Shugo Tokumaru preps new album for January via Polyvinyl! Shugo Tokumar-hooray!

Shugo Tokumaru preps new album for January via Polyvinyl! Shugo Tokumar-hooray!

After listening to the first single off of multi-instrumentalist Shugo Tokumaru’s upcoming fifth record, titled “Decorate,” I definitely feel a little better. The track is light, upbeat without being cloying, and is recommended for those struggling with the flu (like me). Learning a little more about how the record was made helps support this idea. Shugo locked himself in his studio for days at a time, often forgetting to eat or sleep, much in the same way I’ve been holed up in my house this week being ill, just without the accompanying output of creativity. The record, titled In Focus? and out January 22 in the US via Polyvinyl, so far sounds like a logical antidote to the kind of isolationism that only focused creativity or acute illness could require. And it makes me smile.

Mastered at Abbey Road Studios, the record will be available in limited physical quantities on CD and clear vinyl (preorder here), and through all major digital channels (download it as many times as you can afford). Go ahead and listen to and/or watch “Decorate” embedded below — it’s like an unexpected get well soon card right when you need it.

In Focus? tracklisting:

01. Circle
02. Katachi
03. Gamma
04. Decorate
05. Call
06. Mubyo
07. Poker
08. Ord Gate
09. Pah-Paka
10. Tightrope
11. Helictite (LeSeMoDe)
12. Shirase
13. Micro Guitar Music
14. DownDown
15. Balloon

• Shugo Tokumaru:
• Polyvinyl:

RIP: Mickey Baker of Mickey & Sylvia

From The New York Times:

Mickey Baker, whose prickly, piercing guitar riffs were featured on dozens if not hundreds of recordings and helped propel the evolution of rhythm and blues into rock ’n’ roll, died on Tuesday at his home in Montastruc-la-Conseillère, near Toulouse in southwestern France. He was 87.

The cause was heart and kidney failure, his wife, Marie, said.

Mr. Baker is probably best known for a single song, “Love Is Strange,” a sexy pop tune that he and Sylvia Vanderpool Robinson recorded in 1956 as Mickey & Sylvia. It sold more than a million copies and reached No. 1 on Billboard’s rhythm-and-blues chart and No. 11 on the pop chart.

• Mickey Baker:

Awesome Tapes from Africa reissues 1987 cassette release from Mogadishu’s finest, Dur-Dur Band

What does Mogadishu sound like? Well, before it sounded like strife and civil war, Somalia’s coastal capital had a bangin’ music scene, and the people at Awesome Tapes from Africa wanna share a little piece of that magic with you, in the form of a reissue of Dur-Dur Band’s 1987 Volume 5 cassette.

Dur-Dur Band were one of the leaders of Mogadishu’s musical community, fusing elements of traditional Somali music with Western jazz and pop vibes and adding in a dash of Middle Eastern flava. Established in the early 1980s, Dur-Dur Band pack a lotta punch into their lineup, with four featured vocalists — including the celebrated Sahra Dawo — as well as backing vocalists, plus trumpet, sax, keyboard, congas, drums, bass, and guitars. The reissue of Volume 5 is a moving tribute to the vibrancy of Mogadishu arts and culture before the bad stuff happened. Awesome Tapes from Africa is bringing Dur-Dur Band back on CD, LP, digital download, and limited-edition cassette on February 5.

• Awesome Tapes from Africa:

Cheatahs’ debut album claws its way into North America on February 5

London’s Cheatahs are a throwback to an alternate-dream-90s where Dinosaur Jr. mated with fuzzed-out country rock and made beautiful English children. Who were born with guitars strapped to their infant chests. And where no one ever wore cargo pants. And where the ABC family sitcom Dinosaurs was, in retrospect, actually funny. Yes, Cheatahs have been winning grungy hearts across the pond with the two EPs they released earlier in the year, Coared and SANS, and now Wichita Recordings has compiled those two releases into one eight-track LP called Extended Plays. The irony! Those English! Isn’t the English version of The Office so much better than the American one blah blah blah droll humour Downton Abbey?

Anyway, Extended Plays hits US shores on February 5, and there’s a nifty new video for the lead track, “The Swan,” that you can check out below. Coinciding with said album release, Cheatahs will be voyaging to North America for a quick March 2013 East Coast tour with similarly-buzzed-about bands Veronica Falls and Cold Showers. The tour kicks off at Washington, DC’s famed Black Cat and wraps at Toronto’s The Garrison.

Extended Plays tracklisting:

01. The Swan
02. SANS
03. Fountain Park
04. Flake
05. Coared
06. Ripper
07. Jacobi
08. Froshed


03.06.13 - Washington DC - Black Cat
03.07.13 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda’s
03.08.13 - New York City, NY - Bowery Ballroom
03.09.13 - Boston, MA - Great Scott
03.10.13 - Montreal, QC - la divan orange
03.12.13 - Toronto, ON - The Garrison

• Cheatahs:
• Wichita:

[Photo: Robin Christian]

ahnnu proclaims “ahnnu whatchu want,” begins West Coast tour

Call me a stickler for nuance, but I sometimes wish artists were required (by some musical Big Brother) to document every creative and technical decision that they make in their crafting of an album. That way, listeners would be able to get an immediate and detailed sense of just how much (or how little) work and talent was put in, and adjust their opinions accordingly.

Listening to ahnnu’s remarkably smooth 29-minute sample-fest pro habitat (TMT Review), the question of whether or not work or talent was involved hardly merits a response; obviously, indisputably, the answer is yes, but now we’re concerned with degrees. It’s apparent that he worked his ass off, but just how much of his ass did he work… off? Are the two cheeks still mostly recognizable? I might just have to do some serious/borderline creepy investigative reporting and invite myself into his studio to watch the man at work if I want to obtain a clear and complete answer to this.

Or I (and you) could just catch him on his West Coast tour, which begins today in Pasadena, CA. To be sure, live performances aren’t quite as thorough a method of obtaining information about recording processes as being obnoxiously insistent, but fun-having remains a distinct characteristic of the former. Have fun and witness a burgeoning talent in the abstract/instrumental hip-hop scene at one of the dates below.

Dates (all w/ Ages, Mndsgn, and DTCPU):

11.30.12 - Pasadena, CA - Poo-Bah Record Label and Store
12.01.12 - San Francisco, CA - Icon Lounge
12.04.12 - Seattle, WA - The Lo-Fi Gallery
12.05.12 - Portland, OR - Groove Suite
12.07.12 - Oakland, CA - The Fox Theater
12.08.12 - Arcata, CA - Ocean Grove Lodge
12.14.12 - Los Angeles, CA - Space 15 Twenty

• ahnnu:

The Thermals gas up their Dodge van for new album in 2013

I think The Thermals put it best when they said, “Yeah, everything Thermals!” In my personal list of lyrics about The Thermals, it is in the Top 3. Thing is, life hasn’t been “everything Thermals” in some time. The Portland-based pop-punk trio haven’t put out any records since 2010’s Personal Life (TMT Review). For people who love The Thermals (note: I am one of these people), this is far too long to go without a new record.

As you might have expected from that lead-in, there’s going to be a new Thermals record in 2013. Sound the trumpets! The new record is called… something. The band hasn’t given the record a name yet. But it will come out through… someone. If there’s a label attached to the record at the moment, The Thermals aren’t telling. Their last two records came out through Kill Rock Stars, so that’s not a terrible guess. Anyway, the nameless, label-less record is coming out… sometime. Okay, so there’s not a release date either, but the band is aiming for spring 2013.

While the usual basics aren’t yet available for this record, there is some other information available. The album was recorded with John Agnello (producer behind Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, Kurt Vile, and many others) at Water Music in Hoboken, New Jersey. Mixing was completed on October 28, mere hours before Hurricane Sandy hit. The band describes the record as a cross between their two best-loved records, More Parts Per Million and The Body, The Blood, The Machine. While this description is exciting, I am perturbed that most Thermals records do not recognize Now We Can See as the best Thermals record. You other Thermals fans need to get it together.

No dates have been announced for the band, though they do plan on playing many dates at SXSW in March. If we’re in the business of speculating, expect The Thermals to play Red 7, The Mohawk, The Parish, Emo’s, a taco truck on East Sixth Street, Beauty Ballroom, Wendy’s, a dog park, my living room, and, somehow, a casino in Louisiana. That is a lot of (speculative) SXSW dates!

• The Thermals:

[Photo: Thomas Oliver]