800 Cherries are (were?) a lovely lo-fi electronic pop folk duo from Japan. (Well, they sounded lovely; I don’t know what they looked like.) They come complete with amusingly fey almost-tuned synths and quintessentially Japanese quiet-little-girl vocals. They seemed to disappear a few years ago. I just heard some of their songs on Japanator Radio 63 and they put me in a happily mellow frame of mind.

Source: Japanator Radio 63

Omodaka “Asa doya yuta” – Electronics with traditional-sounding female Japanese vocal over it. Sounds nice, and a touch exotic. I’d like to find out a bit more about it. (From Japanator Radio 59)

Aira Mitsuki “Sazae Funkadelic” from Robot Honey – Electronic, heavily processed and very energetic J-Pop. I don’t know what it has to do with sazae, which is one of the the most revolting foods I have ever eaten. (From Japanator Radio 61)

Aira Mitsuki “Beep Count Fantastic” from Copy – Muscular techno instrumental with liberal sprinklings of 8-bit throughout. (From Japanator Radio 59)

Mosaic.wav “Anata no Tonari no Vampire” from “Meiwaku Mailing Girl” – Awesome hyperspeed pop chip(munk) tune. (From Japanator Radio 59)

Sleepy.ab “Palette” from Palette – Lovely melodic mid-tempo male vocal. (From Japanator Radio 59)

I went to a lot of effort to buy some Die!! Die!! Color!!! CDs. Their website pointed me to a retailer in Tokyo (Guh-roovy). I looked up the street address — Shibuya, opposite the Tokyu Hands north entrance. Then I used Google Street View to see the actual building it’s in. I could even see the bright “Guh-roovy” sign, so I knew exactly where to go. Then I flew to Tokyo and went to Guh-roovy. Where the guy behind the counter in the smallest record shop I have ever seen told me that their Die!! Die!! Color!!! CDs were sold out.

I tried lots of other shops. The megastores — HMV and the always-awesome Tower. The amazing new & used CD shops — Recofan and Disk Union. But Die!! Die!! Color!!! are apparently so indie that none of these well-known shops sells their music.

By way of consolation I bought a whole bunch of other CDs. Later I found some of their early demo tracks on the web. When it clicks, their light-hearted take on the heavy Digital Hardcore sound really works. One track in particular, ironically called “Silence”, is particularly good.

I’ll have to get in touch with them to try to get hold of some more recent music.

Posted by .

I just heard “Harder Than You Think”, a Public Enemy single from last year, from their album marking twenty years in the biz. I lost touch with PE about ten years ago when I decided they weren’t going to surpass “Nation of Millions”. Also I just couldn’t bring myself to get past the stupid title and ugly cover of “Muse Sick ‘n’ Hour Mess Age”. Fickle, I know. Anyway, it’s good to hear them still making noise. I loved the driving horns, and Chuck D sounded as annoyed as ever, if a bit older. Somehow Flavor Flav doesn’t really sound any older though. I thought he had disappeared into the world of terrible reality TV shows, but I guess not.

Depeche Mode used to be a synth-pop band from the UK. These days they sound full of doom and angst, brought on by bitter and painful obession; maybe this is what happens when people get old. Nonetheless, they’ve released many records, and lots of bootleggers have released records on their behalf.

My Depeche Mode Unofficial Releases discography (100k; last updated 1998) is very comprehensive, if unavoidably incomplete.

I’ve also compiled a great big cross-reference of all the unofficial DM remixes up to about 1995. It also includes reviews of the individual tracks by a number of people. This is the Depeche Mode Remix and Studio Bootleg CDs discography (100k; last updated 1995). I stopped updating it awhile back; most of the information in it (and much more besides) is in the other discography.

Posted by .

Hyperspeed pop/dance track of the week is Helen Love “It’s My Club” from “It’s My Club and I’ll Play What I Want”. This is truly awesome. It sounds like one of those hypervelocity Shibuya-kei bands, except the singer has a strong English accent. Helen Love have a Ramones fetish, and there’s nothing wrong with that. “Two turntables and a microphone, a 30-foot inflatable Joey Ramone…” That sums up this track perfectly.

By way of contrast, Kate Rusby’s version of the old folk lament “Blooming Heather” from her album Awkward Annie is quite lovely. She gives a beautiful performance, and the chorus features a plaintive Scottish male vocal that just tears your heart out.

I heard both these fine pieces on the always-good On The Wire from 17 November 2007.