Monday, February 18, 2008

Determinations & Prince Buster - Al Capone / Determinations & Ego Wrappin' - A Love Song

Osaka, Japan is the world's capital of Ska music. I'm sure Jamaica has quite the scene, especially in the 60's and 70's. Punk Ska has come and gone and come back, but for the most part I've never really felt it. Ska should sound like +40 degrees bathed in sunlight and it still does, in Japan. Determinations is a great example of Osaka's massive Ska scene. I am glad to say I've seen the Determinations and the dub-trip-hop inspired side-project Little Yossy Noise Weaver. I wanted to go to a ska show, but none of my friends were hip enough to go with me. I have never really gone out to a club on my own but finally figured I had a choice to make - either see what this Ska business is or go to some lame gaijin dive hating myself. Lucky for me I chose the former.

Ska nights in Osaka are an amazing experience. The crowds are absolutely crazy - and much younger than I had expected. Ska music seems to be particularly big with the college kids and that was exciting for me to see since the music itself would well predate the music my mother was listening to when she was their age. (Brass bands are really huge in Japanese high schools and even though most of those kids don't yet realize it, many are likely to hone their talents in ska bands.) So I get to my first concert and notice everyone is dressed like rude boys and rude girls, clothing that hearkens back to the 50s and I look to the stage and there's like a 12 piece band on a tiny stage. When they started playing I got to experience skanking first hand and I've never looked back. I hope there is a similar Ska scene secretly hidden in wait for me somewhere in Winnipeg but I don't hold out much hope.

Here are two Determinations videos that give you a look at Osaka's ska scene first hand. One with ska legend, Prince Buster and another with Osaka's jazz darling, Yoshie Nakano of Ego Wrappin'.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Pato Fu - 30.000 Pés / UA - Love Scene

No!!! This blog is not dead! I swear. I have been busy with preparing a new portfolio. It seems that every six months or so I make a new portfolio for some fancy art school and it kills my blogging for the duration. But many of you people have been suggesting awesome music for me to check out and I have to say you are all on point. Most of the music I have on my iPod is a direct result of reader feedback. I love you guys, you have made my days at work so much richer (I can iPod it all day long at work if I waan). I would like to dedicate this post to Nyuudo. He has some great taste in music and has introduced me to all kinds of music from Chile, Brazil, Spain and France.

Pato Fu is from Brazil and is so good it makes me want to learn Portuguese. It's hip and soulful, fresh and diverse. I just purchased "Daqui Pro Futuro" which was released in fall last year and I find myself listening to it almost every day. I dare say it might be the overall best album I have heard in 2007, likely tied with UA's comeback album Golden Green. I wouldn't likely even have known the name Pata Fu if it wasn't for Nyuudo. Pata Fu is Brazilian for "Duck Fu" which seems to further solidify evidence of my love for any music involving ducks. There is of course a Japanese connection to all this. The lead singer is Fernanda Takai, who happens to be half-Japanese. While living in Japan I learned there is a strong Brazilian community in Japan. Japan and Brazil go way back in terms of trade and over the years both countries have been quite friendly with each other. I wont lie, I always thought the Brazilians in Japan were a little scary but after hearing all the cool music they come out with I think I had them pegged wrong. I regret not making a Brazilian friend or two when I had the chance.

UA's Golden Green is another album I can't seem to put down. UA is one of the first Japanese artists I can say I really got into. One of my goals in life was to see her in concert and I did. Another one of my goals was to collect her entire collection of old 8cm mini-CDs and I got pretty close. UA was on fire for quite a few years but like any self-respecting artist, began to experiment with her sound and released around three albums that were less pop and more like improv Jazz experimentations. I have them but they just don't resonate with me the way her earlier albums did. Then out comes Golden Green and I couldn't expect very much. I even thought twice about even bothering with this new disc, but I am sure glad I did. Golden Green could not exist today if UA hadn't taken some time off of her pop shtick and played around. Golden Green in many respects it the culmination of all that is UA. Out of the 12 or so songs I'd say half of them are perfect. Perfect music. Not a moment, ne'er a split atomic second is wrong. This shit's so smooth, it makes Barry White sound like a jack hammer. I want to call it pop... or jazz, but it's both and it's neither. This album should be in stores in Canada. It needs to be heard. Golden Green isn't as consistent as Daqui Pro Futuro but when it's on, it's like nothing you've ever heard. Honestly, I would have made the entire album 6 tracks and created the perfect extended EP. I love UA, and this album makes it clear why I do.

I hope I get more articles posted in a short time, I have so much to share. But I also have this nagging portfolio to finish. I will try to make time for both.

And for porno.