Posts from 10th July 2001

10
Jul 01

PUFFY AMIYUMI – “Boogie Woogie No. 5”

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PUFFY AMIYUMI – “Boogie Woogie No. 5”

Two young Japanese girls, stumbling around a stark white film set in torn jeans and sneakers (among many other outfits), with boys dancing around them in khakis, and a pale imitation of a Gene Krupa drumbeat bounding about in the background. No, this isn’t the newest Gap commercial – it’s the video for the newest single from Japanese pop duo Puffy AmiYumi. “Puffy AmiYumi,” says their website bio, “are more than just a chart-topping pop group. Much, much more. They are, quite simply, a cultural phenomenon.” In Japan.

I’m still not sure why MuchMusic has taken to showing this video every so often, but I’m grateful. (If anything, it’s one more reason why the Canadian MTV has it all over the American version.) The song itself isn’t much to crow about – imagine Lou Bega’s “Mambo No. 5” (surely, you remember Lou!) cheesed up with Casio trumpets and other teen-pop production trinkets, and then essayed by two pixieish Japanese girls, barking the lyrics like pep squad castoffs trying to audition for the team while locked in the janitor’s closet. It’s an out-of-touch focus group’s version of Pizzicato 5 – all the superficial aspects (the beats, the attitude, the ethnicity), but not one whit of style or panache. It’s a mess, yes, but it’s a glorious mess. Watching the video unfold (or unravel) makes for some choice entertainment, the likes of which can only be found in endeavors that strive for something just not quite in reach.

The really funny thing, however, is that someone, somewhere, thinks that THIS is the single that will break the group. In North America. According to the official Puffy AmiYumi website, their album (Spike) was released on this side of the ocean in the past month. (At least, in Canada – no word on a US release date, unfortunately.) More spelunking reveals surprise after surprise. Stations in St. Louis and San Jose are charting this thing at #1? CMJ is charting this thing, too? There’s a review of this album at PITCHFORK? Oh, boy. I can only imagine what praise critic Spencer Owen spread on his side of the toast:


“…upon listening to their fifth LP and first U.S.-released effort, Spike, it isn’t too hard to imagine why they’re so popular. There’s not a single second of art to be found.”

Well, hey, now – if you’re in the mood to admire art, why the hell are you shopping at Target?

PS – I do recommend sneaking over to the Puffy AmiYumi site and checking out the sound samples of the album (assuming you are Shockwave-compliant, that is). If you can only click on one track, I recommend mousing over “Love So Pure”, a track (in English, for you folks in the audience suffering from mild xenophobia) that screams P!O!P! in the way that the best Posies & Big Star songs do. I would not be surprised to learn that this is one of the tracks former Jellyfish Andy Sturmer – their “godfather” – helped birth. That’s right – TRACKS. Tracks with big guitars, big drums, and big melodies ripped from the fakebook of your favorite pop group (whether they be dodgy or upstanding). The snippets from the website sound glorious. Get clicking.

FROM THE EDITOR

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(Some old FT editorials resurrected from the archives for you…)

July 10, 2001

My illustrious publisher is currently off enjoying himself in the company of Greek goats (or something like that), so here’s a brief note saying that a variety of new articles are on the boil or being pieced over as I type. A full new FT update will be along in two weeks’ time — at least if I have anything to say about it, and why not, I’m the editor and all. In the meantime, however, please enjoy the latest entry to POP: ART, an interview with Fosca’s Dickon Edwards. As always, comments are welcome!

July 24, 2001

A few updates this time around! No new Third Door or POP: ART — new ones will be along soon! — but we’ve got the first FT article by Mark Sinker, regular denizen of our associated I Love Music and I Love Everything boards. His piece on Simon and Garfunkel was originally posted on the first board and here appears in an revised form. In the meantime, there’s two pieces from me — the first, my semi-long-threatened piece on Tool’s Lateralus and the state of being obsessed and lost in a record, the second the first of some planned pieces on summer and music, in this case my experiences of outdoor rock festivals. As always, comments are welcome!

September 4, 2001

*blows away cobwebs* Right, where were we? I went on vacation and then everything went into a haze. Fret not, though, we have some new articles in the pipeline, as well as upcoming news on New York London Paris Munich. What news is that? Can’t give away everything now, can I? But don’t fear, though there’s only one article this time around, it’s a mighty fine one, with Jess Harvell making his FT debut with a great discussion of the life and work of Arthur Russell. If you’ve heard the name but not much more, here’s a chance to learn not merely more about him but how the accepted historical record doesn’t always tell the full story. As always, feedback is welcome!

September 13, 2001

There was going to be a different sort of update on September 11. You can imagine why it didn’t go up (all regular FT contributors who live in NYC are well, thanks). A slew of articles next Tuesday — in the meantime, donate and, if you like, read my piece on Arvo Pärt’s “Cantus.”

September 24, 2001

Ah, delays. But understandable ones, my heart and head was somewhere else for a while and may still be there for a bit — I can but watch and wait. Life continues, though, and so here you’ll find three new articles — David Raposa’s reflection on the MTV Video Music Awards, Fred Solinger’s take on Mercury Rev’s new album All is Dream and my own review of that album and plenty of others from bands that have made it to the ten year mark and in one case well beyond that. Hug a friend, do something nice, use your brain, and as always your feedback is very welcome.

October 30, 2001

Things percolate and ponder, and somewhere over the horizon a new Focus Group looms…but that’ll happen in its good time. Right now, welcome the debut of Anthony Easton, talking about Bran Van 3000’s new album Discosis in ways that make me want to track down this sucker ASAP. Elsewhere, esteemed founder and overlord Tom Ewing makes his case for the best voices you’ll hear in music in recent times, while I come right out and say it — voices are great, but I really don’t need the lyrics to enjoy things. Think that’s heresy? By all means, e-mail me about that or anything else on your mind!

December 4, 2001

A long-delayed update of articles is also the cue for an announcement — the founder and publisher of the site, Tom Ewing, is set to take over the reins again as full-time editor. I was terribly flattered to be asked to run the site earlier this year and hope to have lived up to FT’s long-established standards during my time in the hot seat, though certainly I wish some more of my plans had panned out (not least of which is POP:ART — I swear, I’ll focus more on it now, really!). I do thank everyone for all the kind comments I’ve received, and Tom most of all for giving me the chance in the first place!

In any event, I’ll send you all off with a bang, namely four equally different and equally inspired pieces. Tim Finney uses the new Jan Jelinek album to reflect on the state of glitch, while Jess Harvell gathers his thoughts on the Piano Magic singles collection and David Raposa considers what might or might not have changed ten years on from Nirvana. Perhaps most impressive of all, though, is Marcello Carlin’s review of Pulp’s excellent We Love Life, here republished from its original appearance two months ago on the I Love Music forum. Hope you enjoy them all! Whatever Tom has up his sleeve next, it’s bound to be something good.