EMPEROR NORTON RECORDS
Takako Minekawa is one of a new breed of DJ/ musicians making a cool, less dance-floor-on-drugs, more sing-along-and-bob-your-head-in-the-car version of electronic music. It's not that you can't dance or space out to her freaky tunes; it's just that they're cloaked in a sugarcoated, pop-soul vibe, and the beats are groovin' but far from block-rockin'. Minekawa's Casios and Roland drum machines sound like Fisher-Price toys being pushed to the limit, and that effect leaves its funky charm—just a shade this side of silliness—all over Fun 9. The song "Fantastic Voyage" starts off with an ominous, James Earl Jones-sounding voice spouting lines such as "When your father-in-law calls you tomorrow morning, do not go to him/He plans to kill you and make you into medicine" over a simple pitter-patter drumbeat. It reads weird, but she pulls it off smoothly and segues easily into the next movement, which features her whisper/ chirp voice singing the colored girls' part of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side." The quieter moments of the album are mostly airy, squeaky, sometimes a bit too minimalistic breathers, amidst spastic romps like "Plash," "Etoufee" and the bumping, phat bass-lined (played, not sampled, thank you very much) "Spin Spider Spin." Minekawa's secret is her craft—she's not just a cut-and-paste DJ; she's a great songwriter, sewing all the oddness together into a unique, giddy pop quilt that's just too wacky to be contrived. And it's damn fun, too. (Michael Coyle)
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STRAIGHT OUTTA BURBANK: THE BOMP! 25TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION
For any lover of early punk or power pop who has found visions of a vanished homeland in a frayed copy of the late-'70s magazine Bomp!, the guitar fest on the first disc of this retrospective from the publication's sister label will make for an equally bittersweet experience. There's an early gem from Peter Case's old band the Breakaways, sounding every bit as frenzied and Lennonesque as he would in the Plimsouls. Nikki & the Corvettes nicely foreshadow the Donnas with 1980's "Summertime Fun." The live, muscular swagger of the Heartbreakers, who actually did do it all for the nookie (and the smack) before anyone ever heard of Fred Durst, is highlighted in "Pirate Love." However, the folks at Bomp! seem hip to the fact that these punked-up Chuck Berry-isms sound merely quaint to the Bizkit-eating masses. Disc two introduces the Bomp! statement for the new millennium —psychedelic mayhem! A very elderly One String Sam plays some sweet 12-bar blues on, yes, one string. Teenyboppers the Pepgirlz grace us not with school spirit but with the steamrolling zoological anthem "Hippopotamus." Throw in no less than two songs about pants and a live track from the late self-proclaimed Venusian Sun Ra, and this second disc is quite a different party. But if disc one can rock your world and disc two can turn it into a loopy madhouse, it just proves that the Bomp! family has always known how to make an impression. Now if they'd only get their zine back in print. . . . (Andrew Marcus)