Tag Archives: lullatone

New Lullatone: “Growing Up”

Here’s the first taste of Lullatone’s Soundtracks For Everyday Adventures. Funny seeing a song called “Growing Up” from a duo who have seemingly been avoiding just that over the course of their career. Yet this does mark at least a small move into maturity for Lullatone – “Growing Up” doesn’t possess the infantile quality of their previous lullabies, but rather seems like a fully awake walk of a song. They use the same sounds they’ve sculpted all those excellent sleepy-time tunes from, but everything sounds more grown now, especially the subdued part in the middle that almost seems like the musical equivalent of taking life inventory. I never would have guess Lullatone would tackle the ultimate Everyday Adventure – getting older. Watch and listen above.

Controlled Karaoke: Lullatone Make Cute Video, Are Generally Adorable

Never change Lullatone. The Nagoya duo have a new clip…featuring a song from the recently released Elevator Music in the background…where they do goofy stuff to their musical equipment. Wait for the end, it’s pretty rad!

Review: Lullatone’s Elevator Music

The brand of innocence Japan broadcasts to the rest of the world…or, at times, what Western media considers “wacky” enough to buff out the news…tends to be inspired by a three-year-old child’s nursery room. The Japanese word “kawaii,” often delivered in a rising intonation often reserved for seeing a red panda at the zoo, sums it up well though I think spending several minutes in a Sanrio store works just as well. Nearly everything in this country comes complete with a wide-eyed cartoon mascot, from local police branches to and tourist guides. Men read childish comics on trains and a Disney-centric wedding isn’t a farfetched idea if my local mall’s shelves can be trusted. This hyper-cutesy aesthetic even gets warped into the Lolita-evoking act of AKB48, where a gaggle of (very) young women wear schoolgirl outfits and perform simplistic pop songs while gyrating all about. Some have described Japan as a “country of children” yet that’s a little harsh… but aspects of modern culture here can often feel extremely childish.

Nagoya’s Lullatone offer an alternative take on innocence, one where Hello Kitty doesn’t become a cultural diplomat. The duo of Shawn and Yoshimi Seymour avoid kiddie-sounding music and instead aim at recreating the feeling of being a child, how the world looked when you were little. Most of their songs concern themselves with only the most everyday of occurrences…titles include “Leaves Falling” and “Orange Juice”…and filter them through a youthful lens, which transforms the mundane into the magical. Innocence isn’t so much owning a brightly colored plastic toy record player as much as seeing said item as something deeply wonderful and not “Made In China” future garbage. Apartment buildings seem as big and awe-inducing as mountains, bathtubs become concert halls and snores sound comforting. Childhood isn’t about Pokemon lunchboxes or folders covered in puppies, rather how everything about the world seems so fascinating and new. I could probably just write “imagination” and get the same point across.

Lullatone’s latest mini-album Elevator Music fits comfortably within this wonder-filled worldview. It’s a sorta compliment EP to the duo’s Song That Spin In Circles album released back in 2009. That set of songs focused on objects in movement (“An Old Record On Its Player,” “The Hands Of A Clock,” “The Whole World While You Are Asleep”) as a means to fall asleep, the whole affair billed as a set of “loopable lullabies” meant to get babies to take a nap. As the title hints at, Elevator Music instead takes a look at all the dull and boring stuff one has to deal with while wide awake…maybe it’s a cliche, but elevator music really is one of the most soulless sounds in the world…and tries to make these experiences sound more charming. Song titles include “Walking On The Sidewalk” and “A Lot Of People Cutting Grass On Sunday.” To some degree, it’s Lullatone’s most Lullatone-ish recording yet.

It’s also perhaps the goofiest set of songs they’ve released to date. Not really a surprise given the theme – they set out to make dreamier elevator music, not redefine what “elevator music” should be. Thus, Elevator Music sounds just like that, full of silly elements also found in supermarket jingles and “please hold” phone calls. Elevator Music features a Super Mario Brothers 3-ish version of “Heart And Soul” so corny it ends up being insanely endearing over time. Lullatone, though, take this all seriously so nothing feels like a rush job. Plus these 19 minutes sound distinctly like Lullatone, so charmingly cute but never in a ow-my-teeth-hurt-now way.

Expect few major revelations from the duo here, though you can count on a few little nudges. Like how opener “Sidewalk” ends up being the most twee thing the two have ever recorded, all twinkly noises and horn-powered ooooomphs. Or how “Ah, It Was In The Garage After All” finds Lullatone flirting with classic Motown via big hip-shaking percussion…paired up with a child’s xylophone. The track most seemingly out of place here would be closer “Matteru (Waiting, We’re Waiting),” a strummed number featuring actual lyrics, the only time on Elevator Music. It also prominently includes the real-world sound recordings that were ever-present on Songs That Spin In Circles – on “Matteru” the click-clock of a clock can be heard while Yoshimi imitates that very noise. While thematically it fits in fine…staring at a clock, not a party starter…sonically it seems both out of place amongst Elevator Music’s peppy instrumentals and a welcome breath of something different.

The rest of Elevator Music really does sound sort of like elevator music, though Lullatone have added so much joy to these little compositions you can practically see the grins pinned to their faces. “Whistling In An Office” features actual whistling placed over a skippy soundtrack waiting to score some old Merrie Melodies. “Umbrella” knabs chiming sounds straight out of the produce aisle, but adds a surprising emotional depth via some slightly resigned guitar, the whole thing coming across as a little melancholy despite having pixie dust sprinkled over it. “Cutting Grass” goes for more relaxed territory while “Jazzavator” – well, that one’s easy to figure out.

Musically, Elevator Music is a weird one to write about considering the semi-silly theme and briefness of the whole mini-album. Not to mention, Lullatone are basically giving this away so it’s tough to be all that judgmental. Yet when listened to within the context of the duo’s discography, it seems like a natural progression. Lullatone have always been obsessed by sleep – they coined the term “pajama pop” after all – yet here on Elevator Music they rub the crust from their eyes and tackle the world fully awake. Cubicles become pleasant, weekend chores become therapy and “Polka Dots” seem otherworldly. Many people in modern-day Japan need adorable escapes away from the hum-drum of the day – Lullatone just need their imagination, and that’s innocence captured just right.

Lullatone Release New Mini-Album Elevator Music For Free Online

Few terms make a music fan more queasy than “elevator music.” Critics whip out those six syllables like soldiers pull out grenades. So leave it to cutesy Nagoya duo Lullatone to embrace the idea of music you are forced to listen to while standing in a small space for several seconds. They’ve released a new mini-album called, surprise, Elevator Music for free online. You can listen to it here. “We’d like to propose a new kind of elevator music – one that makes you want to snap and clap, and talk to the stranger next to you.
We’d like to feel like floating up and down in a box held up by wires is a magical adventure,” the band write on their official website before going on to hint that the reason this small offering exists is because the elevators in Nagoya don’t play much music anymore. That daily trek up your office building just became a little better.

Instrumental Version Of A New Lullatone Song Featured In Photoshop Ad…Of Course I’m Going To Write About It

A band lending a song to a commercial isn’t particularly worthy of breaking news in 2011. It especially isn’t something you’d lead with when the tune in question is an unheard new song…an instrumental, probably unfinished version at that. I mean, this should be less newsworthy than even those insufferable Pomplamoose Hyundai ads.

Lullatone, though, are sorta different, at least to this blog. I mean…the name of this here WordPress page swipes a title from the sleepy-samba duo. Make Believe Melodies’ really likes these two. So yes…a new Lullatone song recently showed up in a cute little spot for Photoshop. The one catch – the group says it’s just an instrumental version of a new number they are working on. With all that in mind, this new song seems to be right in Lullatone’s wheelhouse. It’s a twinkly, hoppy number built out of toddler-toy sounds and some honey-sweet vocals popping beneath the tune. Lullatone have been slowly edging away from their extremely minimalist beginnings for a while now, and this Photoshop soundtrack sees them embracing childish twee-pop over sine waves. We eagerly await the finished product, but this should tide us over for now.

I Have PSD from Hyperakt on Vimeo.

Controlled Karaoke: Lullatone Want To Make Your Christmas Even Better…For Only Ten Bucks!

Looking for a good last minute gift for that loved one who happens to love minimalist Japanese music? Or maybe you just want to put a smile on your favorite Japan-based music blogger’s face? Either way, bedtime-pop duo Lullatone have just the solution for you. For ten dollars, they’ll send whoever you want a personalized e-mail featuring a download code for one free Lullatone album of your choice in the format of your choosing. Hold on a second though…you’ll also get a “secret link” to a Christmas song covered by Lullatone. Go here to get your orders in now.

Cough my e-mail can be found in the “About” cough.

Lullatone Being Lullatone: Release Album Online Called Loopable Lullabies Which Is Just That, Also Another Album In The Works!

Thanks to my computer woes I missed this but…dreamy duo Lullatone posted a new album of sorts online to celebrate their niece being born. Loopable Lullabies delivers on the title perfectly, offering up 10 classic children songs transformed into lullabies that are easily looped using iTunes. This makes Loopable Lullabies a great sequel to Songs That Spin In Circles which served a similar purpose. Basically, this is Lullatone’s album of covers that influenced them, except instead of The Beatles they tackle “Row Row Row Your Boat.” Oh and I’m sure it will help little kids get some shut eye. An initial listen through the album reveals all the trademarks of Lullatone to be present – dreamlike state, peaceful music, great sound engineering (these song feature “womb sounds” and “white noise” to make them extra sleep-inducing!). If you need some shut eye, or just love Lullatone, head over here to listen online.

In other news from the duo who inspired this blog’s name…they are also recording a new pop album, according to a recent Tweet. They’ve posted a demo for a song called “My Portable Melody,” which is like Lullatone making bouncy music for some sort of 50s-car-hop themed daycare center. Dig those hand claps and the part of the song where they introduce all the instruments…so great. Listen below.