this full of energy, this rockin', this far into their career. For one thing, it isn't fair to everyone else. For another, it's just confusing. 

Get it here.


Listen to "Hoochie Coochie Spaceman"
* * *

Da Bang
Bone Hug
Released October 1, 2011
I'm seriously running out of steam here, so don't expect a lot of vivid description at this point. And, honestly, we're starting to get into "uneven" territory now. But the "end of year" convention demands 10 albums so, so help me god, that's what I'll deliver. I don't love everything on this record, but I love the stuff that sounds like super-jacked up 80s synth pop, especially "No-Hero-Days," which is as good as anything Big Sea Queen Shark has recorded, and "冰心" (which I'm assuming is about the famous Chinese writer of the same name).

Definitely worth a listen. Get it here.


Listen to "No-Hero-Days"
* * *

Juusho Futei Mushoku
JAKAJAAAAAN!!!!!
Released sometime in 2011

I love this band so much it hurts. That said, their follow-up to their 2010 debut isn't quite as mind-blowing, though it certainly has its moments. I really, really, really, really, really, really wish I could find the video they shot for "One Two Three"; it was insane. Alas, it appears to longer be on YouTube, perhaps owing to the fact that it wasn't, to be perfectly honest, exactly P.C. Or maybe I just lack the skills to find it again. (If you find it, for god's sake, please let me know.)

Get it here.

* * *
10cm
1.0
Released February 10, 2011

In truth? I don't love this album, but I think this band, which I'm pretty sure is a duo, from Korea, has potential. They can either go one of two ways: Slicker and less interesting, or more Jonathan Richman/Crowd Lu-like and awesome. Time, I suppose, will tell. I wouldn't have included it here except that (a) it does seem promising and (b) fairly different from most K-pop.

Get it here.


Listen to "King Star"
* * *

So, what do you think? And, more to the point, what are your own favorite albums of 2011? Post your list in the comments below, or, better yet, include a URL to your own blog, if you have one. (But, seriously, if your list includes Wilco or PJ Harvey, don't bother.)


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Jelena Karleuša | JK Revolution

Get it here.

Serbian turbo folk star, fashion designer and former columnist Jelena Karleuša, or JK, is the Lady Gaga of the Balkan Peninsula--but with much better music. Hugely popular especially among the gay population, she won 2010 Gay Icon and LGBT Person of the Year Awards from the GayEcho Annual Gay Icon Awards and the Loud & Queer Annual Awards, respectively. Her music video for "Tihi Ubica" ("Silent Killer," included on this CD) was the most expensive ever made in the Balkans.

I found this completely delightful CD, having never before heard of the woman, about three hours ago in a corner of the locally famous Euro Market on 31st Street in Astoria. Twice as expensive as the smoked pork loin I also picked up, JK Revolution is proving to be more than twice as satisfying.


Listen to Karleuša's version of A.R. Rahman's "Mala"

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

NANCY AJRAM | 7


Get it here.

This jaw-droppingly great CD was released on September 6, 2010, the day I moved into my new digs here in Astoria, and I'm almost certain I picked it up on Steinway Street that month, or possibly that October. It's without question the most forward-looking Arabic pop album of the last decade or so and manages to be so without resorting to gimmicky crap like the digi-voice thing that every other Arabic pop star seemed to rely on over the last several years. 7 received a Murex D'or Award, the Lebanese equivalent to the Grammies, for Best Album in 2011.The video for "Fi Hagat," the 7th song on 7, has been viewed more than 22 million times, which gives you some idea of her popularity in the middle east. (Watch it here.) It's my least favorite song on the CD (I much prefer the song you can listen to below), but I'm obviously in the minority on that one.

Listen to "Lessa Gayya A'ollo"

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

MCHotDog | Wake Up

MC Hotdog

Listen to "Ma Chu"

Get it all here.

I found this absolute gem for a dollar on 86 Street in Brooklyn in a weird sort of store that had home goods and CDs. Apparently, the CDs were not selling so fabulously well, as everything was a buck a piece. Admittedly, I bought this CD solely for the joke value of "MC HotDog"; I expected nothing from it and was pleasantly blown away by the album when I finally popped the disc in to give it a listen.

I've since gotten several other CDs by MC HotDog and he has, to date, failed to disappoint.

Here's another song from the CD, an incredibly poppy-yet-foul-mouthed ode to Taiwan women:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

HONG KONG TWEE POP

Hong Kong Twee Pop


Listen to "Jazz For Lovers, Solitude For Me" by the Marshmallow Kisses


Listen to "Leo, are you still jumping out of windows in expensive clothes" by My Little Airport


Listen to "Men in Black" by 有耳非文

Get it all here.

A mix I recently made of especially fabulous twee pop from Hong Kong. Most of this was found at P-Tunes & Video, the store on Chrystie Street featured in the header image of this blog, though a few songs were found on CDs I picked up at other Hong Kong CD places on the Bowery and there's one or two things I found online.

It shocks me that there's no Pitchfork, Spin or Rolling Stone article out there on Hong Kong twee. The music is exceptional and hip, some if not all of it is available through western channels and, last but not least, the artists mostly sing in English. While I've found individual reviews of a CD here and there, there's just no 411 out there about the movement as a whole.

So, as you'd imagine, my own entry into it was purely random; I found this CD, which features a number of the artists you'll find in the present mix. I then spent the next two years combing Brooklyn's and Manhattan's Chinatowns, Flushing, Queens, and--yes, I'll admit it--the World Wide Web--searching for more.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Introducing ... BOLLYVAULT



Okay, I've gone and done it. Given that I've got somewhere between 500-1,000 Bollywood soundtracks from the 1940s-1960s, it seems a shame not to share them all with you. So, in addition to this blog, I've started another: Bollyvault.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Kohinoor & Aan soundtracks | Naushad

Aan

Listen to Lata Mangeshkar sing "Aaj Mere Man Mein Sakhi" from "Aan"

Get it all here.

A friend recently told me he'd just seen Abigail Child's "Mirror World," a short experimental film that I collaborated on with Abby several years ago. You can watch it here. My contribution was limited to (a) choosing the source film (or several Bollywood films, from which, Abby chose Mehboob Kahn's epic early color film "Aan") and (b) supplying the language, which was all "found"--literally just subtitles from various other Bollywood films.

That reminded me that I hadn't posted many Bollywood soundtracks recently, so I decided to post the soundtrack to the film that serves as the basis for "Mirror World." Like most Bollywood soundtracks on CD, it comes with two soundtracks; in this case, that of a much later film, "Kohinoor." The great Naushad Ali composed the music for both. Singers include Mohammad Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar and the insanely underrated Shamshad Begum.

I was interviewed about a month or two ago by a brilliant Anthropology grad student, Portia Sedon, who is writing her Master's thesis on music blogs. She interviewed a number of music bloggers, wanting to get at our motivation for blogging and our general philosophy, if any, behind what we do. I confessed at the time that, while I love doing the hodge-podge that is Bodega Pop--it's really, to me, a blog as much about New York City and the immigrants who make their home here, as it is about fabulous music--part of me would like, someday, to do a more focused blog on Bollywood soundtracks.

I have hundreds of them, mostly from the 50s-60s, the "golden age" of Hindi film. Poking around online this evening, I couldn't really find anything out there now that focuses on this incredible treasure trove. So ... I'm thinking.

I won't abandon Bodega Pop. But I'm thinking I might launch a second blog, dedicated to this music. It seems like it would serve a genuine function, providing listeners and scholars (*cough*) alike with a vault of some of the most incredible pop music ever made. [Wipes tear-of-inspiration from eye.] In order to justify it, though, I feel like I'd have to include full track listings, composer(s) names, lyricist names, singers, etc., etc.--in other words, make it data heavy, and well-organized, so people could actually use it as a reference.

What do you think? Should I do it? Would it be too much like having a second job? I'm on the fence; it might be a lot of work but I can also see how it'd be enormously gratifying. Also, I kind of already came up with a sort of cool name for it. Ergh. Ack! Gawhd. Can't ... decide ...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sezen Aksu | Allahaismarladik

Sezen Aksu

Listen to the title song.

Get it all here.

I was never a big fan of Turkish superstar Sezen Aksu--not, at least, until I discovered this CD at Uludag Video in south Brooklyn. This particular CD is a reprint of her first album, Allahaismarladik ("Farewell") from 1977 along with a few bonus singles from 1976-79.

Enormously popular and influential, often referred to as the Queen of Turkish Pop, Aksu has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide. Listening to this powerful early work, it's not hard to understand how that happened.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Drew Gardner & Various Artists | Flarf Orchestra



Listen to K. Silem Mohammad reading "Utah!" and other pieces.


Listen to Sharon Mesmer reading "A Unicorn Boner for Humanity"

Buy a copy of this crazy-ass CD here.

Most readers of this blog probably don't know this, given that most of you are in Europe or Asia and probably don't read much American poetry, but back in late 2000 I began writing a bunch of crazy, somewhat offensive poems that I began to call "flarf." In the spring of 2001, a half-dozen friends and I launched the Flarf email list, which ultimately grew to about 30-40 participants.

You can read a short history of the movement here and an article about us that appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal here.

Over the course of a decade or so, my friends and I put on a number of performances--in New York, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Maryland, Minnesota, Washington DC, and elsewhere--and at a few of these performances, flarf poet and jazz musician Drew Gardner put together impromptu Flarf Orchestras, made up of both local professional and completely amateur (or altogether non-) musicians, who provided music for some of the readings.

This CD, just released by DC flarf poet Rod Smith's Edge Books, features 10 of those live performances. For those curious about this blog author's "other life," I should warn you that I'm not one of the featured readers, though I do play a plastic blow-into-it sort of "keyboard" on one of the tracks. That said, the music is solid, often fabulous and, as is the case with the sample tracks above, offers an occasionally transcendent mix of language and music, the likes of which I'm guessing you've probably never heard.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cheb Mami | Douni El Bladi



Listen to the title track

Get it all here

This 1996 CD from early in the Prince of Rai's career completely blew my head off the first time I heard it after plucking it from the now-gone Princess Music electronics and Arabic music store on 5th Avenue in Brooklyn's Bay Ridge.

Shockingly, in 2009, the wildly popular singer was sentenced to five years in a French prison for allegedly forcing a former lover to undergo an abortion. (He was released on parole in March of this year.)

His last CD was released five years ago, in 2006; he says he plans to continue performing and recording, though I don't know whether he's begun to do so yet and/or how audiences will respond to him today.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chicken Rice | Lucky 7

Chicken Rice

Listen to "Spider Man"

Get the whole 7-track CD here.

Japan's love-affair with rockabilly is, of course legendary. Taiwan's? Not so much. This solidly rockin' record was my first indication that anyone else in Asia beyond Japan even cared about the sub-genre.

Found in P-Tunes & Video, the ultra-fabo DVD/CD store on Chrystie Street in Manhattan's Chinatown featured in the header image of this blog. This is the only CD this band ever produced, which is disappointing, considering how much it doesn't suck.

Posting this largely in anticipation of seeing the 5.6.7.8's at the Mercury Lounge later this month.

Here's a vid:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Rimitti | Hina ou Hina

Rimitti

Listen to "Skerna And Amara"

Get the whole thing here.

I found this in one of many now-closed Arabic music places in Bayridge, Brooklyn, maybe three years ago or so. Each of those no-longer-existent places had a section of rai music, but for some reason, this was the only Rimitti I was ever able to find there.

Cheikha Rimitti is, of course, legendary. A bit about her here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Uncreative Genius | Alt Japan

romanes

Listen to a mind-blowing remix of James Brown's "Super Bad"


Listen to a fabulous breakcore track


And if those two don't convince you, this will

Get all 50 songs here.

A collection of Japanese covers, remixes, pastiche, breakcore, retro and beyond, culled after reading Simon Reynolds' Retromania.

I was a huge fan of Simon Reynolds' Rip It Up And Start Again, a terrific critical and social history of British and American 80s post-punk. So when Retromania was published, I descended on a copy like the admitted culture vulture that I am.

It's a brilliant book. I think anyone interested in pop music, or more generally, in pop culture, should read it. But I didn't agree with all of it. And I definitely wasn't sympathetic to the book's almost non-existent coverage of non-Western pop. If you've read the book yourself, you can probably guess what chapter raised most of my hackles. That's right, Chapter 5: Turning Japanese: The Empire of Retro and the Hipster International. The one chapter that even acknowledges that other cultures produce pop--in this case, Japanese Shibuya-kei artists.

I'm hardly an expert on Japanese pop music. I've been there twice for very limited visits. I do have, however, a rather fabulous collection of CDs and MP3s of Japanese alt pop that, if nothing else, proves that this music is about something more than mere "consumer affluence." Also, it isn't particularly "Japanese" to mimic others in the creation of one's "own" pop culture. This is something the entire First World is adept at/reliant upon, especially the British, and especially 60s British pop artists.

I'm not going to launch a critique of the book--which you can (and should) read for yourself. Instead, I've put together a sonic riposte that, whether or not you've read Reynold's book, I'm pretty sure you'll love.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sabahat Akkiraz | Türkü Hayattır

SabahatAkkiraz


Listen to the first song on this CD

Get it all here.

Found at Uludag Video, 1922 Ave W, Brooklyn. Alas, they ceased selling imported CDs a couple of years ago, saying it cost more to import audio than they were able to make back. They're now (assuming they're still there) simply renting and selling pirated DVDs of Turkish movies.

A rather mind-blowing song by Akkiraz via YouTube: