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Music, voice demos from fellow actors, or other audio media that's currently caught my ear ...

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Osaka Popstar & the American Legends of Punk

I've had Osaka Popstar & the American Legends of Punk (w/Bonus DVD) for a looong time, and realized I've never talked about how pimpin' this album is in it's music, art, and brand model (yes, I said art and brand model). (Official site is here.)

I hate summaries, but I feel OK if I call it a Japanese anime-vibed punk take on OST themes and roots songs (like "Man of Constant Sorrow", popularized by Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?). Seriously.

And the band is comprised some of the (if not the) top punk purveyors -- John Cafiero & Jerry Only (The Misfits), Dez Cadena (Black Flag), Ivan Julian (Richard Hell & The VOIDOIDS; The Outsets), and freaking Marky Ramone (Um, The Ramones).

Their takes on Sailor Moon and Astro Boy are stellar (I so hope this latter track makes it into the upcoming CG animated film version), the Richard Hell covers ("Blank Generation" and "Love Comes in Spurts", the former being one of my favorites on the album) are tops, the aforementioned "Man of Constant Sorrow" (with contributing vocals from indie icon Daniel Johnston), and Johnston-written "Wicked World" is just ... so apropos.

And it's not just the band and the songs that are an amazing compilation -- its the art and packaging. Contributors include John Pound (Topps bubble-gum cards, Wacky Packs (a special sticker is included with the album), and creator of the Garbage Pail Kids), Dalek (aka at least one-time local-to-me James Marshall (Space Monkeys designer), Butch Lukic (Batman/ Justice League), and Nick Reid Tragnark (who's allegedly partnered with Cafiero to make a "Shaolin Monkeys" animated series, spawned by the album's song, and featuring a wicked slickly stylized look akin to a mashup between Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai Jack, or other Genndy Tartakovsky works). Every page of the liner notes is illustrated or photo composited in a playful, cohesive way. As a matter a fact, other than the forgivable divergence of the "Insects" liners, the disc is a great example of brand cohesion.

The album also comes with a DVD that includes animated videos for "Wicked World" (an "evil Kawaii"-esque 2D affair) and "Insects" a photo composited animation, a la early MTV days, and while the bugs are creepy, the flight-suited puppy band avatars are hilarious (as are their reactions to the bugs; every time).

All in all, a great album that scratches all the right spots for me musically, pop culturally, and in a brand-smart, business innovative way.

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