Tag Archives: Love and Hates

Review: Love And Hates’ L.A.H.

L.A.H. does something few Japanese albums can – divide. Folks who follow the Japanese music scene – especially the indie community, to which Love And Hates members Yuppa (of HNC) and Moe (of Miila And The Geeks) certainly belong – rarely get riled up about anything. People have differing opinions sure, and it isn’t like everyone laps up whatever sonic water dish gets placed in front of them, but rarely does something inspire real critical venom (ignoring obvious J-Pop targets – hating AKB48 or Arashi are certainly justifiable, but also as predictable as hating Nickelback).

Love And Hates though…these two can fire people up. Coke Machine Glow’s Mark Abraham gave them the “Extra Special Yeah Award For The Best Hip-Hop-Ish Album Of The Year” and placed L.A.H. in his personal top ten list, going as far as to compare them to the “most commercial parts of OOIOO” which isn’t faint praise. Yet I also know people…names withheld…who hate this album and everything Love And Hates do. This isn’t a simple “not my thing, sorry dude” but rather a reaction like this album is an affront to music. Abraham also notes how he thinks his “colleagues would have laughed at it and then laughed at me” and then questioned whether it was hip-hop or “a fucking joke.” Hell, this thing came out more than two months ago but the stuff going on in this record deserve some sort of write-up.

Thing is, this album doesn’t seek to stir anything up (though, it sort of does at the same time, maybe unknowingly). It’s the side project from two of the smartest minds in Japanese indie music at the moment, one of them responsible for one of the most hairs-raised-on-skin songs of 2011 (HNC’s “I Dream I Dead”) and our favorite album of the past year (Miila And The Geek’s New Age. Here, they put on Burger King crowns and dig out kazoos from their toy chests to make something I’ve seen described as “twee crunk.” For them, it is probably a fun diversion from the grimmer material pumped out by their main projects as of late, a chance to make silly songs and pretend to be hip-hop superstars.

Hip-hop. Those two syllables hit on why I think people loathe…or are at least skittish…around Love And Hates. Just reread some of the ways I described these two – “twee crunk,” kazoos, goofy outfits. Sounds like joke rap, right? And very few things in the world are worse than fucking joke rap. Have you ever listened to Goldie Lookin Chain? Don’t. Love And Hates frequently sound on the verge of cuing up Keyboard Cat and revealing this project to be a gag, the majority of L.A.H. finding the two “rapping” over beats choking with twee signposts. On the track “Party Trash,” they kick off the tune with a chopped-n-screwed vocal declaring “WE LOVE ICE CREAM VERY MUCH.” To be totally honest, I understand why someone would be suspicious of all this.

I don’t think it’s a punchline, though. What makes most joke rap infuriating is the implication that rap as a whole is a joke, that it’s all “thugs” and “hoes” and “bling” and other buzzwords the Parent’s Television Council probably throw around. Joke rap paints hip-hop as not being “serious” music, which is why acoustic covers of songs like “Bitches Ain’t Shit” sound so irritating – not only is it a big ironic “ha ha, look what I am doing here,” it also hints at rap being inauthentic because…there aren’t real instruments? This sort of music can fuck right off.

Love And Hates aren’t poking fun at hip-hop though. If anything, L.A.H. sounds like an album that respects rap music, its creators wanting to give it a shot the way they know how. It reminds me of how other elements of Western culture sometimes get remade to an extreme in Japan – see the McDonald’s Japan menu, or KFC for Christmas. Only one track on this LP comes close to being joke rap – “Money,” which is about the titular subject and veers a little too close to Larry The Cable Guy jab, and ends up the worst number here because of it. Everything else, though, sounds like a rap sandbox. The chopped-n-screwed intro of “Party Trash” just a cool vocal delivery to Love And Hates, the “London Bridge Is Falling Down” portion of the title track a bit of fun no worse than, say, Jibbs. The same goes for “Eeny Meeny” and the jump-rope chant of “Wooper Looper.” Love And Hates aren’t laughing at hip-hop, they are laughing with it by interpreting the sound of hip-hop through Love And Hates.

And they interpret it as a good time. L.A.H. is above all else a really fun record, one that’s tempting to dissect in order to find a nice, gooey thinkpiece but really just wants you to get stupid for a little bit. For God’s sakes, Love And Hates recruit Hideki Kaji to play this guy in their indie-pop cover of The Muppet Show classic “Mahna Mahna.” It’s silly yeah and nowhere approaching Ghostface territory. But rap is full of silly characters and songs. What Love And Hates do really isn’t that ridiculous, and hardly a mockery of rap.

(Quick aside that couldn’t really fit anywhere else – “The Drum” is just a great slice of tropical pop, and almost feels out of place here. Best song on the album, but also the most out of place.)

It’s strange that L.A.H. seems to push people’s buttons, because this is an album that is pretty upfront about it being a fun escape. I wouldn’t go as far to say they resemble OOIOO in anyway, but Love And Hates’ debut release is a fun little collection of songs that are certainly goofy, but endearingly so. Really, more artists in Japan need to be like Love And Hates – unafraid to try something that on paper seems ridiculous and bound for ridicule, but somehow works in the end.

Moscow Club Remixes Love And Hates’ “Party Trash”

I’ve been thinking a lot about Love And Hates recently, mostly whether I want to write a review of their debut album despite the fact it came out the first week of December. It certainly isn’t a timely album, but it’s one of the few Japanese releases in recent memory that really divides people, some people raving about it while I’ve heard others spit complete snake venom at it. Something worth discussing I think – meanwhile, here’s something that shouldn’t offend anybody! Moscow Club remixes Love And Hates’ “Party Trash” for a remix contest the duo are currently holding. The Club drops all of the elements of the original that I think prove problematic to people – the chopped-and-screwed intro gets nudged aside and all the elements one could construe as “hip-hop coated in Fun Dip” are replaced for a synth-heavy explosion. Opening with what could be sounds from a literal party, this version focuses on brightness over beats, the original vocals snaking their way around the glowing tangles, sometimes awkwardly. Listen below.

Christmas Music Round-Up: Love And Hates, Twee Grrrls Club, Cubismo Grafico, EeL

It’s Christmas Eve in Japan, and a handful of artists are getting into the spirit with special sonic holiday gifts or mixes. Rap-happy duo Love And Hates celebrate the most wonderful time of the year in typical Love And Hates fashion – by covering a song called “I Wanna Kill.” To their credit, they add plenty of bells and yule-tide glee to the Crocodiles tune, making this track seem at least a little Christmasey. Download it for free here, or listen below.

Yuppa and Moe of Love And Hates also shared some of their favorite twee-leaning Christmas tunes over at the Twee Grrrls Club blog, along with the other members of the club. Check that out here. Member Sumire also made a holiday mix, which you can listen to hear.

Sticking in Tokyo, Cubismo Grafico put together a special collection of cover songs from a variety of artists. You can download this special collection here for free.

Last, pop spazz EeL thanks everyone who supported her over this year with a free song entitled “Snow World Under The White Moon.” It’s very nice. Get it here, and also trip out to the Rudolph footage playing in the background.

Happy holiday from Make Believe Melodies, may it be great for you! Thank you for reading.

Music Alliance Pact December 2011

Time flies huh? Feels like yesterday I just started contributing to the Music Alliance Pact – which brings together more than 30 blogs from around the world to share great music from far-flung places – and here we are with the final MAP of 2011. To round out the year, we’ve selected Love And Hates as the Japanese act for December’s MAP. The twee-crunk duo, featuring Yuppa of HNC and Moe of Miila and The Geeks, have been having a pretty busy month – first, their debut album L.A.H. dropped, and just this week excellent music web site (my personal favorite) CokeMachineGlow named said album the “Extra Special Yeah Award for the Best Hip-Hop-ish Album of the Year.” Enjoy the song “Party Trash” and a slew of great music from around the globe below.

Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a .zip file of the whole 36-track compilation via MediaFire.

JAPAN: Make Believe Melodies
Love And HatesParty Trash
Love And Hates is a collaboration between Yuppa and Moe, two of the best indie artists in Japan today, from HNC and Miila And The Geeks respectively. Love And Hates finds them teaming up to make rap music with indie-pop touches, or kindergarten hip-hop as they dubbed it. Party Trash, with its cutesy chopped-and-screwed intro and solid structure, is not a lame dorm-room joke but rather a fun, appreciative stab at the genre. UGK they are not, but they still feel like a blast.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
The Empire Of The MoonTransition
The Empire Of The Moon is the new project of Juan Sábato, a former member of Brian Storming, a band that was featured in the first edition of MAP (and, by the way, the grandson of writer Ernesto Sábato). Transition is the first single from The Empire Of The Moon’s just-released debut EP, Saturday Children, for which he wrote all the music, lyrics and beautiful pop arrangements.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Tim FitzThe Line
Tim Fitz is a 21-year-old producer/instrumentalist/singer from Sydney. He put out his first EP, Infinite Space, in March but his latest release, Beforetime, is definitely a rich picking. Some might hear genre spanning and others will hear indecisiveness, but there’s a great feel to this collection of tracks. The Line is a good example of Fitz’s kaleido-instrumentals. Just as the flouncy percussion gets into the proper swing of things, we get bombarded by drive-high fuzz around the one-minute mark. Fitz’s sound is original, but the way he has put his sounds together is still familiar enough to catch on to.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Nana RizinniNice Figure, Dangerous Heart
It’s almost 2012, but listening to this song from singer/drummer Nana Rizinni can take you back to the 90s with an awesome “sounds like The Breeders feeling”. Nice Figure, Dangerous Heart is from her first album, I Said, which is available to download from her website.

CANADA: I(Heart)Music
FeversPassion Is Dead (Long Live Fashion)
Fevers’ debut full-length (which is currently free via Bandcamp) is a wonderful blend of disco-pop and ambient Stars/Young Galaxy-style space-rock. This song, the title track from the album, falls firmly into the former category. It’s five and a half minutes of a glorious, life-affirming, wave-your-arms-in-the-air anthem, and it sets the stage for one of the best albums of the year.

CHILE: Super 45
Tio LuchoIlusión Rebelde
Even though Tio Lucho had an aggressive, non-conformist punk sound when they started, it has developed into a more danceable and, clearly, more passive format. Produced by Chalo González, their new album Innombrable, released through Cazador, has a strong new wave influence. Ilusión Rebelde is its first single.

CHINA: Wooozy
Mini Train HeartJust This Feeling
Formed in 2009, Mini Train Heart is a peculiar band based in Wuhan. The band is noted for their unpredictable drumbeats and manic vocals. Also, you can’t easily tell who their influences are. We recommend you just drown in the lo-fi atmosphere and enjoy their uniquely dry humor in how they see this generation.

DENMARK: All Scandinavian
AnchorlessA Step Too Steep
Comprising members of bands such as Lack, The River Phoenix and The Fashion, indie-rock six-piece Anchorless are currently finishing their debut album, which I assume will be released early-ish next year. Until then dive in, dig and download A Step Too Steep from their six-song eponymous 2010 debut EP, which you can in fact download in full through this link.

ENGLAND: The Guardian Music Blog
Citizens!True Romance (Populette remix)
This is an exclusive remix of the debut single, True Romance, by a London-based five-piece who have just signed to French electronic/indie label Kitsuné. Their debut album, due early next year, has been produced by Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand. The video to the single was directed by LA’s High5Collective, the team behind shorts for The Weeknd and Odd Future. And they believe that “pop is not a dirty word. It’s a holy one”. For Citizens!, pop is something David Bowie did in the 70s – they conflate glam-era Bowie and Bowie in Berlin with some of the tart arrogance of Suede and louche energy of Franz.

Shelton SanWell-Behaved
Noise-rock band Shelton San started rocking the small Estonian indie scene in 2002 and, almost 10 years later, they are stronger than ever, creating massive, raw, hypnotic atmospheres, always polished, but never sterile. In 2006, they received the Estonian Music Award for the best punk/metal artist. Shelton San’s second LP was released on December 12.

Zebra And SnakeBurden
Matti and Tapio, best known as Zebra And Snake, positioned themselves as the next big thing in Finnish electro-pop in 2010 and since then, the duo has been carefully crafting their debut album while playing anywhere from Iceland to Indonesia. Burden, the first single off Healing Music (out in spring 2012), is an epic pop song with a Blood On The Dance Floor beat, analogue electronic hooks and powerful Bowie-esque vocals.

FRANCE: Yet You’re Fired
Marauders formed in the late 80s in Strasbourg, and have been making garage rock ever since, before it was cool and re-popularized by The Black Keys. The quartet, who have released two LPs and appeared in various compilations, play short, edgy songs and are pretty awesome live. Galley-Slave is a sweet, soft-rock ballad that deserves some attention.

GERMANY: Blogpartei
Kraków Loves AdanaSilver Screen
The Black Forest, a myth. Since Kraków Loves Adana come from Freiburg, we can all speculate whether the forest has its influence or not. Hence, the sound of this duo is outstanding. The voice of Deniz Cicek is remarkably dark and complex, the use of the instruments is deliberate, creating deep and slightly ominous songs. Silver Screen is a MAP exclusive from their upcoming second album, which will be released in early 2012.

GREECE: Mouxlaloulouda
2L8Let It Go
A collective led by K the Clown and comprised of talented Greek musicians, 2L8 is a bold and electrifying project that has come to be categorized by their radical stylistic shifts between albums. New Battles, Without Honor And Humanity is packed with feverous instrumental intensity and florid arrangements based on bursting guitars, pounding drums, subtle and luminous climaxes, dramatic strings and brass, hypnotically simple melodies, inner monologues and trembling, frantically passionate vocals, desperate and bleak lyrics about resistance, equity, freedom, love and equality coupled with a sense of hope.

ICELAND: Rjóminn
Low RoarFriends Make Garbage, Good Friends Take It Out
Low Roar is the personal project of Ryan Karazija who, almost two years ago, moved from San Francisco to Reykjavík to follow the love of his life. His self-titled debut chronicles the challenges of starting anew in a foreign land and the struggles to acclimatize, find work and support his family in the Icelandic winter. Friends Make Garbage, Good Friends Take It Out, one of the highlights of the album, is a haunting, emotive and slightly melancholic song with a melody that will undoubtedly keep playing in your head long after the song is over.

INDONESIA: Deathrockstar
Stars And RabbitWorth It
Stars And Rabbit are probably one of this country’s most promising indie acts. The duo mix some soul from Joan Baez, the cuteness of Lisa Mitchell and the playful touch of Björk to produce catchy, beautiful pop songs.

IRELAND: Nialler9
Come On Live LongElephants And Time
Formed last year, Come On Live Long have picked up a steady pace in no time as evident on the release of their latest EP entitled Mender. They make far-reaching alternative songs with considerable melodies, synths and a strong singular sound. Production by Nouveaunoise electronic maestro Conor Gaffney helps too. Ones to watch.

ITALY: Polaroid
Distanti sing in Italian, but even if you don’t speak our old and praiseworthy language, I’m sure you’ll understand – in fact, you will totally feel the way Distanti tear up their post-punk sound. Visceral. Urgent. Clever. They just released a new EP, Mamba Nero, which you can get at To Lose La Track. And try to catch Distanti live, they’re amazing.

MALTA: Stagedive Malta
nosnow/noalpsFar Into The Night (Without You)
nosnow/noalps began its journey over mountainous terrain in early 2007 with their poppy indie-rock seasoned with punk, reggae and ska. Soon after, the quartet hit the live circuit with an energy and force comparable to an avalanche at a Swiss ski resort. The band’s first EP, Just Rock, came out in 2008 and they released their debut album, Romantikpolitik, this August.

MEXICO: Red Bull Panamérika
3Ball MTYRitmo Alterado
The city of Monterrey, in northern Mexico, is struggling in a war against drug-mafias: despite the violent context, a new musical genre is rising thanks to 3Ball MTY. Led by veteran electro-cumbia DJ Toy Selectah and a crew of skillful producers in their early 20s, the collective have created a new sound by merging polka, reggaeton and acid-tribal-techno. But the most peculiar thing about this trend is the style of dancing – like dodging bullets – while wearing ultra-long pointy boots. Curious? Just google ‘Pointy Mexican Boots’.

NETHERLANDS: Unfold Amsterdam
An alternative to the schmaltz of typical Christmas sounds, enjoy a dose of Spoelstra. He’s a collaborator with Dutch experimental label Narrominded, which specialises in all sorts of fantastic non-profitable sounds, from full-on noise rock to electronic warbles. And Spoelstra is a perfect fit, as he’s proven capable of both. His latest album Pallets was released earlier in the year. Packaged as a cassette and a book about everything you can imagine about pallets, it showcases a full rack of effects and a wonky mind. Part chip tune, part drunken country improv, part toy noise, this uneasiness is how Santa feels come Boxing Day.

NEW ZEALAND: Einstein Music Journal
The EversonsI’m A Conservative
Fronted by Mark Turner (ex-Little Pictures) and with Chris Young (Insurgents, No Aloha), Tim Shann and Blair Everson, The Eversons have a crisp, clear garage-rock vibe that strongly recalls Art Brut and American college rock with its undeniable catchiness and the immediate satisfaction this brings. With classic guitar riffs and day-in-the-life-style lyrics, their debut five-song EP is instantly likeable. This is one of those bands that doesn’t muck around, delivering a top-class release very early in their career, which makes us excited about future things to come from them.

NORWAY: Birds Sometimes Dance
SunturnsHallelujah (Christmas Is Here!)
Sunturns can perhaps be labeled an indie supergroup – or not just an indie super group, but a Christmas indie supergroup. It’s something as rare as a full-time Christmas band and is comprised of some of the best musicians from the Oslo indie scene, with members from bands such as mylittlepony, Monzano and The Little Hands of Asphalt. They sing about both the nice and the more melancholic sides of Christmas. Their debut album, cleverly titled Christmas, is out now.

Gris VoltaYou Go Behind The Truth
Formed at the beginning of 2008, Gris Volta have too many influences to place the band into one genre – you can find anything from indie-rock to jazz themes and experimental music in their songs. Their debut record Monochrome is without doubt one of the best Peruvian albums released this year.

PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Julie & The CarjackersMr Williams
One year ago, Julie & The Carjackers released their debut EP. Now the first album by João Correia (vocals, guitar, percussion) and Bruno Pernadas (guitar), with the help of some friends (none of them called Julie), is available. Parasol has been warmly welcomed by Portuguese press and blogs as a surprising and refreshing debut in the local indie scene.

ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
AbsurdcusPuppy Slippers
Absurdcus is the solo project of Transylvanian bass player/multi-instrumentalist Laszlo Demeter. His music has been a continuous work in progress since 2003, when he first started recording bits and pieces under this pseudonym. His music stylistically ranges from alternative rock and funk to electronica and even metal. You can download his debut album here.

RUSSIA: Big Echo
ArktorPier ft. Didjelirium
Just like the original story by Philip K. Dick, Arktor’s album Retreat Syndrome recreates the atmosphere of madness and insanity, combining truth and despair with the skills of his mate, jazz pianist Ilz. Pier is recorded with a special guest, Shanghai rapper Didjelirium.

Café DiscoTerra Nova
I’ll never forget the first time I heard Terra Nova by Glasgow-based newcomers Café Disco. It was on a shaky YouTube clip filmed in June 2011 during one of the band’s earliest gigs. “Contains the peachiest guitar riff I’ve heard in ages” is how I described the song on my blog back then – and that verdict hasn’t changed with this studio recording, which was funded by The Pop Cop for the sole purpose of giving it away through the Music Alliance Pact, together with this rather fun promo video.

SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
SonicbratBed Of Forty Winks
Sonicbrat is the enduring moniker of sound artist Darren Ng, whose work is characterised by an intricate tapestry of field recordings and found sounds, strung together by subtly processed acoustic instrumentation with a classical bent. Gentle, stirring and complex, Ng’s music is the sort that invites itself into and comfortably inhabits one’s imagination. His latest release, Hana, is his musing on the life of a flowering plant and is available as a free download on the Totokoko label.

SOUTH AFRICA: Musical Mover & Shaker!
The FrownThe National (Yesterday’s Pupil remix)
The Frown makes a curious mixture of folk and electronica. With their song The National, Yesterday’s Pupil’s remix adds a special touch to it, with a heady mix of soaring strings and orchestration, low tempo colliding beats, dark and menacing basslines and the fragile yet commanding vocals of Eve Rakow. Ethereal and enigmatic, it’s one of the year’s most exciting songs.

Kim Mok InScene
Kim Mok In started out as the guitarist of playful lo-fi folk quartet Cabinet Singalongs over a decade ago. This month he released his first solo album, Song Of Musician’s-self, with an updated sound and better production that still shouldn’t leave any old fan disappointed. Scene is a song about the Korean music scene which finds Kim Mok In’s voice and guitar accompanied by a sturdy piano.

SPAIN: Musikorner
Doble PletinaCruzo Los Dedos
Doble Pletina, a five-piece from Barcelona, were born from the ashes of Abrevadero (a one-of-a-kind cover band that would play songs of almost any genre). Thanks to their simple yet carefully crafted melodies and everyday life-inspired emotional lyrics – as in their latest single Cruzo Los Dedos – they have broken into the city’s local independent scene. They are, basically, what we would expect from a good indie-pop band.

SWEDEN: Swedesplease
Let’s Say We DidGalaxies
If your idea of Swedish music is something exotic like Lykki Li, First Aid Kit, Little Dragon and/or Jens Lekman, the music of Let’s Say We Did might surprise you. On the whole, the new record hews closer to Big Star meets Wilco dad-rock than the drum and bass electronica music coming out of Sweden of late. Sebastian Fors is one of the main men behind the band. He has been contributing to the Swedish music scene for a few years in multiple projects. Let’s Say We Did’s new self-titled album, though, is some of the best stuff I’ve heard from him.

Alejandro JiménezDie Fragestellung In Frage Stellen
Alejandro Jiménez is actually more poetry slam than singer-songwriting. He also had the honour of playing in the most famous theater in Switzerland for cabaret artists. On his second record, Nabelschau, he recorded 11 songs which have one thing in common: they’re raw and personal.

Toz Ve TozKara Mamba
Founded in November 2007, Toz Ve Toz make experimental songs that combine elements of jazz, surf, punk and Turkish classical music. The trio use guitar, synthesizer, drums, harmonica and bağlama – a Turkish instrument with three double strings. They have released two albums – the first featured music for a theatre play called Sahici İnsanlar Plastik Ölümler (“Real People Plastic Deaths”) in 2009; the second is a home recording called Ev/Home. Their third album will be released from their own record label soon.

UNITED STATES: I Guess I’m Floating
Philadelphia’s Gracie is an intriguing project to say the least. There is bedroom pop and garage rock, but the vibes coming from Gracie match more of a bomb shelter banger sound. Haunting, effervescent, glitchy, mesmerizing echoes, and driving beats that propel your ears forward straight through tangles of sonic cobwebs. Can’t wait to snag this unique release via Small Plates soon.


Bonus video for Love And Hates’ “Kung-Fu Ripping.”

Listen To Cuts From Love And Hates’ Debut Album Now

L.A.H, the self-titled debut album from Tokyo twee-crunk duo Love And Hates, comes out in early December, but you can hear four tracks from HNC and Moe’s (Miila And The Geeks) rappy project now. The concept behind Love And Hates might seem offsetting at first – rap music done by two Japanese women fond of the slide whistle and candy – but the entire act rises above the usual toilet-bowl quality joke rap because HNC and Moe aren’t having a laugh at hip-hop. No white dudes sporting guitars or dipshit irony flowing out from LA dipsticks. Love And Hates take rap and pretty much just have fun with the genre instead of making the same jokes rock bands have been making for 25 years. On the preview tracks, the duo embrace a party-starting attitude that leans heavily on shoutable choruses sprinkled with goofy touches, as on the album’s title track which swerves into “London Bridge” at various points. The closest Love And Hates come to approaching a “can’t spell crap without rap” bumper sticker is on “Money,” which finds them spitting about wanting lots of money, boys, candy and more money. Though it can be a little eye rolling at times, the duo don’t seem smug about it and mostly exude fun – and the production sounds good, which helps covers up the weak parts.

Best part, though, seems to be that Love And Hates convinced Hideki Kaji to guest on the song “Mahna Mahna” as the role of the bearded nonsense-mumbler from The Muppet Show sketch. That’s a grab if I’ve ever seen one. Listen to the tracks here.

Love And Hates Prep An Album, Seemingly Cover That One Song From The Muppet Show

It still amazes me that my introduction to HNC and Moe (of Miila And The Geeks) was through their twee-crunk project Love And Hates. Back in the halcyon days of 2009, I never would have guessed the two women rapping over cat noises while wearing mis-matched leg warmers and what might have been Burger King crowns would eventually be responsible for a potential song of the year candidate (HNC’s trippy “I Dream I Dead“) and the best Japanese album I’ve heard in 2011 (Miila And The Geeks New Age). Those two releases sorta explain Love And Hates a bit more, though – both of them have matured as artists but LAHs gives them a place to indulge in the more wacky stuff that at least HNC really dug back in the day.

So, to cap off a banner year for both artists, Love And Hates have a proper album coming out in December. That’s the trailer for the album up top, and it features all the kazoo-tastic highlights including “Party Trash” and personal favorite “The Drum.” There also appears to be a lot of new stuff – and, at this moment, I should note that the prospect of more than half-an-hour of Love And Hates is quite daunting – including what sounds like a cover/reworking of “Manamanah” from The Muppet Show. Mark your calendars now.

New Merpeoples: “Ikenai Rouge Magic”

None of this computes whatsoever. Young Tokyo Band who released a good albeit far from overwhelming mini-album in 2010 returns the following year by covering a wretch-worthy J-Rock song from the 80s. They handle said slab of cheese pretty carefully, delivering a version of this two-decades-old tune that simultaneously hovers closely to the source material AND ends up something entirely different (I swear this makes sense). Along the way, the Young Tokyo Band manages to turn some other old group’s single into a summary of their sonic calling card by flipping said style on its head a bit. Doesn’t make sense, right, even after I urged you it did two sentences ago? Nothing about Merpeoples covering “Ikenai Rouge Magic” should, yet it sounds so so good.

Imawano Kyosiro and Ryuuichi Sakamoto’s “Ikenai Rouge Magic” came out in 1982, and stands as a weird intersection between synth-heavy New Wave and banal J-Rock. This version, presumably the proper single version given the video, gives us two dudes pushing the boundaries of “creative singing” showing us what David Bowie would be like if he hated the world with a passion. Call me a cynical child of the 90s who laughed when his dad bought A Flock Of Seagulls best-of CD, but this song blows. Yet lets focus attention on this live video of “Rouge Magic.”

Kyosiro and Sakamoto mangle their already lame song. The singing runs Mott The Hoople through a meat grinder, the guitar solo seems even more pointless and they add an air of lounge-ness to the whole affair with bongos. It’s extra bad, and it also seems to be the version of “Rouge Magic” Merpeoples set out to recreate on their take. Let me get the most glaring difference between the two versions out of the way – the vocals on Merpeoples’ “Rouge Magic” slay the original, and would have elevated it past the ’82 take alone. Yet what makes this great is also kinda what makes the concert clip above weak – a relatively relaxed vibe anchored by bongos one wouldn’t expect from a usually noisier outfit like Merpeoples.

Thing is, this doesn’t sound like a huge departure for them. Merpeoples aren’t really about noise as much as they are all about repetition. On last year’s self-titled debut, the quartet’s best moments (“Picasso” and “Shaman,” which I have incorrectly written as “Sherman” for like a year now I’M SORRY) locked into guitar-driven grooves and rode them out for the remaining time. This also proved to be that mini-album’s biggest weakness, the group sticking too closely to familiar noises. “Rouge Magic” boasts familiar Pong-like back and forth, yet now the guitar gets toned down and its bubbly synth and bongos. Like Nu Clear Classmate earlier this year, Merpeoples invert their sound to something more minimalistic, a nice change that makes their lockstep playing fresh while also reminding the listener why this group grabbed attention in the first place.

Heck, lets cut through all the wordy dribble above and just say – this is the absolute giddiest thing Merpeoples have recorded yet, and paired with a celebratory video also sorta ushers in a really exciting scene coming of age in Tokyo right now. The clip culminates in a toast between Merpeoples, twee-crunkers Love And Hates and some guy with a bongo (who…might be remix-dude THE PEGASUSS?), and the credits also throw love out to folks including Twee Grrrls Club, Miila and the Geeks, and the Violet And Claire store they call a homebase (plus, Miila and HNC appear on Merpeoples’ forthcoming album). It’s a party, and a really satisfying one at that.

(Thanks to SparkPlugged for posting this first)