Ooomooodaaakaaa

Omodaka’s already-outstanding videos get even cooler when pushed through the Yooouuutuuube filter.

kokirikobushimosaic.jpg
Wired’s Underwire blog recently did an article about YooouuuTuuube, the site that takes YouTube videos and stretches individual frames out across your web browser. The most popular hit so far has been this mash-up video using samples from Alice in Wonderland.

I was playing around with it using my favorite videos from Omodaka. They work great and yield some pretty cool effects, since the videos already do a lot with symmetrical frames. If you play around with the frame sizes, you can get the full-page effect to match up with the beat of the music.

Here are my favorites:

  • Kokiriko Bushi: probably the best of the bunch, a screen full of skeletons and 80s disco lights.
  • Kyoteizinc: the mirroring effects in the original video get replicated dozens of times
  • Cantata No. 147: a screen full of weird singing heads

Thru You

Kutiman’s YouTube mash-up project “ThruYOU” is simply brilliant.

Thanks to Chris Remo for letting me know about ThruYOU, an online album from Israeli musician Kutiman. He made the project by remixing and resampling YouTube videos; the result reminds me of Emergency Broadcast Network, with more focus on the music than the video.

In case the main site’s down, you can see the videos on Kutiman’s YouTube Channel, or this compilation page compiled by a fan at innerlogics.com.

It really is phenomenal. It would’ve been impressive enough if even one track had worked, but he somehow managed to compile seven songs without a single dud. And even more impressive, it works as a complete album. My favorite is “Babylon Band”, but I’m embedding the first track, because you really should listen to them in order.

Two of the YouTube comments as of right now are “mindblowing” and “Dear God in Heaven. This is stupendous.” They’re not exaggerating.

Beat Bachs

A post on Boing Boing was the first I’d heard of Omodaka, a collaboration from a Japanese electronic musician putting out some of the most amazing videos I’ve ever seen. (You can read more about the artist on this modern Japanese music guide).

He’s got six videos available on YouTube, and pretty much every one is going to be something you haven’t quite seen before.

Kokiriko Bushi is a fantastic video that sums up everything distinctive about the music: a combination of 8-bit videogame music samples with traditional Japanese folk and pop vocals. (As Boing Boing points out, the track is an electronic version of a Japanese folk song).

I was a little surprised that my favorites were the ones that didn’t play up the retro-videogame angle. The Omodaka version of Bach’s Cantata No. 147 is just wonderful:

But my favorite (possibly my favorite music video ever) is Kyoteizinc. I love this so much I want to make another Voyager probe just so I can put this on the disc:

I’m hoping that a DVD of the videos makes it way to the US sometime, because this stuff is just amazing.

Her & He

she_autumn.jpgI feel like I’m late to the party with this one, but: She & Him: Volume One is just a great, fun record. (Evidence that I’m late to the party: I’m still calling them “records.”)

Like just about everybody else who saw the movie, I’ve had a crush on Zooey Deschanel since she sang “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with Will Ferrell in Elf. No surprise there; that’s exactly what the scene was designed to do. I read an interview with Jon Favreau (or maybe it was the commentary for the movie?) where he said the scene was inserted after hearing Deschanel sing at a party and being blown away by how well she sings.

So now there’s a new record out and you’d expect it to be more of the same, another album from an actress trying to make a music career on the side. But you can already tell this is different, since they promote themselves and the record just as another duo; it’s only when reviewers and musically clueless people like myself start writing about them that anyone draws attention to the fact she’s a movie star.

Even better, you don’t get the sense of anyone sticking to a comfort zone, or trying to make an important artistic statement. It really just feels like a couple of people who love the music they grew up hearing. I’d been expecting more of “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” where Deschanel sounds like she’s channelling a late 50s/early 60s movie musical actress. There’s a little bit of that on the track “Take It Back,” but the rest of the record is all over the place. A lot of their influences are listed on their band site; I’m not knowledgeable about most of that music, but even I can totally hear The Ronettes and Linda Ronstadt. And there are several that sound to me like Cass Elliott crossed with Karen Carpenter. But you don’t get the sense that it’s just impersonation or self-conscious parody, but someone who sincerely loves this music and wants to make more of it.

Best tracks are: “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?”, “Sweet Darlin'”, “Black Hole,” and “This is Not a Test.” But the whole thing just makes you feel like summer’s about to start and it’s time to get the car and just drive somewhere for no reason.

Also: I’ve listened to the new B-52’s record, Funplex, and it’s fairly forgettable, but worth it just for the song “Juliet of the Spirits.” Considering how much time I spent driving around Athens in a POS VW Bug listening to “Whammy!” over and over again in college, all this music is making me feel plenty nostalgic.

Also: If you think I just listen to girly music, shut up, who asked you? I listen to plenty of guy music, too. I can’t think of what it is now, since my “most recently played” list is all Amy Winehouse, Neko Case, Allison Krauss, Norah Jones, and now She & Him, but I know it’s in there.

More Doughty than a Fan Can Handle

goldendeliciouscover.jpgMike Doughty’s got a new album out, it’s called Golden Delicious, and I was already hooked just from hearing the 30-second samples.

I’m a monstrously big fan of Soul Coughing. My first take on Haughty Melodic (Doughty’s first “real” solo album) was unfair disappointment that it didn’t sound like Soul Coughing, but over time it burrowed its way down into my brain. My gut reaction to Golden Delicious is that it’s halfway between Haughty Melodic and an over-produced version of Irresistible Bliss (“More Bacon than the Pan Can Handle” might as well be a previously-unreleased track from one of the Soul Coughing records). It’s a little bit more experimental than the last record, but lacks that one’s consistency.

But then, there’s a reason I don’t write much about music.

He’s going on tour very soon, and will be in San Francisco at the Fillmore on April 29th, and I’ve already bought a couple of tickets. (At least I hope I did; the website seems to still be in transition).

Savvy record-buyers should be aware that there’s an extra exclusive track on the iTunes version of Golden Delicious. I still went with the Amazon MP3 version, because Amazon’s MP3 Downloads section is excellent. I’ve never been one of those shrill and obnoxious anti-DRM people, but obviously, getting something without DRM is better than with it. Plus, Amazon’s stuff is cheaper, it’s indistinguishably well-integrated with iTunes, and their customer service is excellent. I’m still an Apple fan and all that, but my loyalty is cheap and can be bought with only $1 per album.

Todavía me gusta la música

A few weeks ago, I rocked the internet to its foundations when I spent an entire week posting lists of my favorite things to this blog. But even by those low standards, I still managed to under-perform on the music section, a fact that haunts me to this day.

I’ve been digging through my iTunes library lately, both to prepare for my upcoming commute and in reaction to the announcement of the new tracks in “Guitar Hero Rocks the 80s” and Guitar Hero IIGuitar Hero 3 (“Heat of the Moment” + “Paint it Black” = awesome).

And going through my music library just makes it clear how the music I like is so much better than the music that other people like. Really, it’s orders of magnitude better. When you realize that, you see it’s my duty to inform my readers and give them the rich, meaty lists they crave.

My 25 Favorite Songs

  1. “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin
  2. “Tomorrow Never Knows” by The Beatles
  3. “Close (to the Edit)” by Art of Noise
  4. “The Rain Song” by Led Zeppelin
  5. “Rolling” by Soul Coughing
  6. “Levitate Me” by Pixies
  7. “Young Ned of the Hill” by The Pogues
  8. “Angelika Suspended” by Palm Fabric Orchestra
  9. “Full on Idle” by The Amps
  10. “Isobel” by Björk
  11. “Straight to Hell” by The Clash
  12. “Photograph” by Def Leppard
  13. “Song for My Father” by Horace Silver
  14. “Lady Pilot” by Neko Case
  15. “I Hear the Bells” by Mike Doughty
  16. “Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
  17. “Gimme Shelter” by The Rolling Stones
  18. “Dogs of Lust” by The The
  19. “Step Right Up” by Tom Waits
  20. “Sweet Thing” by Van Morrison
  21. “Let Forever Be” by Chemical Brothers
  22. “Unchained” by Van Halen
  23. “More Than a Feeling” by Boston
  24. “Stand Together” by The Beastie Boys
  25. “Soul Bossa Nova” by Quincy Jones

(Most of those links are to YouTube, so no guarantees they’ll last).

As if that weren’t enough, you get another list! A list of perfect albums. “Perfect” doesn’t necessarily mean my favorite albums, just that they either: 1) don’t have a single bad track on them, or 2) are so strong and build such a momentum that they sail right over the bad songs.

Twelve Perfect Albums

  1. Led Zeppelin IV
    Duh.
  2. Revolver by The Beatles
    The best pop album ever made.
  3. Boston by Boston
    It peters out towards the end, but you can’t start off stronger than this record.
  4. Come On Pilgrim by Pixies
    Surfer Rosa is my favorite Pixies record, and it counts too. But Come On Pilgrim is just a burst of concentrated brilliance.
  5. Haughty Melodic by Mike Doughty
    I was disappointed when I first heard this one, but I think in the two years since I’ve listened to it in its entirety at least once a week. There’s just not a bad song on it.
  6. El Oso by Soul Coughing
    Maybe this list is Mike Doughty-heavy, but you can’t be prejudiced against a guy for making two perfect records.
  7. Hello Nasty by The Beastie Boys
    Yeah, Paul’s Boutique, whatever. This is the only one I can listen to without skipping any tracks.
  8. Odelay by Beck
    For using the entire Becktionary, from Bazootie to Whiskeyclone.
  9. Telecommunication Breakdown by Emergency Broadcast Network
    I love the characters, I love the special effects.
  10. If I Should Fall From Grace With God by The Pogues
    The first four tracks are four of the best Pogues songs ever. On most records, it seems like the musicians put a bad track on because they ran out of ideas or talent and had to throw in filler. On this one, it seems like they had to put in a weaker song just to keep your brain from overloading on uninterrupted excellence.
  11. Time Out by The Dave Brubeck Quartet
    I thought this was one of the best albums ever recorded for at least a year after I bought it. And then I read the liner notes, which explained that it’s a concept album about time changes, and all of the tracks are experiments in non-standard tempo. Which is kind of like hanging out with Superman for a year and right as you’re starting to get bored of his powers, he reveals he’s also an award-winning pastry chef.
  12. Dig Your Own Hole by Chemical Brothers
    This one’s cheating, because the thing dies in the middle with a 6-minute track called “It Doesn’t Matter,” but it doesn’t matter. The rest is unrestrained awesomeness.

Now that that’s done, I can go back to never talking about music.

The best song of the BOSTON band of all the times

John Scalzi’s blog passes along the story that Boston’s lead singer died on Friday.

He also passes along some damn lies, saying that the band’s “moment is over.” Spoken like a guy who never played Guitar Hero.

Or, for that matter, never heard Boston. There are very few “perfect” pop/rock albums, and Boston is one of them. Even if it didn’t have the spaceship on the cover, it starts out with five songs that knock it out of the park, only letting up with “Something About You” at the end. And it doesn’t hurt that “More Than a Feeling” works both as a single and as the intro to a classic album; I thought that’s what album-oriented rock was all about.

I’m listening to “Foreplay/Long Time” right now, which starts with the trippy prog-rock organ opening and transitions to yet another of the album’s 10,000 unforgettable hooks. “The moment is over?” Are you high?

So here’s Boston living their moment:

And proof that the moment’s not over yet. Playing this song in Guitar Hero (note: this isn’t me, of course; I can’t get to “Expert” yet) is nothing short of transcendent: