Thursday, March 26, 2015

Guitar Vader | 5 albums, 2 EPs

Reupped again on March 26, 2015, at a reader's request, here.

If someone put a gun to my head and forced me to choose just one Japanese rock band to listen to until my retirement years, my first impulse would be: "Just kill me." For, how could I--how, indeed, could anyone--choose just one? My second impulse, tempered by the desire to continue living, would be to flip a coin: Heads = Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her; tails = Guitar Vader.

Formed in 1998 as a male-female duo, Guitar Vader was largely influenced by the Beatles and the Pixies, though they also learned and/or borrowed from every late 20th century act from Guitar Wolf to Beck. Their first album, Die Happy!, was released on cassette and never had a proper CD (or LP) release. (It is, I would argue, the single most perfect example of Japanese pop rock ever recorded.)

In 2000, they added a drummer and a couple of years later added a(n American) keyboardist. They broke up in 2007 when their drummer began to have serious health issues related to his heart; they had been working on a sixth studio album, which was abandoned. So far as I know, none of them seem to have pursued solo musical careers.

I found most of these albums on other, now-defunct sites, wiped out in the Megaupload action. They are, so far as I can tell, all out of print and impossible to find.

Included here are:

Die Happy! (1999)
Wild at Honey (2000)
From Dusk (2001)
Baby-T/GVTV/Shimanagasgi (2001)
Dawn (2003)
Happy East (2004)

Watch an interview with Guitar Vader's Ujuan Shozo and Miki Tanabe:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Women have dominated the Japanese pop music landscape for a solid century, providing the archipelago with its most beloved and forward-looking artists, from Matsui Sumako, who recorded the country's first pop song in 1914, pre- and post-war superstars Kouta Katsutaro and Shizuko Kasagi, and iconic legends like Misora Hibari and Maki Asakawa, to contemporary pop innovators Shiina Ringo and Kahimi Karie and ground-breaking alt girl groups like Buffalo Daughter, Ex-Girl, Nisennenmondai and OOIOO.

On Wednesday, March 25, Bodega Pop Live on WFMU's Give the Drummer Radio celebrated this rich X chromosome-centric history with a three-hour, 100-year  journey from early 20th century shellac to today's hottest tracks, including many of your favorite cuts and at least a few jams never before aired on WFMU or GTDR. 

Listen to the show now in the archives

Monday, March 23, 2015

Flashback 1 | Nigerian Pop 1970-1980

Listen to Wrinkar Experience's "Fuel for Love"

Listen to The Semi-Colon's "Slim Fit Maggie"

Reupped once again on March 23, 2015, by special request, here.

[Originally posted in June 2012.] It's true: You can't judge a CD by the lack of a cover. This is one of the greatest things I've ever found; although, truth be told, it was handed to me with a very, very strong recommendation.

So, I returned this weekend to Blessing Udeagu in Corona, Queens. The younger woman who was working there last time wasn't there; instead, there were two women, older than the first, hunkered down over a computer where they were gossiping about a mutual friend or acquaintance: "How can she put all of her life like that on Facebook?" 

When they saw me come in, one of the women asked me: "Have you been here before?" I said that I had, last weekend, in fact. "Did you buy music?" I nodded my head. "Did you like it?" Very much so, I let her know in uncertain terms. "My daughter told me about you!" she explained.

After establishing that, indeed, I was the guy who was there last weekend, the shop keep rose from the computer and came over to where I was standing by the CD rack and began pulling things off the shelf. "You need this one," she said, handing me the sleeveless CD you see above. I asked what it was. "Nigerian pop," she explained, "from the 70s." My heart began to race as she took the CD to the computer and popped it in. I nearly collapsed when I heard the first song. 

"Uh, this is great--I definitely need this!" I blurted out. She smiled and popped the CD back out of the computer.

I'm not sure how to classify this music--it doesn't sound like highlife--other than, simply, "pop." It's incredible. For those who know something about Nigerian pop, I've provided a track list below.

1. Fuel For Love, Wrinkards Experience
2. Be My Own, Founder 15
3. I've Been Loving You, The Wings
4. Nobody Fails, Ofege
5. Still Searching, Bongos Ikwe
6. Love Rock, Strangers
7. Slim Fit Maggie, Semi Colon
8. Nobody Called Me, Strangers
9. It's Gonna Be A Good Day, Blo
10. Money To Burn, Wrinkards Experience
11. She's My Choice, Sweet Breeze
12. Whizzy Ilabo, Ofege
13. Sitting On The Beach, Bongod Ikwe
14. Come Back Love, Tony Grey
15. Kissing You So Hard, The Wings
16. She's A Dropout The Apostles
17. Palmwine Tapper, Sweet Breeze
18. Dancing Time, The Funkees
19. Give The Beggar A Chance, Joni Maastrup
20. To Whom It May Concern, Tunji Oyelana

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Listen to Bodega Pop Live's XTREME MARATHON PART II show, now in the archives! Even though the show is over, you can still make a pledge to keep the greatest radio station on the air through 2015.

Everyone who pledges $75 AUTOMATICALLY receives a copy of Bodega Pop Live Presents: XTREME JAPAN, ear-searing, mind-twisting, bowel-eviscerating tracks from my massive personal super-posse of action-packed thrills from everybody's favorite archipelago!

Listen to the show now!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Gary & Meghan's Marathon XTREME PARK!!

Hey Kids, look: It's the 2015 WFMU fundraising Marathon! This year, WFMU will raise $1.2 million to keep the music flowing on one of the last great free-form radio stations in the country.

DON'T MISS OUR SPECIAL SHOW: Gary and Meghan's Marathon XTREME PARK! On Wednesday, March 11, Bodega Pop Live's Gary Sullivan was joined by the amazing Underwater Theme Park DJ Meghan McKee for three solid hours of Marathon Madness!

Listening to the show in the archives?

Pledging $75+ gets you my 2015 marathon premium CD:

XTREME JAPAN, a collection of outrageous Japanese avant-pop, breakcore, jazz-punk, noise, psychobilly & more from the 1980s - present!

Listen to the show now in the archives!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


On Wednesday, March 4, Bodega Pop Live on WFMU's Give the Drummer Radio spun three itchy and scratchy hours of the choicest freshly unearthed Argentinian arias, melismatic madness from Malta, sweet sorrow on Swedish shellac, heavy Yiddish yawping, and much more. 

If you missed it, you can listen now in the archives, HERE

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


On Wednesday, February 25, Bodega Pop Live on WFMU's Give the Drummer Radio spun three hours of music from al-Maġrib, from classic Berber, Chaabi, Gnawa + Malhun to psychedelic 70s superstars Les Frères Mégri and Nass El Ghiwane to the latest rai, rap, reggae + rock from the region.

Listen to the show in the archives

Josie Ho | Hell's Kitchen

Reupped a second time on Feb 25, 2015, here.

[Originally posted June 24, 2011.] A keen advantage of listening to "other" people's pop music is that, to the extent it's possible, doing so affords the listener at least the illusion of a far more visceral experience than listening to the music of one's own culture.

There is, alas, no such thing as a purely visceral experience--absent cultural, semiotic, etc., cues--not of anything human-made. We read, interpret, translate, bring our biases to everything. And everything is coded, even if we don't have the key, or have only part of it. There is, I'd argue, as a great a pleasure in completely misunderstanding something as there is in "getting" it--maybe even more so. Just ask the poets.

I bought the CD above--Hochiu (aka Josie Ho)'s "Hell's Kitchen"--in Manhattan's Chinatown one Saturday afternoon before straggling in to the Bowery Poetry Club to host a Segue Series reading. Once at the BPC, I spotted Franklin Bruno, a musician and music critic as well as a poet. I pulled out the CD in question, handed it to him and asked: "Okay, Franklin; you're an expert: What is this CD cover trying to tell us?"

Franklin chuckled a bit and then slowly flipped the CD cover back and forth a few times, before handing it back to me. "I'm picking up Patti Smith," he finally said.

As it turns out, despite "Hell's Kitchen"'s obvious nod to the cover of Patti Smith's "Horses," no one could be further from working-class androgynous hippy-dippy Romantic poet cum rock icon Patti Smith than Josie Ho. For one thing, Ho is the daughter of the purportedly richest man in Macau, casino tycoon Stanley Ho. The differences don't end with class background. Whereas Patti is also a poet, Josie is also a movie star. (And movie producer.) Whereas Patti's music is instantly recognizable for its shaggy, emotive intensity, Josie's music is slick, aggressive Canto rock and pop.

Look again into first Patti's eyes and then Josie's on those covers above. Patti looks soulful, vulnerable, almost frightened, even in what looks like "defiance." Josie looks something in between bored and simmering with sadistic energy. There's a way in which her cover feels as much of a nod to "A Clockwork Orange" as it is to "Horses." Take, for instance, this video, of "自衛術" ("Self-defense Art"), a song from the CD above, the only music video I'm aware of with a cake-fisting scene:

There aren't, to my knowledge, any other female pop artists who express this kind of energy (beyond the cake-fisting, I mean: the dancing with dogs in the tub, the messing with the fish, the singing to sock puppets, etc.). How, I want to know, do Hong Kongers "read" her? Is she a kind of Alex-from-Clockwork-Orange figure?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Fatima Tihihit | CD 503


Reupped by reader request here.

Found in a little CD/cassette shop in Marrakesh a block or two south of Place Jemaa el Fna. The CD itself started to make horrible noises several months ago, rendering it useless. Thank to Tim at the mind-bendingly awesome music blog Moroccan Tape Stash, I was able to get the files I'd first posted back in April of 2011 of this terrific album, so now you can have them if you hadn't DLed it the first time around.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Oulad El-Bouazzaoui | Milouda

Reupped by reader request, here.

[Originally posted on April 20, 2012.] Another of the many CDs I picked up while in Marrakech a few years ago. I think of this band as the Fezmatics, sort of like the Klezmatics--though, yes, I'm aware that that's the name of the production company or CD series and not the band. (And thanks to Hammer and Tim Abdellah for providing band and album name after this was originally posted -- for track list, see comments.)

I love the matching djellabas; it gives them a kind of early Beatles / Garage look that is oddly fitting with their music. (They are, after all, rawqin' Moroccans.)