Thursday, February 19, 2009

Japanese Pop-tacular!

Japanese pop is having a moment right now and a couple of great songs have crossed my ears this week.

First up it's "Parachute" by Shugo Tokomaru (courtesy of this month's Paste Sampler.) There is something totally infectious and adorable about this song, which is heavy on the bells/xylophone and yet somehow manages to remind me of Sondre Lerche's excellent Dan in Real Life soundtrack at the same time. (A soundtrack I absolutely loved, if you recall.) Tokumaru hails from Tokyo and has a new album out right now called Exit.

Next up is the LA-based Fol Chen. You can listen to their song "No Wedding Cake" on NPR Music. The band's goal of making people dance seems like a good bet in this single, which has some Of Montreal elements blended in with the Japanese-sounding bells/xylophone again. For more Fol Chen, check out their Myspace page.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

UK Top 40

I was listening to the UK Top 40 charts on BBC1 this week and a couple of songs caught my ear.

The Script is an Irish band - their "Break Even" is an instantly likeable pop gem, combining the emotive lyrical power of Howie Day with just a touch of R. Kelly-style r&b/funk in the rhythm.

Also, remember this name: Aussie Daniel Merriweather has collaborated with Mark Ronson and opened for Justin Timberlake and Kanye West - he has his own album coming out in April. His "Change" is in the UK Top 10 this week and it reveals an impeccable blend of British neo-soul (replete with a horn arrangement) and r&b/rap. ("Change" features rapper Wale.) This sound is perfectly fresh, sure to be a big hit in 2009. Remember, you heard it here first.