Amoeblog

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Santa Ana, Downtown Orange County

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 11, 2010 04:00pm | Post a Comment



The Dutch

Santa Ana is the county seat and most populous city in Orange County. To vote for other Orange County communities to be covered here on the blog, click here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, click here. To vote for LA neighborhoods, click here.

 

Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Maps of Santa Ana

Santa Ana is surrounded by Garden Grove to the northwest, Anaheim to the north, Orange to the northeast, Tustin to the east, Irvine to the southeast, Costa Mesa to the south, Fountain Valley to the southwest and Westminster to the west. For this blogventure, I was accompanied by Orange County's Emily Ryan.

Continue reading...

California Fool's Gold -- Orange County Here We Come...

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 14, 2010 03:32pm | Post a Comment
 
A hand drawn and hand painted map of Orange County from Pendersleigh & Sons

OK, since the Los Angeles neighborhoods (click here to vote) and Los Angeles County communities (click here to vote) polls have gone down a right storm, I'm making a poll for Orange County communities and neighborhoods (conflated). After all, Orange County was just another part of Los Angeles County until March 11, 1889 when it became a separate entity.

Please vote here for as many as you'd like to see become the subject of a future blog entry. Thanks! Oh, and if I've forgotten any, kindly get at me. If'n yins 'r' rude yis'll get treated like a you-know-what. 





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Keep on Music New Wave and '80s Reunion Party - The Vietnamese New Wave Revival

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 9, 2010 07:19pm | Post a Comment



Last November, Keep on Music threw a New Wave + ‘80s Reunion at Bleu in Westminster. This isn’t new wave in the sense that a lot of people use the term, but rather a mix of Italo, Eurodisco and other ‘80s dance music that notably found considerable popularity with Asian-Americans in the 1980s. I was only turned onto the scene four years ago, by Ngoc Nguyen, who is a Vietnamese New Wave super fan (especially of Sandra).

Flash forward to the present and near future: March 27th. On that day, Keep On Music’s having a second New Wave + ‘80s Reunion at the Can Asian Entertainment Bar in Garden Grove. Unlike last time, I won’t miss this one and neither should you! Luckily for us newbs and the uninitiated, some key figures of the new wave scene graciously agreed to sit down with me and answer some questions about the Asian/Vietnamese new wave scene for Eric's Blog

Vietnamese New Wave - Part II

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 8, 2009 02:01pm | Post a Comment
Due to popular response, here's a follow-up to my initial blog on Vietnamese New Wave. For those of you who may not have read it, Vietnamese New Wave (less often called Asian New Wave) is not Vietnamese music. Think Northern Soul, a British genre of music that didn't come from British artists, but were beloved by 70s speed freaks for their common sound. At least, they didn't make it, but they took it, played it at dances, made bootleg mixes of it on tape and CD. The songs in the genre share easy-to-dance-to/syncopation-avoiding beats (setting it apart from Freestyle), easy-to-learn and obviously ESL lyrics, and are completely devoid of pretense or irony. My love and exposure to this amazing music is owed entirely to an amazing person, the flawless tastemaker, Ngoc Nguyen.


Vietnamese New Wave artists come from a variety of scenes including Italo-Disco, (English, French and Swedish) Synthpop and (German and Spanish) and Eurodisco. Beginning in the some time around the mid-to-late '80s, these bubbly, infectious tunes found an unexpected audience in the Vietnamese diaspora who disseminated these gems through the aforementioned mixtapes, parties and bootleg mix CDs which you can still find in Little Saigons around the globe.

We carry many of these artists at Amoeba. Most are found in the Freestyle section. However, a lot are found in, erm... Rock. So ask at info if you can't find something.


La Francitronique
- French synthpop
Where the French are widely known for their chanson and yé-yé, as well as their considerable contributions to Romanticism, house and rap (among other musical forms), their central importance in the development of electronic pop music is bizarrely less well known than, say, the Germans' or Italians' -- even though Jean Michel Jarre and The Rockets were making electronic pop music back when Kraftwerk were still bearded, flute-playing hippie longhairs. Nonetheless, most French synthpop was sung in French, thereby considerably limiting its audience. But at least two acts are firmly within the Vietnamese New Wave canon.

 
Début de Soirée


F.R. David

Kashmir (no video)

Magazine 60


Freizeithknast
-
German Eurodisco

Like most Eurodisco, the German variety is often lumped in with Italo, despite its Teutonic origins. Although musically it’s quite similar, there is an overall greater emphasis on pop song structures resulting in a slightly less club-oriented, keytar-dominated sound that takes it further away from its disco roots. Additionally, whether produced by Dieter Bohlen (Lian Ross, Modern Talking, Blue System, C.C. Catch, &c) or not, many German Eurodisco songs bear his influence, or that of others in his style. Whereas the Anglosphere proved fairly unreceptive to German Eurodisco, the artists found massive fame in Central, Eastern and Northern Europe; the Middle East, South Africa, and of course East and Southeast Asia.

Angela Lee (no video)

Bad Boys Blue


CC Catch

Cheryl Hardy (no video)

Fancy

Gina T


Jim Player (no video)

Joy


Kay Franzes

Kelly Brown


Lian Ross


Modern Talking

Mozzart

Sandra

silent circle

Stravaganza (no video)


Italio Stalio
- Italo-Disco

Initially, what came to be known (only in retrospect, mind you) as Italo disco grew out of a synthesis of Space Disco's sci-fi preoccupation and (usually) Hi-NRG's staccato rhythms. Although “disco” became a dirty word in the Anglosphere, much of the rest of the world wasn’t ready to give up the ghost in the arcade machine. Whereas rock and rap grew unhealthily preoccupied with authenticity and machismo, Italo remained blithely indifferent and the videos often featured heavily-made up or scantily clad figures chosen more for their figures than singing talents. Although Italo is often used to describe all music in the ‘80s Eurodisco scene, here it’s only used for genuine Italian artists…although I hesitate to use the words “genuine” and “artist.”

Den Harrow

Fake (no video)

Fun Fun

Gazebo

Kano

Katey Gray (no video)

Ken Laszlo

My Mine

Wish Key

Sabrina


Savage



El sonido Sabadell 
- Spanish Eurodisco
Unlike their Mediterranean neighbor, Italy; Spain isn’t nearly as widely recognized for their '80s Eurodisco scene. In fact, it's much more likely to be referred to as Italo than its German Eurodisco counterpart. To be sure, there is little to distinguish Spanish Disco from Italo-disco musically, but the Spanish variety is much more often sung in the performers' native language. In Spain, it was widely associated with the Catalonian city of Sabadell.

David Lyme (no video)

Night Society (no video)

Squash Gang

Viet covers

Of course, it was only a matter of time before Vietnamese performers (such as Anh Thuu, Lynda Trang Dai, Nguyen Thanh, Tommy Ngo, Trizzie Phuong Trinh, &c) and Cantonese singer Cally Kwong started covering the New Wave songs, although amongst fans, nearly everyone understandably seems to prefer the originals.




Vietnamese New Wave - Part I - German Euro-disco

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 8, 2008 10:14pm | Post a Comment
Vietnamese New Wave

Are any of my readers out there Vietnamese? I was turned on to this amazing genre by "the Jewel of La Puente," the one and only (OK, one of thousands but still one of a kind) Ngoc Nuyen. I have asked the experts here at Amoeba Hollywood about "Vietnamese New Wave" (also referred to as Asian New Wave at times) groups and no one seems even remotely familiar with any of them, with the exception of Chris Matthews, to whom "Modern Talking" sounds familiar ...

First of all, when people talk about Vietnamese New Wave, they’re not talking about Vietnamese artists (although there is Thu Thuy, Lynda Trang Dai and supposedly a tieng viet cover of a Night Society song), but rather a movement that includes mostly German Euro-disco, Italo-disco and English synthpop artists who acquired, through means that no one seems to understand (although it definitely involves mixtapes) massive popularity amongst Vietnamese in Cali, Texas and Canada (and maybe elsewhere).

And whilst there’ve been at least four or five documentarians who’ve explored the still supposedly strange popularity of Morrissey amongst Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, to my knowledge no one has yet delved into the mysterious “Vietnamese New Wave” movement in which (in addition to OMD, Pet Shop Boys and Gazebo's "I Like Chopin") four German performers, with no radio play, no MTV exposure, no Amazon recommendations, no local performances came, against all odds, to achieve stardom in the Vietnamese immigrant population.

To start with, the term “new wave” as used in music means many different things to different people. History records that Sire records head Seymour Stein was the first to borrow the term from the 1950s and 60s film movements from Europe to describe the bands that played at CBGB like Blondie and the Talking Heads. Before long it seemingly became applied to any band formed after 1976 and was applied to such musically dissimilar artists as Spandau Ballet, Elvis Costello, Tom Petty, the Thompson Twins and definitely anyone with asymmetrical hair or '80s fashions regardless of their sound. By the late '80s, I don't remember anyone really using it anymore. "Alternative" had pretty much replaced it as the term for anything underground or bizarre (at least in Columbia, Missouri, where I was still living.) Anyway, in the context of Vietnamese New Wave, four performers loom large that are pretty much completely unknown by every non-Vietnamese I’ve talked to (except DJ Lance Rock, pictured below, with Vietnamese New Wave expert Ngoc-Thu Nguyen and some people who've never even heard of Modern Talking, including Amoeba blogger Chaz Reece).


Hi-NRG” was a term coined by the UK magazine Record Mirror which had a Hi-NRG chart and was used to describe songs with a staccato sequenced synthesizer as heard in Hazell Dean’s “Searching (I Got To Find a Man)” and Evelyn Thomas’s “High Energy.” This music, filtered through songs like Dead Or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” became known as Eurobeat to some, although I had never heard anyone arguing about the distinctions of these sounds until the age of the chatroom, many years later. There's arguements about what’s what and even Freestyle was frequently marketed as Hi-NRG in the US (as well as Latin Hip-Hop and who knows what else). Canadian band Lime was often considered Italo-disco. I’m not an expert but there is a common sound to the stars of Vietnamese New Wave, as I’m sure you’ll hear if you take the time to watch these awesome videos.

In my research I have found that they have a “New Wave Night” at the Shark Club in Costa Mesa on the first Friday of every month (in the Red Room) and it's specifically Vietnamese New Wave, so I’m going to have to check it out for further research and get back to you.


Bad Boys Blue

Bad Boys Blue was formed in Cologne, Germany in 1984 by producer Tony Hendrik and his lyricist wife Karin van Harren. The group itself was comprised of a Brit, an American and a Jamaican. They became most popular in Russia, South Africa and Ukraine.






C.C. Catch

C.C. Catch, born Caroline Catharina Müller in Oss, Netherlands, moved to Germany in the 1970s and eventually teamed up with writer Dieter Bohlen in 1985, who produced all of her hits (well, hits in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Yugoslavia) until they fell out in 1989.




Modern Talking

Modern Talking was formed in Berlin by Dieter Bohlen and Thomas Anders in 1984. They split in 1987 after achieving considerable popularity in Argentina, Austria, Finland, Iran, Scandinavia, South Africa and Switzerland. In the UK they were marketed toward fans of gay duos like Erasure, the Pet Shop Boys and trios Bronski Beat and Culture Club, despite their heterosexuality. In their videos and live performances they usually consciously appeared with a measured distance between them, fearing that their assumed gay image was holding them back. In 1985, Thomas Anders began wearing a necklace which spelled out his girlfriend’s name in gold letters.







Sandra

Sandra Cretu (born Sandra Ann Lauer in Saarbrücken, Germany) was in the disco group Arabesque and before she began performing solo as Sandra in 1984. After teaming up with her then boyfriend Michael Cretu, she became immensely popular in Germany, Israel, Lebanon and Switzerland. In America she is still mostly known, if known at all, as the female voice in “Sadeness,” the hit single of her by-then-husband’s group Enigma. She’s the one whispering “Sade, dit moi. Sade donne moi.”

 


Go here for Part II of Vietnamese New Wave!

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