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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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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

8-Bit Jesus

Video-game-themed remixes of holiday classics? I'm there. It's free -- what are you waiting for?

Oh, and in case you had an lingering doubt, here's the track listing which should put you over the edge. Or, I don't want to be your friend.
  • We Three Konami
  • 8 Days of Master Robots
  • Ryu, The Red Nosed Ninja
  • We Wish You A Merry Faxanadu
  • Silent Knight Man
  • Carol Of The Belmonts
  • Contraland
  • Little Drummer Nemo
  • Joy To Commando
  • Super Jingle Bros.
  • Bubbles We Have Heard On Bobble
  • What Guardian Is Legend?
  • Deck The Kremlin
  • Icarus! The Angels Sing
  • The Legend Of Noel
  • O Come, All Ye Vampires
  • Kraid, Rest Ye Merry Mother Brain
  • Have Yourself A Final Little Fantasy

(Album cover by Jude Buffum.)

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Shiny Toy Guns

I'm a fan of Shiny Toy Guns, so I grabbed their recent Season of Poison album, and I'm pretty pleased.

A little more eclectic than their last, but I like the orchestration and non helter-skelter nature of the mix (other than "Poison", which really should have been two to three songs).

But I dig the whole album's mix of rock and passion and clear vocals. Nother (yet) that I like as much as their single "Le Disko", but still some wicked good stuff.


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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Brian Vander Ark

Last night, I went to see Brian Vander Ark (previously of The Verve Pipe) at the Cactus Cafe at the University of Texas.

It's a small venue, and there were just south of two dozen people there.

I'm amazed the place wasn't packed, but I'm selfishly glad to have had such an intimate experience watching and hearing one of my favorite artists.

Brian did two long sets, which netted out to around a couple of hours, and played a lot of stuff from his albums "Resurrection", "Within Reach", and "Angel, Put Your Face On" (the latter two I picked up after the show). He also did one (maybe two) songs that aren't on any albums as of yet. "Evangeline" is really neat.

Brian came across as fun, funny, easy-going, confident in his own skin, and thoughtful. It made for a full-flavored night, as I laughed at his wit, and was alternately lifted or stung by his songs. He's a really pleasant guy with whom to talk, too.

I really enjoy all of his stuff, and have been a fan for a long time. Recent favorite tracks include "Another good man" and "I don't want to be a bother" (both from "Angel, Put Your Face On") and "!229 Sheffield" (from "Within Reach").

Of course, my all-time favorite is still The Verve Pipe's "The Freshman". And Brian did an amazingly powerful, heart-wrenching a cappella version which I feel blessed to have experienced (there's a cool live a cappella version on "Within Reach", but for me it doesn't hold a candle to seeing it).

So, yeah, it was a great, great night.

As an aside, Brian did a lot of the music for the film Pineapple, and is a strong friend and supporter of The Bohemian creative troupe.

You can hear Brian's music on his Website, and buy albums. Why buy when you can hear the music online? Reasons vary from person to person, but for me, it's important to support contributing artists, and I firmly believe in the importance of the whole "Give the worker his wage".

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Year Zero (Nine Inch Nails)

year zero, the new NIN album doesn't come out until later this month, but right now they're streaming the album in its entirety for free.

I'm listening to it now. And digging it. And still really liking NIN. Been a fan since the beginning.

Check it out:


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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Plans (Death Cab for Cutie)

I'm listening to Death Cab for Cutie's Plans again.

This is such a good, soulful, clean-sounding kind of album. And great for overcast breezy days.


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