October 1, 2006

Asobi Seksu

Citrus (Friendly Fire Recordings)

Citrus is the latest effort from Brooklyn’s dreamy pop rock outfit, Asobi Seksu. Aptly titled, the album is a rich sensory experience, ranging from sweet pop lament to bitter dirge. Though wrought from nostalgia and loss, Citrus is heartbreakingly hopeful. It’s a dual tribute to love gone wrong and shoe-gaze pop. “Strawberries,” “Thursday” and “Strings,” evoke early 1960s pop with syrupy vocal harmonies that swim over simple crescendoing basslines and a casual snare drum. At other times, the album pays homage to new wave romanticism with soaring synthesizers that propel vocalist Yuki’s saccharine melodies through layers of guitars and distortion in songs like “New Years” and “Nefi + Girly.” Citrus is a springboard album; however, one hopes—for the sake of independent pop rock—that Asobi Seksu prefers to continue enriching pop from the outside in. Especially, if it means giving us more meticulously crafted, perfectly honed pop. —Jenny Miyasaki

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It Came from Beneath the SFC (442 Records)

It Came From Beneath The SFC is Unagi’s answer to crossover (and transcontinental) R&B/hip-hop. Unagi brings the soul of the East Coast to the smoother side of hyphy. He laces the album with lyrics and melody that say life is double-sided but can be pretty damn good when you’re standing on common ground. Saddling up with Linkletterz for the first vocal track “Stay Focused,” you ask whether the rhyme or the beat came first. The two work succinctly as though destined to jump start the lyrical side of the album. The jazzy instrumental, “Rolling Ronnie,” conjures up a sexy retro, yet perverse, dark-side. Finally, he hands over the spotlight to a rhythmic poem delivered by Melina Jones who magically channels Jill Scott and Bahamadia, a delectable duo. Unagi earns East and West Coast props for fusing soulful instrumentals with grin-worthy vocal tracks into one tight piece of work. —Felicia Mowll

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Barrel Men (self-released)

The hip-hop world has accepted and elevated Filipinos’ status as DJs but not the Pinoy MC. With Barrel Men, the LA/San Francisco Bay Area Pinoy trio (MC’s Bambu and Kiwi with DJ Phatrick) Native Guns might just shatter that barrier. Native Guns hit hard with revolutionary raps that compare favorably with Dead Prez and The Coup: 1/3 fuck the system, 1/3 Filipino identity, and 1/3 buckin’ shots. The contrasting styles of Bambu and Kiwi (think AK-47 vs. Glock) keep the sound fresh. They even drop some verses in their native Filipino tongues, yet avoid trenching themselves as strictly Pinoy, seeking common ground with all minorities. Even when the flow gets uneven and the stories a little far-fetched, tight production by DJ Rhettmatic (Beat Junkies) and others keeps it moving on what you’re reminded is a freshman effort. All in all, Native Guns has successfully blasted their message; the question is, are we ready to
hear it? —Vivek Sridharan

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Something Real (Doghouse)

This Korean American sisters-fronted Salt Lake City Top 40 karaoke pop rock outfit makes me want to swandive out of my fifth story window and splatter paint my drama queen frown onto the concrete sidewalk. They’re THAT good at what they do. Words such as “I can’t go on...I’m lost and way to make you stay” over acoustic ballads, post-emo indie riffs, frail bridges that explode into the uplifting chorus (that’s when you jump) topped with polished production, ready this prefab band to open for Avril Lavigne or whoever the #%* is at the top of the pops these days. Hatched and nurtured in karaoke bars, Meg & Dia lure you in with clean, strong voices backed by their very own stencil-traced songs. Please note the beauorgeous falsetto on “Setting Up Sunday” and climb back into your room off of the ledge. It’s Saturday! —Rudy Beredo


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