The Heavy, Courtney Barnett, and how I’m revising my views on modern music

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There was a time when rock n’ roll in its different forms was a dominant force in music. Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Queen, Journey, Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Fleetwood Mac, Aerosmith (a random namedrop) filled the arenas all over the world and people loved them. Then by the end of the 80s the industry became completely oversaturated with dudes wearing lipsticks and all that glam. Nirvana and grunge came along, hip-hop arrived in the mainstream, Britpop and so on. I would argue that music in general is more diversified than ever, but what an average person gets to hear on day-to-day basis is just a bunch of artists, those who are  the most intensely promoted by the recording companies. For several years it falsely led me to believe in the notion that ‘the music today sucks’. Continue reading →

Wonder Girls continue to amaze

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Wonder Girls by far remain my favorite Korean girl band. This summer’s new hit single, Why So Lonely does not disappoint – the only thing that’s unsatisfying is the fact that we didn’t get a full album. Sunmi, Yenny, Yubin and Hyerim continue their full band endeavor – I was kinda worried that they might give up on the instruments but I’m glad they didn’t – their approach continues to breathe fresh air into the industry. Singing, dancing and playing the instruments – darn impressive feat! Continue reading →

I Just Wanna Dance… with somebody like Tiffany

ijustwannadanceTiffany, my favorite Girls’ Generation member stepped up her game and made the solo debut recently, with a refreshing album entitled I Just Wanna Dance. Stylistically the release seems inspired by the 80s synth-pop and the 90s soulful r&b ballads sound reminiscent of Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston. It might be a bit of a stretch comparing Tiffany to these powerhouses, but the young singer has arguably the best voice in SNSD and it’s definitely one of the better ones in the Korean industry. Of course I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t mention how incredibly adorable she is as well.

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We need more of Better Off Ted

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Office Space started it all, (the original) British version of The Office perfected it, and IT Crowd played around with the idea. But when it comes to corporate/office environment shows there’s one often overlooked gem – Better Off Ted. Ricky Gervais’ The Office was absolutely hilarious, but underneath the comedy, there was something extremely dark about it.

On the contrary, Better Off Ted is an upbeat, rather lighthearted take on the genre, with some really witty quirks thrown in here and there. Recently I re-watched the two seasons which came out, and it really left me craving more. It’s not an ‘ambitious’ kind of show, with the word used in the meaning the critics use it, but it has plenty of clever jokes and running gags which will make you laugh your ass off. Continue reading →

Kuuseki no Circus by Kamin Shirahata with PLACEBO FOXES

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Kamin Shirahata (白波多カミン) came back with a new album on March 23 and I didn’t even know it’s been in work until the very last moment. As it turns out, the indie singer I fell in love with when I first heard her mini-album Kudamono (くだもの), decided to rebrand herself. Shirahata’s newest music endeavor is entitled 空席のサーカス (Kuuseki no Circus) and it’s recorded together with a full rock band, Placebo Foxes. The artist has left that singer-songwriter/folksy lore and her latest effort truly packs a punch. Continue reading →

What the funk Jane’s Addiction

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In a time when glam metal ruled the world and almost everything sounded the same (just like the shit pop of today) there were very few bands which stood out among the countless copycats. Guns N’ Roses reinvigorated hair rock with Slash’s hat, grand guitar solos, Axl’s outrageousness and the bluesy vibe in the vein of Aerosmith.

Jane’s Addiction seemingly also originated from the glam scene (which in all honesty seems more and more ridiculous the older I get), yet what they offered was this explosive blend of music genres which can’t be easily defined. This L.A. band were pioneers of the alternative rock and everything it came to be known as in the 90s (at this point alternative is a crazy mishmash of styles and ironically it is the new mainstream, really). With Perry Farrell’s distinct dreamy delivery and one of a kind music sound Jane’s Addiction quickly rose to be one of the music acts closest to my heart. Continue reading →

11 reasons you miss The O.C.

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Ryan, Seth, Marissa and Summer. Such an awesome and diverse bunch of kiddos. It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 10 years since The O.C. went off the air, after 4 seasons of teenage (and adult) drama rollercoaster ride, bolstered with a solid dose of humor. While the acting wasn’t exactly the forte of this show, folks like Adam Brody (Seth), Peter Gallagher and Kelly Rowan as Sandy and Kirsten Cohen, or Melinda Clarke as Julie Cooper gave strong performances that really stuck in my mind to this day. While the series at times plunged into the ridiculously soapy turf, soon enough it always rebounded back on the right track. The direction of the plot was often questionable, but you enjoyed watching these great characters and how they deal with their problems. Here’s the top 11 reasons why you wish The O.C. kept going. Continue reading →

Seiko Oomori, Zombie Chang, She Border Picture – my new CD purchases

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I bought a few new Japanese CDs recently – 2 of which happen to be created by fairly underground bands which managed to immediately win me over, while the third is a single that comes from an artist who’s currently extremely hyped in Japanese alternative scene. It’s another attempt at understanding the phenomenon behind the success of this peculiar singer. The popular doesn’t mean good, and the obscure doesn’t mean worse than the mainstream.

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Shiina Ringo 2016: televised shows and awards

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The bad taste in my mouth left by last year’s atrocious Coca-Cola song, Nagaku Mijikai Matsuri (長く短い祭), isn’t easy to wash off, but life goes on… Shiina Ringo appeared on the 66th NHK Kōhaku Uta Gassen, the Japanese New Year’s Eve music show, with the aforementioned tune and I loathed the vocaloid voice as much as ever. The act as a whole was visually great and Kamisama, Hotokesama intro bit was quite enjoyable, but the auto-tune just ruined the experience completely.

Anyhow, after few months of waiting on my part, WOWOW has finally broadcast a concert from 2015 tour. There was also another show of hers aired – a part of the 5th anniversary of Dream Festival on TV Asahi ch1, which took place on November 21-23 of 2015. What can I say – I’m crazy about her and she pretty much nailed it on both occasions, though there were few things I deem unnecessary. Continue reading →

Are the bankers as evil as we think?

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Over the last few weeks I’ve been familiarizing myself with the economic mumbo jumbo and reading up on the financial crisis of 2007-2008. Not going to lie, the economics and politics are 2 major things I tend to stay away from, as I don’t fully understand the former, and I get angered way too easily by the latter.
The recent Academy Award contender The Big Short, and the 2010 Matt Damon-narrated documentary Inside Job are the two movies responsible for my sudden interest in this subject matter.
They were not only compelling, but also made all the effort to present the circumstances of the crisis in an extremely coherent and straightforward fashion, so that even a layman like me got a lot from viewing them. Then again, ultimately I wish I didn’t know the dirty machinations that went on at that time.
So are the banks as bad as the filmmakers often make them to be? The short answer is they are far worse. Continue reading →