Jukeboxparables

Out.com ‘gayest albums of all-time’

Posted in Music, Random by jukeboxparables on March 29, 2009

A panel of ‘experts’ including Boy George, Rufus Wainwright, Cyndi Lauper and Darren Hayes amongst a list of others recently voted in Out.com’s Top 100 ‘gayest albums of all time’ I’m quite bemused by that but let’s go with it.

Coming in at number #1? David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. An interesting choice. I remember reading an article on Bowie which had a few quotes about his sexual orientation back then. He’s apparently since made comment’s saying he regrets his earlier sentiments. Think of that what you will I guess. The article does some it up pretty well though;

It’s ironic that an album with an opener forecasting Earth’s expiration and a closer tackling celebrity excess and self-destruction remains one of the most liberating, uplifting records of all time — about as ironic as a straight man topping this list. Robust, swaggering anthems “Ziggy Stardust” and “Suffragette City” prove this space odyssey is far from morbid or apocalyptic, yet it is on standouts like the languid, gender-flirting “Lady Stardust” and brash come-on “Moonage Daydream” — in which the singer asks for a raygun to be placed to his head with almost masochistic sexual glee — that Ziggy and his Spiders really shine. When in the grand finale, “Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide,” Bowie wails “Oh no love! You’re not alone!” over a sea of theatrical strings, you know he was singing for every exiled, dejected, sexually confused young kid who longed for a world of greater possibilities.

Other notables? Coming in at #2 was The Smiths – (self titled) And again in at #6 with The Queen Is Dead. The Velvet Underground & Nico came in at #12 whilst Lou Reed – Transformer was #17.

So what exactly is implied if you happen to own all of those aforementioned great albums? haha.

Advertisements

Review: The Gaslight Anthem – Sink or Swim

Posted in Music, Review by jukeboxparables on March 27, 2009

Picture sociopolitical old-new punk Canadian band Against Me! only with Bruce Springsteen on vocals. What do you get? If you said The Gaslight Anthem, your wrong that would be pigeonholing. But you are close. I felt compelled to review their debut 2007 album entitled “Sink or Swim” simply because it’s been on repeat in my car, at home and on the portable music player and more importantly I think I’ve discovered what makes it tick.

Besides it being on repeat, the other reason It’s being mentioned here is because I’ve never been put-off more by an album upon first listen and then subsequently caved to its sentiments upon repeated listens. The Gaslight Anthem hail from New Brunswick, NJ, USA and lead singer Brian Fallon’s vocals growl with working-man like intent. I initially took issue with this, It’s easy to be flippant with newer bands in our day and age and question their sentiments. If you are one for flippancy you’d probably find yourself (initially) filing this band under done-to-death mainstream rock. You might even group them with certain late 90’s group’s who are utterly gag inducing. But wait, you’d be wrong.

You’d be wrong because what The Gaslight Anthem do best is make it genuine. As already mentioned my first listen to Sink or Swim left me wincing at certain quips and turn of phrase. I was wincing because bands from the late 90’s who shall remain un-named ruined it for everyone. Swathes of Southern-baritone-growl mainstream rock made open and fragile lyrical prose cliche and it’s been passe ever since. I was so sure a few years ago that such song writing would never be credible again.

Sink or Swim has possibly turned this all around on its own. Which isn’t to say The Gaslight Anthem’s writing is anything like that, these definitely aren’t cheap throw-away lines and the actual lyrics tell stories with a Dylan-esque trail of thought rather than being in the style of 3minute pop songs. I think the key to the songs are; what actually separates them from the straight-up Mainstream Rock tag is liberal use of Punk rhythms and change ups yet you can’t classify them as a Punk band.

This use of rhythm can be put down to genuine local influence; the New Brunswick underground or “basement” Punk scene which has given birth to some impressive acts over the years. The band themselves have described their sound as “Bruce Springsteen singing for a Cure cover band, with a tinge more aggression.” I’m not sure about the Cure cover band citing. But the Boss (Bruce Springsteen) is of course from New Jersey, so there again; genuine local influence.

When you realise The Gaslight Anthem are basically a proverbial sponge of The Hub City absorbing all that surrounds them and they really don’t give a shit what style that happens to be, you start to like them more. It’s that blend of Punk sentiment over traditional topical song writing that makes you remember their songs. They’re signed to Indie Label SideOneDummy But band motives aside let’s get onto the music as that’s what matters.

Sink or Swim kicks off with opening track “Boomboxes And Dictionaries” and is a quick indication of song writing approach. Slightly left-of-center lyrically as are most of the songs on the album. Liberal use of lyrics to tell the story rather than falling over themselves desperately to get back to that catchy chorus.

And if you’re scared of the future tonight, we’ll just take it each hour one at a time.
It’s a pretty good night for a drive, so dry up those eyes, dry up those eyes.
Because the radio will still play loud, songs that we heard as our guards came down.
Like in the summertime when we first met, I’ll never forget, don’t you forget, these nights are still ours.

Kicking off with as sing along moment that also gets the blood flowing is a good thing. But then they go one better with “I Could’a Been A Contender” Which song has the better chorus I’ll let you decide. Either way you’ll find yourself coming back to these two tracks more often then not.

There’s a dirty wind blowing, there’s a storm front coming
There’s an S.O.S. on the seas tonight
Steady now, steady now, soldier hold fast now
It’s heads or tails on heart attacks and broken dreams tonight

The pace continues throughout the first half of the album. Yes this is your favourite new driving album. Just watch those speed limits…

Things take a turn on “The Navesink Banks” where the Acoustic guitar is brought out for a soft yet resilient reminisce of the past which probably pays some ode to Tom Waits. A nice break in the pacing just at the right time.

“I’da Called You Woody, Joe” is apparently a track about Joe Strummer no less or the story of Brian’s first listen to The Clash presumably. This song resonates if your a Strummer fan or perhaps if you’ve seen The Future Is Unwritten particularly one of the later scenes where Joe is handing out flyers to one of his solo shows to people on the street who ignore him.

“Angry Johnny And The Radio” has one hell of a rolling breakdown that makes it one of the highlights of the back end of the album. Though for me the last track is one of particular note. “Red At Night” is a folk/blues inspired Acoustic come-down of sorts. Featuring a nice lazy harmonica channeling Bob Dylan perhaps? It wraps up the album nicely and nails home your sentiments; Sink or Swim is an album worth the time not only for its sing-a-long driving songs but for it’s vivid projections and tales of life in New Brunswick.

Rating: 7.7/10

Tracklist:

1. “Boomboxes and Dictionaries” – 3:11
2. “I Coulda Been a Contender” – 3:22
3. “Wooderson” – 2:11
4. “We Came to Dance” – 3:34
5. “1930” – 3:48
6. “The Navesink Banks” – 2:48
7. “Red in the Morning” – 2:51
8. “I’da Called You Woody, Joe” – 3:21
9. “Angry Johnny and the Radio” – 3:00
10. “Drive” – 2:55
11. “We’re Getting a Divorce, You Keep the Diner” – 3:11
12. “Red at Night” – 3:07

The Gaslight Anthem
Sink Or Swim
Released: 2007
Label: SideOneDummy / XOXO Records

Young at heart / Old in mind?

Posted in Random by jukeboxparables on March 25, 2009

I came to a small realisation yesterday. After posting an ad for new band members I promptly received two rather interesting replies. The ad itself wasn’t over the top, it was short and to the point and attempted to encompass the range of music my band and I are hoping to make.

The first reply came from a rather eloquent guy whose been in heaps of bands since the 80’s all of which seemed rad, the only problem being a rather large age gap (It’s only a problem because it leads to a divide in interest) The second reply was much the same. Both people also had interesting anecdotes to share about some of the bands I’d mentioned.

One was adamant that after seeing both Joy Division and Gang of Four live that GoF were all over them in the live show performance department. This was pretty amazing to hear. Imagine having seen both these bands in their original era/prime?

I thought that email was something until the next person; I asked if he was experienced/been around/in bands; he stated he is originally from the UK and had seen Joy Division and met Ian Curtis back stage after one of their shows.

Both guys we’re in their 40’s from what I can gather. And as yet we’ve received no other replies. This lead me to question if I’ve been born in the right era…. and why oh why no one (except my band mates) and certain friends share a love for good music. Or what we perceive as good music. Are we 40yr olds trapped in 20-somethings’ bodies!?

Then again, my love of music isn’t confined to one certain era/decade it spans most of them but It’s a bit of a mind bend when you realise most of the people out there who are into the same music as you are twice your age or more.

But It’s too easy to say the best music is classic stuff and not stuff happening right now. Because in a sense we pick and choose the best music from certain time periods and completely disregard all the crap that existed back then. This is why, now and always music from ‘back in the day’ will trump ‘present day’ movements. It’s only with retrospect that the bands of today will be rated as having stood the test of time.

Blender gallery – rockarchive 10th anniversary exhibit

Posted in Music, Oldschool/Classic Things, Photography by jukeboxparables on March 23, 2009

cobainnap

On Saturday I made a date with Paddington’s Blender gallery because they are hosting rockarchive’s collection of UK based limited music related photography spanning many decades. Hung prints included; David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Nirvana, Johnny Cash, The Beatles, Blondie, The Clash, Sex Pistols, Siouxsie Sioux and many many more. All of the prints are limited releases available for purchase, ouch did I come close. Particular shots of Cobain and Sioux we’re amongst highlights.

It’s the first time the collection is running in Australia, it being based in the UK, It features dozens of portfolios of some of the worlds best music photographers and runs from Friday 20th March until Tuesday 21st April 2009 you can get all the info at either rockarchives website or the Blender gallery.

I was blown away by more than a few of the shots and more importantly the story behind them. I’ve borrowed the photo above as a means to get you all out there to take a look. If I’m infringing copyright please let me know.

I chose that shot because I absolutely love the story behind it. It was taken by and is the copyright of Ed Sirrs and the story behind it reads; The date was 20 Aug 1991.

“The support band had been ignored by an almost empty house, but the place is suddenly capacity rammed and heaving for headliners Sonic Youth. Four feet away from the side of the little stage, oblivious to the monumental racket, the support band’s singer/guitarist (Kurt Cobain) catches a few zzzs on a narrow wooden bench.”

That’s a moment in time. One of my all time favourite bands Nirvana did indeed tour/support Sonic Youth (another of my favourites) during the explosion of the Seattle sound in the late 80’s early 90’s. This photo of Kurt makes him look like a regular guy taking a nap, a roady perhaps? (though how you could fall asleep during the aural assault that is Sonic Youth, I don’t know) a few months on to a year later Nirvana became the biggest band in the world. 3 years later the combined effects of childhood scoliosis / undiagnosed stomach cramps -> various drug addictions / unrelenting & unwanted international media pressure, perhaps all combined to cause Kurt to commit suicide. But here he’s just a regular guy having a nap.

EDIT:: looky what I found. Yes it’s from the same show!

Sonic Youth – Happiness is a warm gun… Vinyl!

Posted in Music, Oldschool/Classic Things by jukeboxparables on March 23, 2009

I’ve been meaning to start a real vinyl collection for the longest while, It’s always been on the back burner because everything and anything else has kept me occupied instead. But yesterday I was in Repressed records in Newtown watching a friends band Royal Headache play and simply could not leave their vinyl collection alone.

Especially this 1991 Bootleg LP out of Germany entitled “Happiness is a warm gun…” It’s a Sonic Youth compilation of sorts and the track list is quite amazing;

1. Personality Crisis
2. Dirty Boots (demo)
3. Is It My Body
4. Flower (Anti Fuckword Radio Edit)
5. I Wanna Be Your Dog (live)
6. Song For Karen (live) [Tunic]
7. Computer Age
8. Burning Farm
9. Gum
10. Electric Pen
11. Disappearer (demo)
12. That’s All I Know (Right Now)
13. White Cross
14. Sister (live) [Schizophrenia]
15. Rewolf (Special Natas Mix)
16. It’s An Interview
17. My Friend Goo (live)
18. Cinderella’s Big Score (live)

* 1. from Sassy magazine promo 7″
* 2. from Sassy magazine promo 7″
* 3. from Sub Pop Singles Club 2×7″
* 4. from Flower 7″
* 5. live 6/4/87 London, England w/ Iggy Pop on vox (same as Screaming Fields)
* 6. live 9/17/90 Hamburg, Germany @ Docks
* 7. from The Bridge compilation
* 8. from Every Band Has A Shonen Knife… compilation
* 9. from Mirror/Dash 7″
* 10. from Mirror/Dash 7″
* 11. from Disappearer single
* 12. from Disappearer single
* 13. from NME’s Hat Trick 7″
* 14. live 6/4/87 London, England (same as Screaming Fields)
* 15. from Flower 7″
* 16. from 1990 promotional flexi interview 7″
* 17. live 9/17/90 Hamburg, Germany @ Docks
* 18. live 9/17/90 Hamburg, Germany @ Docks

Let the vinyl collecting begin. I suppose I should now dish out heaps of cash for a good system too. Oh the woes of liking oldschool things. This Sonic Youth LP is definitely worth it though. Bootleg goodness with songs off Daydream Nation, Goo and others and a track featuring Iggy Pop on vocals. All on a Blue Vinyl 12″ How could I not get this?

The Ramones – Cartoons

Posted in Music, Random by jukeboxparables on March 20, 2009

Ok so I stumbled on some epic Ramones cartoons and especially a site called ladroncomix Here’s a collection of the artists work as well as a few others found on the net.

01

02

03

04

05

This last one is not by ladroncomix.

The Ramones! – Coming to Australia… Err?

Posted in Music by jukeboxparables on March 20, 2009

I’m so torn over this. I don’t know what to do. Marky Ramone, drummer of 3part deceased band the Ramones is bringing his current band Blitzkrieg! on tour to Australia. They’re fronted by Michale Graves (ex-Misfits) and wait for it… they’re going to be playing Ramones songs.

Frankly this can’t be good. It’d be like Dave Grohl reforming Nirvana with…. Axl Rose on vocals. I’m just wondering how much of a butcher job it’s going to be. Do I dare consider going to see the sole surviving member of the Ramones and jump around to essentially what is a Ramones cover band?

08 April The Corner Hotel VIC
09 April Manning Bar – Sydney University NSW
11 April Club Capitol WA
13 April Governor Hindmarsh Hotel SA
14 April Step Inn QLD

I need to think long and hard about this. I suppose it could be worth a look see. It might be a fun night out and they might actually do a good job / pay tribute to them in the right way. Then again It could be like watching a car crash in slow motion.

I suppose either way there’s some pay-off. Hmmmm the Ramones are one of my favourite bands mainly because sometimes its great to take a break from deep layered music and put on something that’s fun and lighthearted. Considered one of the classic 3 original punk bands of the original punk era, they have since been tagged with the ‘simple 3-chord progression fast and loud’ approach to song writing. I actually see a bit more to them, I find myself comparing their song writing to classic 50’s and 60’s Pop/Rock’n’Roll/Swing. You can hear it in the rhythms and some of the vocal melodies and ranges. For example listen to Joey doing his thing in the following clip; Of course you have to be able to hear that through the actual aforementioned short-fast-loud 3chord simple song change-ups! More on this sometime soon.

EDIT:: I should probably state Tommy is of course still alive. Marky did spend most time at the helm of the sticks though.

ramones-paredb

ramones460

Bloc Party / Klaxons news.

Posted in Music by jukeboxparables on March 20, 2009

So back in 2005 Bloc Party’s debut album Silent Alarm was a breath of fresh air from the UK music scene. It was pretty surprising a few months later to find an entire remix of the album in stores and what’s more it was one hell of an album to boot. It even started various fan-boy debates on the internets about if Silent Alarm Remixed was actually a better album than the original. Without opening that can of worms again I’ve gotta say It is actually open to debate.

So anyway, It’s been announced that their most recent and 3rd album Intimacy is getting the same treatment. That is; an entire remix will be released May 11, including a vinyl version! Their 3rd LP took awhile to grow on me. I immediately noticed the goodness of tracks such as Talons and Biko but the opening two threw me off and It’s taken me awhile to digest its premise. A remix should be equally interesting. The first video of a remix track is on their website. Will it out-do Silent Alarm remixed? I doubt it. The first track (Signs) sounds good though, very dance-electronic though. The great thing about Silent Alarm remixed was it didn’t go for that all out dance feel, it had its odd subtle moments also. Oh is it just me or do Bloc Party have the worst music videos ever?

Now on to Klaxons news. NME hype a lot of bands especially their native UK bands and the Klaxons debut album Myths of the Near Future in 2006 was no stranger to this, but for a change it actually stood up to that Hype. More-so I saw these lads at the Enmore Theatre on that tour and besides me and a friends deer-in-the-headlights bewilderment at the opening tracks laser/neon light show inducing what seemed to be a 16/17yr-old fangirl “nu-rave” dance party in the mosh. They were tight and it was a good show.

So for those reasons I’m actually looking forward to their followup LP which is/was? due this year although it seems they’ve succumb to major-label woes. Their label Universal has told them to re-record the album! Jamie Reynolds; “Because we’ve made a really dense, psychedelic record. We’ve made a really heavy record and it isn’t the right thing for us, I understand and know that. First and foremost we’re a pop band. I haven’t thought about that for a long time, and now it’s in the forefront of my mind.”

Record labels should butt the hell out and let artists do what they want. Re-recording an album probably for the sole reason of making it more accessible to aforementioned 16/17yr old dance party kiddies is not justification with the bands best interests in mind. Klaxons should probably seek out a better deal.

But we’ll know the outcome of their followup in due time. Here’s to hoping they don’t suffer the second album slump (ala the Arctic Monkeys)

Klaxons

blocparty-live1

Atheist bus campaign – banned in Australia?

Posted in Random by jukeboxparables on March 20, 2009

bus

Ok so first a disclaimer. I’m not much of a political animal so you won’t have to worry about finding contrived rants that just go on and on and on about politics in this blog! The random story can’t hurt though and this one caught my eye in particular. Though its more sociopolitical.

Basically Ariane Sherine, a Journalist and TV comedy writer was strolling through London, England one day and saw the following advertisement on a bus; “When the Son of Man comes, will He find Faith on this Earth?” and an associated web-page which of course was peddling the idea that as non-believers in God such people would be “condemned to everlasting separation from God and then spend all eternity in torment in hell” Wow, the religious folk behind that Advertisement/website are a chirpy bunch aren’t they?

Anyway to cut a long story short, Ariane eventually decided to counter this nonsensical bit of advertising with something intended to cheer-up the passer-by instead of filling them with doom and gloom. She setup an Atheist bus campaign that would run a counter slogan “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and [enjoy] your life.” The ad would run on London buses payed for by donations from people who supported the idea of a counter-slogan to the original wacko-religious one. She set a £5500 target to run the ad, this money was raised in a few hours and eventually the idea and donations snowballed and the ad went national, running on man buses all over the UK.

It didn’t stop there though. Atheist organisations in other countries loved the idea and ran with it. It’s become International with various slogans all over the world including: Canada, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, USA, Finland, Germany, Croatia and Switzerland.

Which leads me to my point. Everywhere except Australia! because the company that controls advertising on buses (APN Outdoor) would not allow an Australian version to appear. The Atheist Foundation of Australia attempted to run an ad stating “Atheism – Celebrate reason!” but it was knocked back by every state in the country. The AFA is pursuing legal action via anti-discrimination laws. But so far to no-avail. The ad is rather calming and affirming I find. It’s not challenging or shocking in any way yet It’s been suppressed.

On a side-note the AFA did run the slogan on buses at the recent Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, which was great. Here’s to hoping for a good outcome in this. I won’t hold my breath though.

I know that riff; Issue #1

Posted in Music by jukeboxparables on March 14, 2009

Over the years I’ve noticed songs ‘borrowing’ heavily from other songs, Of course I’m not so naive as to think this is a recent occurrence. It’s probably been happening since the invention of music period. But some things are more heavily borrowed than others, I’m not talking credited samples. I’m talking the unsolicited kind (as far as I know) So here goes;

M.I.A – Paper planes Intro is ‘borrowed’ from; The Clash – Straight To Hell. This was clawing at the back of my mind for the longest while. When M.I.A’s song was all over the radio I thought I was having a mental breakdown having heard the Intro before many times but I couldn’t place it.

Vanilla Ice – Ice Ice Baby Yeah Stop calibrate and listen… and take a sample from David Bowie – Under Pressure. I’m sorry to say since Im Gen-X I heard Vanilla’s song first. Yes, oh the humanity.

Lastly but surely not least. Jet – Are You Gonna Be My Girl. Okay so the award for the biggest offence to music has been saved right till the end. M.I.A only took about 5sec of an Intro, Vanilla Ice sampled it throughout his hit but prominent hacks Jet lift from none other than everyones favourite 60yr old with a 6pack Iggy Pop himself! Iggy Pop – Lust For Life Utter sacrilege.

Issue #2 sometime soon…

Life On Mars? – Axed!

Posted in Film & TV by jukeboxparables on March 14, 2009

It genuinely surprises me sometimes how often some of my more obscure love for things converge. David Bowie and police television drama seem like two separate and distinct worlds. Or at least they did before the odd UK Police drama series Life On Mars. The show tells the story of a detective who gets hit buy a car and wakes up in 1973. The title of the drama borrowed from the Bowie song of the same name.

Anyway what’s more surprising is that for probably the first and only time. I’ve enjoyed watching an American version of something British. It’s pretty well established that Brits do everything better, teaching Americans how to rock’n’roll since 1960 or so the saying goes. I’m not saying the series is better than the British one truth be told I haven’t given the British one enough time.

I did catch a few episodes of the UK series which aired here in Australia on ABC, yet the recent Americanized version of the show has had me totally hooked. Harvey Keitel has a Lieutenant? Brilliant!

The show has that odd-ball aspect to it. David Bowie’s song is not only the title/credit song It’s featured throughout the show during odd flashbacks of the lead character Sam played by Jason O’Mara. It all combines to separate it from straight-up shows that I love as in The Bill, or Law & Order. But It doesn’t go over board like a few of the newer Cop shows. It also humors itself.

So I was pretty shocked the other week when I learned it hasn’t been picked up for a second season! (this is the American version) So it will unfortunately join the graveyard of good series axed by the major networks in the states. Don’t get me started on Firefly.

Other ‘hit’ American shows like 24, Lost, Heroes, Prison Break have ALL gone downhill and literally lost the plot writing wise. It seems the only refuge left for American TV is Dexter. Hopefully that sticks around for awhile.

No more Life On Mars, what a shame.

Wall of death!

Posted in Oldschool/Classic Things by jukeboxparables on March 13, 2009

It’s amazing that token-everyday things that went on decades ago are unheard of today, well I suppose fads come and go. Back in the day before Ipods, Mp3 rollerskates, moonpies, internets and television people had to find alternate ways to entertain themselves.

Que the circus! which I’m sure you’re all aware probably featured Animal mistreatment, bearded ladies and strong man contests. I’m of course talking the 1920’s/30’s here. But how many of you have heard of the Wall of death? And no I’m not talking about that insanity that goes down at Metal festivals.

You might have recently seen the ‘sphere of death’ in where two people on motorbikes ride in perfect sync at high speed inside a rather large sphere and its all death-defying and the crowd roars.

But how about something on a larger scale, with a motorbike… and a car driven by a women… with a live lion as her passenger?

I stumbled across this link that has all of that and more. It’s pretty surprising what people got up to back in the good ole’ days before Occupational Health & Safety and Public liability laws. But then again there’s a video of it being performed in Afghanistan of all places, recently.

The first such sideshow was premiered at the Coney Island amusement park In New York, USA back in 1911. Called the motordrome it then due to popularity became a traveling carnival sideshow traveling the country and even reaching Britain in 1929.

The motorbikes of choice? Indians of course! I love the style of the early era Indians circa the 1920’s and 1930’s. More on them sometime soon.

Review: Shugo Tokumaru – Exit

Posted in Music, Review by jukeboxparables on March 11, 2009

51bqjostwkl_ss500_

So I was tallying up a score for this album and thought to myself, Oh my is it really that good? So I went back and tried to fault it, again and again but failed. The goal of most album reviews is to dissect an album and strenuously try to put how great (or bad) it is into words that convey the actual output of the sound qualitatively.

Fifteen seconds of the first track and you will know exactly what this album is about. It’s zany, in your face, bizarre circus-style Japanese Folk music and I love every second of it. No over the top in-depth stern talking to required on my part.

Shugo Tokumaru is definitely not a house-hold name to most. Though the young Japanese artist has been releasing music since 2004. This, his latest offering was released in Japan back in 2007 but us gaijins didn’t get it until September 2008.

Exit is a lesson in Indie-Pop-Folk. It’s sung entirely in Japanese, normally foreign albums tend to be grating and quickly lose their novelty but that’s not the case here; I’d happily place Exit amongst my best albums of 2008. The opening track “Parachute” sets you off down an Anime inspired skip and hop through the backstreets of Tokyo whilst warm dazzling lights eventually knock you over and then your falling; out of a plane; towards the city; you spot a circus tent and it breaks your fall. You’ve hit your head and you shake it off and try and come to your senses but track2 “Green Rain” grabs you and shakes you back to your odd dazzling adventure.

The actual music is by no means standardized, the chord progressions of various layered instruments such as: piano, acoustic guitar, drums, synths, flutes and any number of other devices create a brilliant texture of borderline horror-movie insanity but instead of making you feel ostracized as if on a certain illicit substance plagued by paranoia you feel a certain warmth. It’s infectious and catchy yet complex but subtle.

Shugo apparently bases his songs off a dream journal. This explains a lot. After subsequent listens of Exit you feel distinctly that if that vivid colourful dream you had last night had audio; this would be it’s soundtrack.

This album is east meets west in a way also. Traditional Japanese movements are mixed with Indie-pop rhythms. It’s a bit of everything without leaning too much in one direction to be easily pigeon holed. Comparisons could be made with fellow Japanese artist Cornelius, at least when tracks swing over to the electronic side of things more-so than usual. Shugo himself however claims influence on this album came from Japanese Pop and a pile of old Beatles cassettes. No doubt that analog sound of those cassettes transfused themselves onto Exit.

I’ve already mentioned that this is sung entirely in Japanese, no track better illustrates how much the language barrier is broken by this album than the sing-along “Button” You’ll be singing “Hey yay yay” in no time, even though I’m almost certain that is not what is being said. It somehow doesn’t matter though. This album let’s you go with the flow.

Things get minimalist on “La La Radio” and you get the feeling Sigur Ros is being channeled. A banjo with a traditional Japanese instrument and xylophone? Perfection! Up to 50 different instruments were used on this album along with household items such as cutlery, an ashtray, a doorbell and wind-up toys.

I wish I had a list of translated lyrics so I could comment on lyrical prose but It just doesn’t even matter. To say that it breaks those barriers is an understatement. If there’s a bad point to this album besides it possibly being Schizophrenia inducing (You lose contact with reality, forget your name and perhaps even forget where you are) Is that it’s so solid it’s hard to go back and pick a stand-out track and say I want to put that on repeat. It’s 4stars across the board, all tracks have that special something.

Subsequently, this all adds up to an album with that special something. It’s even more special when you come to realise Shugo produced the album himself on his own laptop.

Rating: 8.3/10

Tracklist:

1. “Parachute” – 3:04
2. “Green Rain” – 4:53
3. “Clocca” – 3:27
4. “Future Umbrella” – 2:04
5. “Button” – 4:02
6. “Sanganichi” – 2:37
7. “D.P.O” – 1:51
8. “Hidamari” – 4:37
9. “La La Radio” – 5:28
10. “Wedding” – 3:16

Shugo Tokumaru
Exit
Released: 2008
Label: Almost Gold Records