Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This Week on Audiosurf Radio – 6/16 – Weird Band Names Edition

Really?  Sexrat?  REALLY? Where the hell do band names come from?  Some bands have weird stories.  I heard that the 90s band Semisonic won theirs in a card game.  And that originally Live wanted people to pronounce their name like the verb not the adjective.  Then there are bands like Shitdisco, whom I can only presume came up with theirs after smoking a brick of weed and watching Saturday Night Fever.

This week we’ve got two mysteries Yukikaze (Japanese for “Snowy Wind” or idiomatically for blizzard – thanks Wikipedia) and Juanitos.  I was only able to drum up a barebones Jamendo page for Yukikaze, so I can’t tell you why his/her/their operation shares its name with the only Kagero-class destroyer to survive WWII.  As for Juanitos, your guess is as good as mine.  Despite choosing to sing in English, this French combo’s website is entirely in, what else, French.  I even tried Google translating the site for some clues, but all I got was hilarity.

Offbeat name choices aside, it’s another decent week for Radio.  Hit the jump for what made the cut this time around.


Yukikaze is also the name of an anime, but I'll give the artist more credit than that for their name. Ordinarily, songs filled to the brim with beeps and blips bore me.  But “Web” proves something of an exception.   There are plenty of beeps and blips to be had, but it’s the percussion I find myself enjoying.  My ears are probably playing tricks on me, but it sounds like there are two drum tracks going at once.  (I use the word “drum” only because that’s what these noises most resemble in context.  [Would you call this man’s instruments drums?  Not when removed from the context of the man.]  In reality, it sounds like an electronic rendering of metal being struck dully by other metal.  I don’t mean this to sound unappealing.  I’m simply trying to articulate this track into words [and having a tough time at it, apparently].)  One of these drum tracks (if there are indeed two) is mixed louder, almost becoming part of the quote-unquote melody, thereby resolving my main issue with most rides: the drums supplying more traffic than the sing-able parts of the song.  Navigating the traffic is always more enjoyable when it’s easy to match the blocks to their sound.  Oh yeah, and there’s a wicked bank a little ways in that caused me to overload each time I played the song.  Good luck making it through that unscathed.

Glitter BOMB-UH I started laughing the minute this song started.  Again, people with accents, get ready to send me some angry letters.  These French dudes just sound hilarious.  Maybe it’s because they’re playing 60s beach bunny music.  Maybe it’s the goofy horn fills that follow the choruses.  Or maybe it’s just how they say “Glitter Bomb-uh” (which I, being a singer, realize comes from how French singers commonly add schwas to word endings).  What’s fun about this track is how smooth it is.  Sure, it’s got its sloping ups and downs, but it’s not pimple-ridden face bumpy.  It’s not one of those tracks that feels like you have a flat tire the whole ride.  The tone of the music perfectly matches the tone of the ride: bright, joyous, carefree.  Paints came pretty commonly when I rode it, allowing me to correct the mistakes I was making during fits of raucous laughter.

They remind me of The 1, 2, 3, 4's. Does anyone remember them? Oh my god.  Play this song.  No build up needed.  You have to.  When I rode “Glitter Bomb” I thought  “Look at these are silly Frenchmen doing retro beach music.  How cute.”  But the minute “Super Exotic 60s Beat” started I became convinced that this was tongue-in-cheek.  Just look at the lyrics.  You can sing along.  It’s just “Super. Exotic.  Six-ties beat.  Super.  Exotic. Six-ties beat” over and over again.  It’s like a Flight of the Conchords sketch: technically sound if not downright infectious - packed with earnest sax fills and electronic organ solos (both of which are well-represented in the traffic) – with ironic, self-referential lyrics that I can’t believe are anything but on purpose.  If you like surf rock, give this one a ride.  If you like tracks where the traffic matches up with the melody, ride this song.  And if you like quirky music that may or may not be a joke, ride this song.

Other Selections
The bass revving gets a little old by the end of Yukikaze’s “Urbain,” but the echoing, underwater noise that becomes the melody helped mix up the mood a bit.  Because of the echo, I had a hard time picking up where the traffic was coming from, but I still found the ride enjoyable.  The clapping percussion makes the traffic a little crazy in the first half, but it seems to cool off as the ride goes on, making it an upbeat track that you can still zone out to.  Good but not better than weird French dudes.  As for Yukikaze’s third song “City” – this song’s quiet.  Too quiet.  Honestly, who mixed it?  Somebody with their hearing aid cranked up to 11?  I just couldn’t get into it. 

Author’s Note
All songs were ridden on the Pro difficulty using the Eraser and Vegas characters.  After further rooting through the Juanitos site, I still can’t tell if they’re playing a post-modern trick on me, or if they really mean it when they sing “Super Exotic 60s Beat.”  Thoughts?