Sunday, April 26, 2015

Special Guest: KXLU's DJ Papa Gentle

This Wednesday, April 29, Bodega Pop Live on WFMU's Give the Drummer Radio welcomes fellow bodega-diver, DJ Papa Gentle! For nearly a decade DJ Papa Gentle has delighted Los Angeles listeners with The Dream of Harry Lime, a globe-trotting tour of the holy and unholy alike, from raucous Senagalese tassukats on cassette to Vietnamese soul singers on 45, airing every Wednesday night from 8:00 - 9:00 PM Pacific Time on KXLU. (Check out his playlists here.)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Asakawa Maki | 18 albums

[Re-upped once more on April 25, 2015, at a reader's request]

When I was in Tokyo in mid-2010, I spent a couple of full days wandering around almost all of the 9 floors of the massive Tower Records superstore in Shibuya. 

When I got off the escalator at floor 2, which houses Tower Shibuya's extensive J-Pop and J-Indies stock, I was immediately struck by a kind of mini-shrine made up of of the CDs of Asakawa Maki, most of which seemed to feature grainy black & white photographs of the singer on the cover, often smoking.

I had no idea who this mysterious enshrined singer was, but after a bit of YouTubing and Googling, I was able to figure it out. Asakawa Maki was born on January 27, 1942, in Nagoya--she'd have been 70 years old this month had she not died in 2010, just shy of her 68th birthday. She got her start singing in U.S. Army bases, but got her big break in a series of concerts organized by avant-garde poet and playwright, Shuji Terayama in 1968. (Terayama would write lyrics for a number of her early songs.)

Over the next 40 years, Maki (as she was often referred to) released some 30 records, only slowing down in the aughts. She continued to perform live up until her death. She was one of the greatest, most expressive singers of all time, not just in Japan, but in the world.

Listen to "House of the Rising Sun" live

Asakawa Maki II
Asakawa Maki no Sekai
Blue Spirit Blues
Cat Nap

Darkness I
Darkness II
Darkness III
Darkness IV

Maboroshi no Onna-tachi
Nothing at All to Lose

Rear Window
Ura Mado Maki V
Yami No Naka Ni Okizari

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Interview with Combodian rock vinyl collector Nate Hun

A piece I wrote for Tina Pamintuan at the Asian American Writers Workshop about Nate Hun, whose vinyl collection helped shape Cambodian rock doc Don't Think I've Forgotten, just posted on Open City

And, if you're in the NYC area, maybe see you tonight at Dust-to-Digital's release party for the Don't Think I've Forgotten soundtrack, where Nate will be spinning from his collection!

Monday, April 20, 2015


On April 22, Bodega Pop Live on WFMU's Give the Drummer Radio celebrated the crazy, infectious music of Bappi Lahiri, Bollywood's self-proclaimed Disco King. 

Lahiri, whose mother and father were both musical professionals, may be best known for the soundtrack to 1982's outlandish and hilarious Mithun-vehicle, Disco Dancer, but there's more to this composer -- and frequent musical plagiarist -- than first meets the ear. 

We danced our sweet asses off to many of the hits, of course, but we also dug deep into the Lahiri catalog, exploring crazy experimental collaborations with Kishore Kumar (including a just-discovered track from a film that -- holy role reversal, Bappi! -- Kumar directed and wrote the music for and which Lahiri belted out) and surprisingly haunting melodies from the early 70s, to extended Hindi disco mixes from the 80s, to award-winning Telugu tongue-twisters from the 90s, to remixes and "rap" from the 2000s to today. And, we heard a few things his parents recorded as well.

Listen to the show now in the archives

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Rare Cambodian rock on vinyl + more!

On April 18 Bodega Pop Live's Gary Sullivan filled in for Rob Weisberg with special guests John Pirozzi, director of DON'T THINK I'VE FORGOTTEN: Cambodia's Lost Rock and Roll, and Cambodian vinyl collector Nate Hun.

We spun super-rare Cambodian vinyl for the first time on air and talked in depth about the music and Cambodian history, about John's film (which opens Weds Apr 22 at Film Forum), about John and Nate's interest in Cambodian music and culture, about their work on the upcoming Don't Think I've Forgotten soundtrack from Dust-to-Digital, and finally about the DTIF Cambodian Rock tour that takes off Friday Apr 24 at City Winery.

Listen to the show now in the archives

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Happy Lao New Year!

On Wednesday, April 15, Bodega Pop Live on WFMU's Give the Drummer Radio celebrated Lao New Year, or Songkran, with three hours of non-stop lam, synthed-up mor lam, khene-fueled hip-hop, rowdy ethnic minority music and much more, from field recordings, Bandcamp pages, and your humble proprietor's sizable collection of Lao CDs plucked from the shelves of bodegas in Dallas, Portland, and Seattle.

Listen to the show now in the archives

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

DJ battle with guest DJ Poodlecannon!

On Wednesday April 8, on Bodega Pop Live on WFMU's Give the Drummer RadioNorth Brooklyn purebred DJ Poodlecannon (Drom, Mehanata, PS1) returned for an epic rematch with the Bodega Cat in a three-hour, winner-take-all match! 

Who spun the cheesiest international pop? The craziest outsider track? Who laid down the saddest, most gut-wrenchingly gorgeous ballad in the world? 

Listen to the show now in the archives to find out!

Sunday, March 29, 2015


On April 1, Bodega Pop Live on WFMU's Give the Drummer Radio celebrated the focused and foolhardy alike with a three-hour junket through the world of home recordings, cassette-only releases, DIY hip-hop, and all manner of outsider-y, field-y goodness from thriving underground scenes in Barcelona, Spain, and Recife, Brazil, to random acts of rawness from Austin to Zürich.

Listen to the show now in the archives

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