Samantha Culp

Rockers & Romancers

Just a little sonic something for Valentine’s Day: “Rockers & Romancers,” a mix of luscious, vintage Jamaican rocksteady and soul. Lovingly collected by L.A. musician Spencer Dunham (of The Allah-lahs, another great recent discovery) when he was working the discount reggae bins at Amoeba Records, these tracks are a subdued tropical caress to a fevered or broken heart. Extra reverb makes them extra dreamy. Preview Tony Gregory’s stunning “Human” here – which at first sounds like it could be a rework of “Moon River” or “Sleepwalk” but then turns into something beautiful and new:

Human – Tony Gregory

Download the compilation here: Rockers & Romancers

Two bonus tidbits:

“The Bus Driver’s Face” – a short, mysterious Valentine’s Day story in translation from Jing Xianghai (鯨向海), Taiwanese poet, essayist and psychiatrist (via Asymptote Journal)

– A campy cover of The Cure’s classic “Lovesong,” as performed in a Bangkok bathtub by the effortlessly-fabulous Gene Kasidit (formerly of Bangkok’s defunct electro sensation Futon)

Vacant World, Jacks (1968)

A track for the impending autumn, from influential yet short-lived Japanese band Jacks. More on their history here.

“からっぽの世界”, ジャックス, 1968
(“Vacant World,” Jacks, 1968)

03 からっぽの世界

Iranian Funk

Farah-Googoosh-oldtimes

Currently up at NPR is a great mini-set of 70s Iranian funk, collected by Egon of Stones Throw Records. It’s part of their ongoing Funk Archaeology series, and features tracks by some folks I’ve never heard (like the sitar-and-Afrobeat-infused Mehr Pooya and beach-psych-y Kourosh Yagmhei) as well as my old favorite, Googoosh (or Googoush, or گوگوش, all of which apparently mean “Swanhawk,” which is extra cool).

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Street Legal

Yesterday up at Gulou, I finally got around to buying the new albums by Hedgehog (just released) and Ourself Beside Me (came out in January)… Only to discover a few hours later via the salivating tweets of more media-savvy Beijingren that Google China had just launched its free mp3 service, which, of course, happens to feature both albums.

Oh well – still nice to support an actual music shop, and made an additional purchase of some Cui Zi’en (崔子恩) DVDs I haven’t seen around before. A few years ago at HKIFF, Thai director Pen-ek Ratanaruang described to me his first exposure to Cui’s films as something like this: “I put on the tape, and was watching it until I felt I had to turn it off, but then I couldn’t turn it off… it’s so bad that it’s fascinating, and then it becomes interesting.” Intense paraphrasing going on there, but it sticks in my mind as fairly apt. The weird, self-conscious crappiness in the aesthetic and tone of “Withered in the Blooming Season” is kind of amazing.

The Hedgehog and Ourself Beside Me albums are available for streaming and download below. (Legally! Though the concept of something that is both “digital” and “legal” in China is still confusing to me.) I’m still making my way through them…

OBMHedge

Ourself Beside Me “Ourself Beside Me”
(Loving the Rundgren/Barrett-by-way-of-Lisa-Frank cover art; also I’m amazed that they actually did use ‘Ourself Beside Me’ as the official name on it – they had barely decided it while my THEME article on them was going to press)

Hedgehog “Blue Day Dreaming”
(I wish time machines existed just so that Hedgehog could travel back to 1993 to appear on 120 Minutes, and we could now watch it on grainy Youtube VHS capture…)