August 22, 2002

Music I’ve been loving lately:

Boom Selection CDs
An overwhelming amount of music, surely more than any box set I’ve ever owned, but I’ve got the rest of my life to listen and let it sink in. Right now I’m loving the third disc, which has the wonderfully mashed-up “Smells Like Teen Spirit”/”Get UR Freak On” (it’s been years since I’ve had any passion for “Teen Spirit,” and the Missy song never did much for me, but Cobain and Elliot make a fine team), and Cartel Communique’s “Only Stan Can Break Your Heart” mostly succeeds at replacing Dido’s irritating Lifetime-network teasipperisms with the beauty of St. Etienne covering Neil Young. And OH MY GOD "Song 2 Smack My Bitch Up." It's EXUBERANT.

Fad Gadget – Gag
Robyn Hitchcock stylehopping toward a last-ditch electro cash-in? No, that’s the voice of the late Frank Tovey, on his band’s 1984 album. He and Hitchcock have a similar sarcasto-sneer (“I choke on the gag but I don’t get the joke,” Tovey snidely quips), but Tovey’s calling card was a sort of macabre, electronically tinged danceclubby postpunk (Joy Division? Art of Noise? Nick Cave?) that, like the Soft Boys’ Underwater Moonlight, manages to perfectly represent its place in history and find a comfortable position among 2002’s most time-specific records.

Queen of Japan, “I Was Made For Loving You”
More than just a novelty cover, “I Was Made” takes a disco-metal monstrosity and turns it into a sexy torch-ballad with a bittersweet low-alto croon. Koneko’s bitten-back, reserved, exhausted-woman-at-the-hotel-bar romanticism is a million stretch-limos away from Paul Stanley’s sweaty-balled, hairy-chested come-on.

Plastics, various tracks
Not Tracy and the Plastics, but rather the early ‘80s Japanese no wave/new wave band that appeared in Downtown 81. They’ve been called “the Japanese Devo” (cuz all American-sounding Japanese artists are “the Japanese _____”), and in fact the Plastics’ unlikely country/western undercurrent reminds me of the freakishly prefab ranch in the “Whip It” video. “Digital Watch” combines the arcade-game silliness of Devo’s “Snowball” (or “Jerkin’ Back and Forth”) with the slow-and-steady motorvatin’ groove of Neu!’s opening track, and adds to that an almost LiLiPUTian sense of playtime cheer.