This is a very fun album. I liked a recent Pipettes track called Thank You, which I heard on Fluxblog, so when I saw this earlier album I picked it up. The Pipettes are a girl group in the style of ’50s or ’60s vocal groups. This album is full of perky pop gems, mostly 2-3 minutes long, with bright choruses and a jump-around-the-room beat.  Pull Shapes is my favourite: with its call-and-response chorus it’s hard for me to sit still while listening to it here at work…

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Here’s some more NZ music for my wish list. If I can pry open my wallet I will purchase one or more of these and write a bit more for this website. These were all reviewed in New Zealand Musician magazine, Oct/Nov 2010.

Wai: Ora — Ancient rhythms merged with modern technology. I heard some of the tracks on the radio and they did sound good.

Ghost: Postcards from the Edge — Electronic dance music.

Luckless: Luckless EP — Simple, stripped-back.

Tono and the Finance Company – Fragile Thing EP — Fresh and original, while recalling Flying Nun and The Smiths.

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Peppy and punchy, and that’s just the drum track. Nice techno hoover sounds too, and a heavily vocodered vocal from Aira. My feet are tapping right now. This is the title track from her confusingly named new album. I’m glad Uneasy Listening isn’t a podcast because I have no idea how to pronounce it.

Source: Japanator Radio 155

The Perfume ladies sound slightly less robotic than usual in this pleasant pop romp. The best thing is the title, a very popular Japanese word often tacked onto the end of a sentence with a similar meaning to the English “Right?”. Speaking of popular words, I keep hoping somebody will come up with a J-Pop song called “Eeee?!” which is kind of a spoken equivalent to “OMG” but used mainly by women. Perfume could do a song like that, although it might be considered too similar to “Nee”. On the other hand, Perfume have never shied away from releasing soundalike songs. Nee.

Source: Japanator Radio

I haven’t even listened to my extensive Spitz collection for months, but their unique sound grabbed me as soon as I heard this new track. It’s a gentle pop-rock number, tuneful and tasteful as ever. It’s great to hear that they’re still making some noise.

Source: Japanator Radio 152

Vocodered or Autotuned vocals from Zowie, remixed by Pete Wiggs from Saint Etienne. Her flat delivery style works well in this song, which made me think of Kraftwerk, the Ting Tings, Depeche Mode, and any number of J-Pop singers. Zowie is from my hometown of Auckland, New Zealand, and I like her accent in this track — it’s not exactly Kiwi, but it sure ain’t American. Via RCRD LBL.

Cellist Zoë Keating’s strings-based “remix” of Terry Riley’s classic In C is fantastic. The Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble invited a number of artists to remix their performance of this minimalist piece. They released the results on an album called In C Remixed.

In the case of this track, I don’t know how much is from the source and how much is her own playing, but the combination is hypnotic, dynamic and exciting.

The title comes from “Zoë In C”, or “Z in C”. “Zinc”. Neat. And beautiful.

Source: RadioLab, 14 Dec 2009

Wow. A sweetly melodic ska(!) song from Halcali. Their voices are upfront, with no trace of autotune, and they suit the peppy backing track nicely.

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pal@pop’s Zipper is a lovely lightweight synth pop texture, sprinkled with piano, chugging along under a gentle female vocal. The singing is by Makino Yui, who uses the classic J-pop nasal little-girl voice. The verses have a fast two-note melody and the chorus is lovely and simple. Quietly uplifting.

Yasashii Kimochi is very slightly tougher, which isn’t saying much. Vocals by Halcali, using that faux-sassy rapping style they use these days. I love the verse ending that goes “Hitotsu dake wagamama ii desu ka?” Very nice rhythm.

Both these tracks are from the album feat.PLUS. Via Japanator Radio 149, which also featured a couple of nice tracks from pal@pop’s self-titled album.