Saturday, December 22, 2012

Kojima Mayumi | Me and My Monkey on the Moon

Listen to "セシルカットブルース" ("Cecil's Blues Cut")

Listen to "あの娘の彼" ("That Girl of His")

Get the 21-song retrospective aqui.

Well, lookee here: It's a fabulous collection of 1990s singles and rarities from one of our all-time favorite Shibuya-kei artists, Kojima Mayumi. I found this lovely item in Shibuya itself, almost certainly at one of the smaller indie used CD places dotting the Tokyo neighborhood's outskirts.

I'm currently cooling my heels with family in Corvallis, Oregon, where I'll be boxing up the "literally thousands of" (actually more like 20 or 30) Cambodian, Lao, Thai and Vietnamese CDs I found last week on Foster Road in Portland. If I find any of the covers online I'll go ahead and post while I'm here; but pretty much, if I do manage to post over the holidays, I'll be limiting myself to items like today's offering: Stuff I've already got on my computer but, for whatever reason, haven't yet shared with y'all yet.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sezen Aksu | Serçe

Listen to "Ölürsem Yazıktır" 

Get the 2-CD album here

Perhaps because Portland is constantly overcast and drizzly, Stumptowners compensate with high-end coffee and music to cut through the gloom--you can't hold out your arms and flap them frantically like a baby chick crazily anticipating  regurgitated worms without hitting someone in the face who has just walked out of a record store on their way to a coffee shop.

Seriously, I have never seen so many record stores in my life. Two days ago, at one of the biggest (Everyday Music, 1931 NE Sandy Boulevard) I found a used copy of Sezen Aksu's second album, Serçe (Sparrow), which I've been searching for for years. 

I'd write more about it, but my friend and Portland host Rodney is throwing me a cocktail party that is set to begin in--eek!--15 minutes. Meanwhile, you can read a bit about Aksu, and get her first record, here

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tuấn Anh | Rau Dắng Mọc Sau Hè

Listen to "Rap: Vo chong lam bieng"

Get it all here.

Greetings from Beervana! Forgive my absence these last several days, but I'm on the road for the next couple of weeks, currently in Portland, Oregon, where dear friends have been shuttling me from one Southeast Asian media store to the next. I was not aware of this before, but the City of Roses has quite a significant population of people from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam--and I've been grabbing up music from each of these places to restock the shelves of the old bodega.

I will not be posting too much while on the road, mainly because I lack a scanner. However, in cases where I'm able to find images of the covers online, I'll do my best to keep this humble blog active during the holidays.

I found today's offering by Tuấn Anh at a wee Vietnamese media store nestled in Fubonn Shopping Center off SE 82nd Ave, in what is more or less Bridgetown's current Chinatown. I know nothing about Anh other than that he's got a Facebook page and is apparently very popular among the Vietnamese living in this area. The rap song above (one of two on this album) is a duet with Family Love member Christian Le; most of the songs on this CD are not, however, rap, despite the groovy drop-out white letters on the pink field in the bottom right-hand area of the cover.

That's it for now--I've got a hot date with the biggest bookstore in the continental United States, where I'm hoping to flesh out the International Music section of my modest book collection.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gary Sullivan + Drew Swenhaugen | IPRC, Portland, OR

I'll be reading for The Switch with Drew Scott Swenhaugen, details below: 

Gary Sullivan + Drew Swenhaugen 
Saturday, December 15, 7:00 PM 
Independent Publishing Resource Center 
1001 SE Division Street Portland, OR 97202 

I'll be reading my translations of Ernst Herbeck's poetry. If you're around and can make it, stop by and introduce yourself!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Yellow Dogs | Iranian Post-Punk in Brooklyn

Photo by Taleen Dersdepanian

Listen to "New Century"

A piece I wrote about the Yellow Dogs, who perform this Thursday night at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, just went live at Open City. Their album, Upper Class Complexity, made Bodega Pop's 10 Best Albums of 2012.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Nass El Ghiwane | Ennehla Chama

Listen to "Jari"

Get it all here.

You find yourself among words: "people," "faces," "clothing," "teeth" and "hair." And words. And many words. The meaningless hegemony of the involuntary. The wet words touch your shoulders on each side. When words are there you care that they are there. Like them, you too want to get as far away as possible from where you were born. 

Words are like cushions to protect us from the knowledge of isolation. The screen here's very strange. When you look "into" it you often have the sensation that it is not a solid thing, protecting you from what's behind. Nothing, no words. We've never managed to get all the way away from them.

Words blow along the ground into his mouth as he sings.

Apologies to Paul Bowles.

[Don't miss Bodega Pop's 10 Best Albums of 2012.]

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

10 Best Albums of 2012

It's that time again: Holiday lights have filled the windows; radio stations are besotted with Christmas ditties; Fox News commentators have dusted off their War on Christmas toilet paper cozies; and dorky listmakers everywhere are starting to put together our Best Ofs for the year. 

But, can we be honest? What I offer are really not the best albums of 2012. For one thing, how could anyone in good conscience ever confer such a status on anything when there is no qualitative system we can all agree upon to measure "bestness"? When, in fact, "best" can--as we've seen happen this year--include sonic driftwood by the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Frank Ocean? It should be pretty ding-dong clear that the word means wildly different things to different people--anything from "I'm sympatico with this dude's politics" to "I guess the D'Angelo album is going to be delayed another year."

So ... awrighty, then. Here, in order of their release dates, are my personal favorite albums of the last more-or-less 12 months:

January, China
Purchase a copy of the CD ($15.60 US) or individual songs at 75 cents each, here.
I first came upon this album half a year ago while doing research for this mix; I somehow forgot I even had it until maybe two months ago. Since then, it's been the most re-listened-to album on my iPhone. This obnoxious review in Timeout Shanghai to the contrary, what separates Birdstriking from other Beijing two-chord wonders is their unflagging level of energy: they might be the Metz of mainland China. I don't care who invented this general sound--Sonic Youth, the Velvet Underground, a group of Neanderthals in prehistoric El Castillo--what ultimately matters is who is currently kicking the most ass with it. That would be these kids.


Listen to "Monkey Snake"

* * *


Sunday Sunset Airlines 
February, Korea
Buy a digital copy for $7 here.
One of the nicest things about doing a music blog is that people begin to come out of the woodwork, offering to turn you on to music from their own part(s) of the world that for, whatever reason, you've given short shrift to. Noisecat, who I "discovered" thanks to a guy currently based in Seoul going by the name of "Male Cousin" who put this mix of South Korean pop (as opposed to K-Pop) together for us last month, is a bit like one of those American bands from the 1990s who wishes they were British and it was the 60s (e.g., the Dandy Warhols or Brian Jones Massacre). They remind this listener a bit of 22Cats and Guitar Vader--my nerdy, hipster-hat-y, "look how much I know about shit" way of saying that I've quickly grown very, very fond of them. As, come to think of it, so might you. 


Listen to "Running" 

* * *

Mati Zundel 

Amazonica Gravitante 
March, Argentina 
Procure an MP3 version of this album for $8.99 here.
Anyone remember the Nortec Collective? Well, a similar movement is afoot in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where musicians like Zundel and others associated with Zizek (aka ZZK) Records are blending electronica with local forms, such as cumbia. A fitting thing to be happening in a city about which the great Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama once said "the epic and lyrical meet." 


Listen to "Bronca" 

* * *

The Yellow Dogs Upper Class Complexity  
May, USA/Iran 
Get the 4-song EP for $4 here.
My first experience of this four-piece was a live performance at the Brooklyn Bowl that I witnessed with my friend Carol in October that completely blew both of us away. After that, we became obsessed with the group: we downloaded all of their available music and watched No One Knows about Persian Cats, a film about the underground music scene in Tehran that the Yellow Dogs appeared in. I even begged my editor at Open City to let me write about them. A self-described dance-punk unit (we hear a bit of Gang of Four and Siouxie and the Banshees, yeah?), the Dogs are currently living in Brooklyn and working on a full-length collection of new songs that they hope to have ready some time next year.

Listen to "This City" 

* * *

Sharliza Jelita 
Strange Things 
June, UK/Singapore
Seize your own digital copy ($12.88) or autographed CD ($16.10) here.
This album is to pop music what Falai's Elementi is to dessert offerings: decadent, fruity and a bit self-consciously exotic. (That's Carmen Miranda in the lower right quadrant, btw.) This record--Jelita's first after having moved from Singapore to apparently still-swinging London--lays down one sugar-filled gnosh after another--from the one-two (fruit) punch of openers "No Go Pogo" and "Is That Your Underwear on the Floor?" to the heartbreakingly gorgeous "Breaks My Heart in Two" and curtain-closing title song. But what I love most about Strange Things is how it can feel simultaneously pop-pitch-perfect and amateurishly awkward ("I Want More Sun"? "Credit Crunch"?), as though, hey look!, one of your best friends made a record and you're sort of obligated to listen to it, but actually, whoa, wait: It totally doesn't suck.

Listen to "Breaks My Heart in Two"

* * *

Melhem Zein 
June, Lebanon
Preview and grab it (gratis) here.
Is it a failure of imagination or just brutally candid honesty that leads one to title their album after the year it was released? Maybe it's an avant garde or, like, jazz thing? Whatever. If the year 2012 was this album, we'd have all had us one of the greatest years of our entire freaking lives. Oh, and guess how I discovered this album. No, seriously. Give up? On Amtrak. That's right. I had my computer open and was listening to something--God knows what--when suddenly, freakily, someone's entire iTunes library was being shared with me. I didn't even know such a thing was possible (I'm not exactly young or tech-savvy). I remember incredulously scrolling through this person's vaults and randomly clicking on something from this album and, then, as the hard-driving music began pounding its way through my brain, my hands shaking with excitement, I quickly scribbled guy's name in my notebook. Within a few days I'd found my own copy at Alfra (25-23 Steinway Street), a few blocks from where I live.

Listen to "Taj Rassi" 

* * *

MC HotDog 
Ghetto Superstar 
June, Taiwan 
Want it? Go here and scroll all the way down.
MC HotDog, known for laying down some of the most vulgar lyrics over spliced-and-diced super-cheesy pop (from Glen Frey to Teresa Teng), released this year what your humble Bodega proprietor believes to be the second-best album of his career (first best would be this one). I picked up my copy at my favorite Manhattan go-to mom-n-pop, P-Tunes & Video, featured in the header image of this blog. How can you not love an album that includes a song titled "Party Like Hotdog"?

Listen to "Party Like Hotdog" 

* * *

Abou el Leef 
Super Leefa 
July, Egypt
You'll find it for nuthin' here.
Currently the fastest moving disc in the Bodega (click link above), owing to a shout-out from the fabulous Doug Schulkind at WFMU. I'm glad, because this really is the kind of record I want everyone to hear and know about, it's really just that good. Plus, how else can I bring it up "casually" in conversation? ("Yeah, it's like Abou el Leef says in 'Hatofrag Aleena' ...") Also-also? "Super Leefa." Now, that's a catch phrase just waiting to be super-memed into the collective conscience.

Listen to "Khaleek fe Elnoor" 

* * *

Pussy Riot
Kill the Sexist! 
July, Russia
Your copy is waiting right here.
The runaway success of PSY's "Gangnam Style" has apparently made Seoul a newly popular destination for American vacationers; can't say the same for for Moscow after Pussy Riot members were imprisoned and their videos banded in Russia. But these gals so quickly and thoroughly became an international cause célèbre, there's already a doc detailing their story premiering at Sundance next month. The music, which I actually do happen to like, is almost beside the point.

Listen to "Ubej Seksista (Kill the Sexist)" 

* * *

My Little Airport 

Lonely Friday
October, Hong Kong
Pick up yours for $14.49 at YesAsia
Another P-Tunes & Video find, this is the seventh album by my all-time favorite band from Hong Kong. When Nicole and 阿P started a decade ago, they sang almost exclusively in English; 10 years later, only three of the 17 songs on this album are in English, including the uber-charming "How Can You Fall in Love with a Guy Who Doesn't Know Gainsbourg?" If I were one half of a twee pop due (阿G, maybe?), my song would be "How Can You Fall in Love with a Guy Who Doesn't Know My Little Airport?"

Listen to "How Can You Fall in Love with a Guy Who Doesn't Know Gainsbourg?"

Monday, December 3, 2012

Nass el Ghiwane | 2000 CD

Listen to track 5 

Get it all here.

Even before discovering the real significance of these guys via Tim Abdellah's thrilling Moroccan Tape Stash,  I knew there was something special about this band on first listen. They just didn't sound quite like any other north African music I'd ever picked up--they were funkier, maybe even somehow more "knowing." I'm almost certain I found this in the Nile Deli on Steinway Street, but exactly when, I'm no longer sure. I do have a vague recollection of my thought process, which was something like: "Are those supposed to be guitar picks? This album must totally rock. ..."

Forgive me for the lack of song titles, but here is what looks like a track list on the CD itself:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Various Artists | Le Hip Hop

Listen to Lady Laistee's "Un peu de respect"

Get the whole thing here.

If artists--and by "artists" I mean innovators, people who invent shit, not people who simply "make art" for a living--had the same rights as corporations, there would have been no global hip-hop movement. In fact, most popular music around the world simply wouldn't exist. And, to add insult to injury, I'd have sued your ass for that flarf experiment your teacher forced you to do last semester in Creative Writing 101 (assuming Tristan Tzara's descendants didn't beat me to it).

So, there you'd be, broke from my (or Tzara's descendants) having sued you for every last dime you'd ever earned, and you'd have, like, nothing to listen to but, I dunno, some ancient recording by whoever was able to win the lawsuit over the invention of the blues. I mean, assuming Bach's descendants didn't sue him or her over the use of the I, IV, V, I chord progression. Which is an insane assumption not to make, because of course they'd have sued. So, actually, you'd be broke and listening to Bach.

Where am I going with this? Well, if you listened to the sample above, you can probably guess, right? I mean, she may be a lady and all, but just what is Laistee really giving us here? And why is it "le" hip hop and not just straight-up hip hop? Or, for that matter, how is this anything but some French chick karaoke-rapping over the single most identifiable moment in American R&B history: Aretha Franklin completely laying claim to Otis Redding's "Respect."

Okay, but wait. Listen to it again, and then I'll tell you what I really, really, really, really love about that track. First of all, how many of you think "Otis Redding" when you think of the song "Respect"? Raise your hands. No, come on, put your hands down and stop bullshitting me. You think Aretha. We all do. I personally have heard the Otis Redding version hundreds of times (he was a superhero to me for several years in the 1980s), maybe even more times than Aretha's version, and I still think Aretha.

Why? What did she add to Otis Redding's version, anyway? An extremely expressive voice? Is Otis any less expressive? No. What Aretha added was (a) "R-e-s-p-e-c-t, find out what it means to me" and (b) "sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me ..."--in other words, a level of playground-level taunt and faddish slang that the original didn't have. (When I hear "sock it to me," I think of the single most dated comedy show to have ever run on American television: "Laugh-In.")  And yet ... it totally rawqs, even today. 

What does Lady Laistee bring to the R-e-s-p-e-c-Table? (Sorry, it was there.) Born Aline in 1972 in Guadaloupe, an Island in the Caribbean that is legally still France, Lady Laistee, also known as The Tarantula, grew up in  France métropolitaine, France's fancypants way of saying "the mainland." Her first album, Black Mama, which included a song in tribute to her murdered brother and the Paris suburbs, was released in 1999; her second, Hip Hop Therapy, which includes a slightly rougher version of "Respect," came out in 2002. The next year--when she was just 31 years old--she had a stroke and spent the next year or so rehabilitating. She released a third album, Second Souffle (Second Wind) in 2005. 

But none of that really has to do with why I love Laistee's track--although it does help me to, uh, respect her. Why do I love this track so much? Well, for one thing, every song--and I mean every single song ever written and recorded--has a shelf life. I don't mean a cultural shelf life, although that's also the case, sure. I mean with any particular listener. You know what I mean? Maybe you can spin The Beatles' "Hey Jude" like 1,273 times before you just can't hear it again. And James Brown's "Hot Pants" 987 times. And those numbers differ depending on the song and the listener. Right?

So, "Respect" has, like--it's got to have, for most listeners, one of the longest spin-lives of any song ever recorded. I couldn't even ballpark the number of times I've heard it. But, yeah, there was a point there that I reached when, like, both the Otis and the Aretha versions--I couldn't hear them anymore. I could be in a room with them playing, but I wasn't listening. I couldn't listen. Not that it was painful or I hated it now or something. I literally physically couldn't listen to it. That part of me didn't work anymore. Because, whatever it is that pop music does to our bodies (something akin to what the alien in "Alien" does, but far less destructive, if no less invasive), it's like the threads are being worn or stripped down with use. And at some point, if you listen to something that one time too many, the grooves have completely vanished.

And that, my friend, is where I was at with "Respect," before I heard Lady Laistee's version, which opens this 2004 French rap compilation I found at a Russian or Ukrainian CD store on 108 Street in Corona late last summer. 

And that, too, is why artists should never, ever behave like corporations, should never keep someone from ripping off their shit. Because, I don't care what it is that they're ripping off--a guitar lick, an idea for an art movement, a particular film-editing grammar, a genre of music--it's only through someone else's use of it that it continues, in any real way, to stay alive. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hakim | Greatest Hits

Listen to "Wala Waled"

Pick it up here.

As snow pours down into New York, thousands of people remain without power--to say nothing of those who have lost their homes altogether. (The fate of more than one of my co-workers.) So it seems almost criminal to pull down this uber-celebratory disc of polycarbonate plastic to rip for you all this evening. But, then, we do have something to celebrate tonight: The United States seems to be on the verge of slowly--key words "verge" and "slowly"--shifting a bit to the left. 

Legalized marijuana in Colorado and Washington. Same-sex marriage in Maryland and Maine and probably Washington? (I've sort of lost track of that.) Tammy Baldwin elected as first openly gay senator in Wisconsin. More women in the house of reps now than ever before. That whole Todd Akin thing shut down by Claire McCaskill in Mizz freakin' Zouri while in Indiana, God's Will intending for Richard Mourdock's political career to get fucked. Finally, President Obama reelected, despite having pissed off just about as many liberals over the last four years as he has conservatives.

Yes, I know that close to half of the voting population voted for that other guy. And that celebrating your gay marriage by getting stoned is not legal in most states--or federally, for that matter. And that Michele Bachmann, a woman who believes that slavery was eradicated by our founding fathers, that getting vaccinated for HPV leads to mental retardation, and that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the U.S. government, actually held her house seat in Minnesota. (Having lived in Minneapolis-St. Paul for six years in the 1990s, I am extremely disappointed with my former state mates.)

But, still. As even conservative poll aggregation enthusiast Dick "I Goofed!" Morris seems to be realizing, the United States is a multi-culture, not a mono-culture. And we sort of showed that, kinda sorta, via last night's elections. 

So, in celebration: Could there be anything more life-affirming, more get-you-up-off-your-ass-and-dancin', than Hakim? I found this best-of album at the Nile Deli on Steinway Street a couple of days after Sandy had passed and picked it up to lift my spirits. A few days after that, I offer it to you, for yours.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

22Cats | 10 Years of 22Cats

Listen to "Grunge Love"

Get it all here.

It's too early for a Best of 2012 post, but not too early, I hope, to begin upping some of my favorite records of the year. There are 10 albums at the top of my list, one of which is this freebie from one of Hong Kong's most beloved alt bands, 22Cats--the others will follow soon.

I'm not going to mince words: I've already checked out Pitchfork and Spin's 2012 Best Ofs, and I have to say, I don't care how hard you foist Grizzly Bears, Frank Ocean, Swans and other pretentious & immediately forgettable U.S./U.K. crap in my face, you're never, not in a million billion years, ever going to convince me that killing myself in the most horrifically painful way imaginable is not the more desirable alternative to resigning myself to living in a world where people honestly consider it listenable.

Fortunately, I don't have to resign myself to living in that world. I can live right here in the real world, where albums like this one exist. And, guess what? You can live there, too.

22Cats don't have so much as an English-language Wikipedia page, but they've been rocking, if this compilation is any indication, for the last decade--and rocking harder than your average cats. I got this free download through a link on Facebook posted by the band's label, Harbour Records. I guess the idea is that, once you listen to this comp, you'll want to buy their actual albums. Considering that: (a) no one in the mainstream music media has nor ever will write about them; and (b) they will not likely therefore ever be asked (and paid) to play anywhere in the U.S., it's the only way you're ever going to hear more by them.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Yui Yatyoe | Cha Rot Mai Nia

Listen to "สองแสนแหวนวง"

Get it all here.

In his 1995 book Ocean of Sound, David Toop quotes Jimi Hendrix talking to Melody Maker during the last year of his life on the possibilities of expanded musical textures:

"I don't mean three harps and fourteen violins ... I mean a big band full of competent musicians I can conduct and write for. And with the music we will paint pictures of earth and space, so that the listener can be taken somewhere." 

Toop then describes how two of Hendrix's posthumous records, Crash Landing and Midnight Lightning, were assembled after his death, basically using a cut-and-paste sort of method to pull together unfinished tracks, speeding up or slowing down things to match keys and adding new parts where, say, a guitar track abruptly ended with no clue as to where it might have gone.

Reading this passage, one comes away with a sense of the real power of the studio, one that almost seems to contradict how the studio is so often used today, especially by the southeast Asian music industry. 

What we have here tonight is an example of what music blogger and Thai pop music cataloger Peter Doolan calls "guitar & keyboard workstation-driven luk thung." Listening to the sample above, it's difficult to tell what's "live" and what's "canned": the drums, for instance, clearly falling into the latter category; the guitar, voice and possibly the horns falling into the former. "Workstation-driven" seems like the perfect descriptor: these albums are cranked out, one after the other--this is, in fact, CD number 16 (Peter posted number 3 from what I believe is this same series on his great Monrakplengthai blog, here). God only knows how many total CDs there are.

But does this factory-output approach to pop music make it any less fabulous than something more "authentic"? Does it, in fact, make this music any less "authentic"? 

I would say no. The studio is a factory, no matter who's in it or how it's being used; I was blown away watching David Byrne and St. Vincent perform live on the Colbert Report the other night, so much so that I immediately went and downloaded the album, Love This Giant, that they were promoting. And it just didn't have the same oomph as their live performance. It sounded canned. And, in that case, it wasn't because they were substituting a drum machine for drums, or a synthesizer for horns. It just felt "cold" in comparison to the live performance.

I've always argued that there is nothing "authentic" about popular music. That authenticity is not a quality or attribute in any way relevant to the art form. But there is one way in which popular music can be said to be authentic, for, in order to become truly popular, it must offer an "authentic" reflection, simultaneously, of the dreams and real lives of those who consume it--the soundscape version of its listeners' life- and dreamscape. 

Thanks to the aforementioned Peter Doolan for transliterating this album and identifying the singer. The title, by the way, translates as "I Will Survive," at least according to Google's translation feature ...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Kazim al Saher | Fi Madrasat al Hob

Listen to "Sallami"

Get it all here.

After a bike ride this afternoon from Astoria to Woodside and back, I switched on the news, not having seen it in a couple of days. The footage was sobering, to say the least. Miles and miles of destroyed beaches, property, downed trees, flooding--and image after image of someone surveying their former house or neighborhood and sobbing. The destruction and cost, including loss of life, of Hurricane Sandy is enormous and really almost unimaginable. 

But then I got to thinking. This is the sort of destruction, on a much grander scale, that this country inflicted on Iraq from 2003 through the end of last year. In fact, the cost of that invasion and occupation, in terms of dollars and, especially, in terms of human life and property, utterly dwarfs what we're living through and/or watching on the news right now. 

Kazem al Saher, born in Mosul, Iraq, in the late 1950s, is one of the greatest composers in Arabic music history, even if not everything he does will appeal to everyone. Not just because his work embodies the idea of art in the era of globalization, but because so much of what he does is both innovative and devastatingly expressive. Take, for example, the sample track above. 

Currently living in Cairo, Egypt, al Saher left Iraq for Jordan in 1991 during the first Gulf War. From there he moved to Lebanon before finally settling in the City of a Thousand Minarets. Released in 1997, Fi Madrasat al Hob ("In the School of Love") was his 10th album. (Read more about al Saher and get his 9th album here.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

JL Murat | Lilith

Listen to "Le Cri du Papillon" from disc 1

Listen to "Emotion" from disc 2

Get both discs here.

Born Jean-Louis Bergheaud in 1952, JL Murat spent much of his youth with his grandparents in Murat-le-Quaire, the village in Auvergne that presumably inspired his pseudonym. Though he began playing music with his father at an early age, he didn't record his first album until 1981, when he was nearly 30, and waited to go on his first real tour a dozen years later, then in his early 40s. When this double CD was recorded in 2003, he was 51; by the time I discovered it for 25 cents at the Alliance Francaise booth at Bastille Day on 60th Street in Manhattan this summer, he was 60.

According to one English-language webpage about Murat's life and work, this double album is his tribute to Neil Young. I totally don't hear it. What I hear is Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen. And, in some of the longer, complexly orchestrated pieces, like "Se Mettre Aux Anges," Scott Walker.

This record is all over the map in a way that continues to surprise, thrill and delight me. Oh, god, wait--did someone hit me over the head and now I'm writing music reviews for Time magazine or something? Whatever. The samples above, though I enjoy each of them, don't really do the full breadth of this record justice. If you're stuck indoors like me post-Sandy, take some of the time you've got on your hands and give it a listen ...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ceza | Med-Cezir

Listen to "Meclis-I Ala"

Get it all here

Please, mighty Allah, please grant me this opportunity to add to the hundred and fifty billion ga-thousandy x infinity FB, Twitter and blog posts filling the airwaves this evening about FRANKENSTORM SANDY! Please.

I promise to work it in subtly: "Well, here I am after hours in the ol' Bodega, just hangin' out and restackin' the Goya shelf as, heh, it's gonna be a looooong night ahead as it looks like the New York City subway system has been shut down as of 7:00 p.m. what with of the impending--"

Can we talk? First of all, I'm sick of hearing about the storm. (Admittedly, I made the mistake of switching on NY1 earlier this evening--my bad.) Secondly, okay: like, I discovered that I hadn't yet upped this really divine album by Ceza, Turkey's Número un rapero (de Turquía)? And I listened to it, really for the second time since I bought it at Uludag Video in south Brooklyn eons ago, and I just thought it was beautiful and that you should have it. 

It's very different from Rapstar, which I added to the shelves here two-and-a-half years ago. Ceza's rapping style is the same: a slightly-to-very-much sped up version of Eminem. But the use of music and samples is very different, less about creating a jangly, perforated soundscape for the rapper to weave and bob through than it is a kind of lush, at times celestial, tapestry against which the rapper "throws" his voice (oh, shit, I forgot that that word also has to do with ventriloquism) like Jackson Pollock throwin' down alkyds, acrylics, vinyl-acrylics, polyurethanes, polyesters, melamine resins, epoxy, and oil.

Get beyond the Aerosmith loop in the sample above, and you'll see what I mean. Hope you enjoy it. And, yeah, sorry; all out of peanut butter, water and candles.