Best of 2017: Kelly's Personal Picks

Posted by Kelly Sweeney Osato, December 22, 2017 07:45am | Post a Comment
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sometimes the past burns itself down

This year has been, in a word, unbalanced. Thankfully there was a wonderful array of music and movies to take the edge off the chaotic instability. Here are ten or so of my personal favorite new releases that got me over and through this year's peaks and troughs...

 Once And Future Band  self-titled debut album vunyl S/T LP Castle Face Records
Once & Future Band - Once & Future Band
(Castle Face Records)

This molten monolith of masterful musicianship dropped back in January and, dammit, it is without a doubt the best record of the year. Sounding a little bit like a bygone vision of future sounds, I like to think of this album as the melodic equivalent of going thirty years into the future and replacing the plutonium fission reactor on your homemade time machine with Mr. Fusion before returning to 1985. You could wear yourself out trying to dial-in the potential influences that inform the shifting paradigm of sonic cues, fluid syncopation, beyond-the-friend-zone journal excerpts et cetera at work here, or you could just let go and let this progressive psychedelic jazz-rock splitter take the wheel. Either way, you'll be totally taken in by this beast. It rules!

Check out this trippy rainbow Rorschach sponge art video for "Rolando":

Light In The Attic Releases first Anthology for their Japan Archival Series

Posted by Kelly Sweeney Osato, October 27, 2017 11:56pm | Post a Comment
Japan Archival Series Light In The Attic various artists collection Even A Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973 rare kissa rock angura movement kissa jazz new music 1960s 60s tokyo scene

Record shopping in Japan is an incredible and humbling experience. Since moving to the Connecticut of Japan last Spring I've enjoyed exploring as many record stores in and around Tokyo as possible, regularly testing the limits of my willpower wallet while discovering one long-sought gem after another. What's more, records here are more often than not found in great if not near mint condition and almost always come crisply wrapped in those snazzy resealable outer sleeves. Whether you're digging through one of Japan's many mega music emporiums, curated record boutiques, or any old hideaway/warehouse situation stuffed windows-to-the-walls with miscellaneous wax, the scope of excellently kept, hard-to-find vinyl stocked in record stores here never fails to amaze. That said, scoring coveted original releases by Japanese artists at "the nice price" can be surprisingly tough, which means acquiring the same prized/pricey titles stateside can be doubly difficult and hardly worth it (itinerant flippers be damned). Enter the warm glow of Light In The Attic Records...

[quick side note: All new CDs and LPs from Light In The Attic, including their sub-labels Modern Classics, Future Days, Mondo, Death Waltz, and Waxwork, will be 20% off at our stores Monday, October 9th - Sunday, November 5th 2017! For more info go here]
Japan Archival Series Light in the Attic label Japanese music anthologies collection various artists vinyl
Since announcing their Japan Archival Series last April, the Seattle-based label has finally brought their inaugural release for the project to US ears with Even A Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973, the "first-ever fully licensed compilation of this music to be released outside Japan". This collection of nineteen tracks spans an era when Japan's youth culture shifted from championing the Surf instrumental (think The Ventures) Eleki trend and the Beatles-inspired Group Sounds (G.S.) movement that dominated Japanese pop culture in the 1960s to more poignant, living room singer/songwriter sounds reminiscent of Bob Dylan, mellow Laurel Canyon boho vibes, soft psychedelia, and miscellaneous Americana (à la The Band and Neil Young). Fueled by mass student protest demonstrations and an underground ("angura") movement bent on subverting long-standing stuffy traditions, young musicians rejected Beatlemania replications in favor creative authenticity, giving birth to fresh genres like the aptly named New Music and Kissa Rock (literally "Café Rock, so-called due to the venues they frequently played). Some of Japan's most beloved and influential music-makers made a name for themselves during this crucial period, and many of those heavy-hitters whose early works are featured on this comp would go on to further enrich the fabric of music history in Japan and beyond long after the angura movement's hippie heyday. For example, Haruomi Hosono, who lends his distinct James Taylor-esque vocals to two tracks on this compilation (both as a member of influential Folk Rock band Happy End and with a track from his 1973 self-titled solo debut), would later form the innovative electronic band Yellow Magic Orchestra with Ryuichi Sakamoto and Yukihiro Takahashi (whose Sadistic Mika Band bandmate Kazuhiko Kato also has a solo track featured on this comp). This example is by no means representative of the extent of Hosono's legacy as one of the most important figures in Japanese music history and his career trajectory is but one slippery slope of many rabbit holes one can fall into exploring via this compilation. Plus, aside from being a lovely aesthetic object featuring original artwork by illustrator Heisuke Kitazawa, the total package includes extensive liner notes and bios (put together by compiler/producers Yosuke Kitazawa and Jake Orrall) that dig deeper into this music that has been, as Light in The Attic puts it, "tantalizingly out of reach for decades" while setting the stage for overlaps and other points of interest that'll surely connect this particular anthology to forthcoming releases and reissues for the Japan Archival Series.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me blu-ray Special Edition now available via Criterion!

Posted by Kelly Sweeney Osato, October 22, 2017 07:26am | Post a Comment
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When it was announced a few months ago that Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (David Lynch's 1992 feature-length prequel to his seminal 1990 television series) would be getting the Criterion treatment, all us Twin Peaks obsessives noted the October release date and made a little shelf space to the left of our Definitive Gold Box Collections. Now the wait is over and the slick new Special Edition blu-ray release is here, teasing attractive director-approved specs and bonus features, and spurring fans to revisit the awesome glory of one of the most harrowing film viewing experiences worth surrender one's self to—especially if you, the viewer, has no prior knowledge of Twin Peaks lore. Personally speaking, having been disturbed by Fire Walk With Me when it first hit the theaters (I was only a year or two younger than main character Laura Palmer at the time), and then disturbed again earlier this year when the Alamo Drafthouse brought it back to the big screen before Twin Peaks made its surprising return to television for a third season set twenty-five years after the show's original run, I must say this lush realm of mystery, horror, beauty, and compassion Lynch has created is a deeply addictive gift that keeps on giving, if you've got the guts to stomach it. On that note, would it be wrong of me to venture that Fire Walk With Me is the most savory and satisfying yet deliciously difficult to swallow slice of the Twin Peaks pie? I think not.

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End-of-Summer Cinema Binge: Crazy 80s Beach Movies!

Posted by Kelly Sweeney Osato, September 21, 2017 11:20pm | Post a Comment
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Summer is over, or is it? Well, it certainly doesn't have to be! For the last few weeks I've been mostly landlocked, cooped up and unable to make it to the beach or anywhere else due to some bad luck and doctor's orders, but that hasn't stopped me from chasing my stupidest end-of-Summer seaside shenanigan-filled dreams by couch-surfing a good ol' beach movie marathon. And not just any old sandy surf movies, but specifically those bitchin' beach features from the golden age of VHS rentals and late night Cable TV programming—the 1980s!

Listed below in no particular order are sixteen films that, for better or for worse, fit the bill; feel free to let me know if any crucial contenders have been omitted (I had to pull the plug before hitting the bottom of the barrel). As I mentioned in my previous Amusement Park movie binge post, a lot of these titles are likely to be found used in our stores, especially if you're seeking to own them on VHS or LaserDisc. Please check the links to our online store or give us a call to see if we've got what you're looking for and we'll do our darndest to make your crazy 80s beach movie/tangible format dreams come true the old fashioned way, dude.

where the boys are '84 1984 movie poster crazy 80s movie list
Where the Boys Are '84 (1984)

Fair Winds and Following Seas Aboard Numero Group's Seafaring Strangers: Private Yacht compilation

Posted by Kelly Sweeney Osato, July 31, 2017 10:11pm | Post a Comment
Numero Group Wayfaring Strangers Seafaring Strangers Private Yacht soft rock smooth 70s jazz pop soul beach music compilation
Is popular music pounding a hole into your Summer soul? Are you tired of your local "light rock, less talk" radio station slicing out the same old top-forty farts? If you're looking for deeper-than-deep Soft Rock cuts, other songs titled "Sailing," and generally more "yacht," less Lil Yachty in your life, then Chicago-based label Numero Group has got you covered. Welcome aboard Seafaring Strangers: Private Yacht, the latest addition to their stellar Wayfaring Strangers series of compilations and a twenty track bounty of sonic solutions for anyone in need of a latitude adjustment à la boxed pinot grigio soaked, gently-rolled joints of poolside AM GOLD.
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Numero Group's knack for mining oddities and essentials from America's private press netherworld and beyond is legendary at this point and, given the scope of known and unknown genres already showcased in their broad range of compilations, Private Yacht feels as delightfully inevitable as it sounds immediately right-on at first listen. In many ways it plays as if it's picking up where their Record Store Day 2012 compilation WTNG 89.9FM: Solid Bronze left off, each track possessing similar stylistic qualities whether they skew more towards AOR, Modern Soul, lite Disco/Funk, dockside singer-songwriter Folk, or Smooth Jazz-tainted Southern Rock session throwaways.

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