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flag Mare Smythii - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 28 - 01/31/99

1998 spelled mementos fresh!

We've been through another year showing proof of, or rather: hard evidence of the stupidity of mankind, including threatening and violent behavior, prejudice, greed, hypocrisy, envy, hatred... the list is long. History repeats, and the world never learns. That's when the world of music welcomes you on-board to pop- escapism - a round-trip away from the mad reality now and again. Recommended travel agencies: Chemikal Underground, Elephant 6, Jeepster, Merge, Matador, to name but a few. Here's some of the souvenirs I got myself last year when I was off.

L is for Ladybug Transistor : Beverley Atonale (Merge)
Ok, Ok, I know this one's from '97, but it deserves more attention than I think these Brooklyn, NY youngsters have received. This is the 2nd album, after their Marlborough Farm debut. Loungy pop with guitars, piano, flute, trumpet, and strings, and maybe the Brooklynian Belle and Sebastian? Even if they covered the Bee Gees' (!?) Massachusetts last year, they're more like being the grand- children of The Velvet Underground.

U stands for UNKLE : Psyence Fiction (Mowax/A&M)
The over-exposed, awaited and hyped project called UNKLE, starring Mowax-head James Lavelle and DJ Shadow, who brought a handful of guests (Beastie Boy Mike D., Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Richard Ashcroft of the Verve, Jason Newstead of Metallica, plus..) to the recording studio, to create some more pre-millennium angst and paranoia. A mixed bag of music indeed, but the song Rabbit in Your Headlights (co- written and sung by Yorke) is worth the price alone. It's a beautiful freak of a song, guided by a most bizarre video (if you get the chance to see it).

N as in Neutral Milk Hotel : In the Aeroplane over the Sea (Merge)
Definitely the best album that came in 1998! Absolutely fabulous, totally astonishing! A mixture of folk rock, brass, Ennio Morricone, some Salvation Army band, topped with the very powerful voice of "Hotel Concierge" Jeff Mangum. A brilliant record presenting a line of breath-taking songs that roll and jump around in a strange musical landscape garnished with the sound of instruments such as: trombone, banjo, euphonium, trumpet, and: the singing saw! A true classic of the 90's!

A is for Arab Strap : Philophobia (Matador)
Lots of great music has come out of Scotland the last couple of years. Arab Strap is something special. The duo of Malcolm Middleton (most things musical) and Aidan Moffat (most thing not) has shocked and provoked some people, due to the direct poetry and lyrical angle of the stories Moffat tells. Nothing left to the imagination, in the harsh, lust-filled tales of a boy and his experience with girls. Discreetly backed with music that can remind you of, say, Tindersticks and The Bad Seeds.

K stands for Knox, Chris : Yes!! (Matador)
Chris has been around for ages, recording and releasing loads of music, as one of many interesting names coming from down under (New Zealand) during a couple of decades. As one of the Tall Dwarfs, or, as here, solo. Mr. Knox is a DIY-pop-experimetalist, and he usually steers everything himself, playing around with guitars, tapes and rhythm-boxes. The results are witty, catchy and amusing. 'Yes' is the answer!

A as in Adventures in Stereo : Alternative Stereo Sounds (Creeping Bent - UK/Bobsled - US)
Another example from the Scottish pop-landscapes, with an entire album of summery pop. Adventures in Stereo plays around the sandy shores where Brian Wilson once tossed around barefooted. This is cool and simple pop, and a link to the 1960's is quite obvious. Female vocals, sweet harmonies, and light instrumentation. You can simply put on your sunglasses, stretch out, and relax. The good mood of this album will give you a tan!

F is for Fair, Jad & Yo La Tengo : Strange But True (Matador)
Well, maybe not too interesting as an album, but mentioned here because of the genius (and love!) of Yo La Tengo. Jad Fair is the "eccentric" behind Half Japanese, and this project (recorded in 1994 and 1996) sounded interesting. But the result came out somewhat...odd. There are some entertaining moments among the weird tales of "tabloid extremities", penned by Jad's brother, David Fair. You can't go wrong with titles like Clever Chemist Makes Chewing Gum from Soap and Clumsy Grandmother Serves Delicious Dessert by Mistake.

E, finally, must be the Electroscope kite from 1997, which I brought along everywhere last year as well, as my tail when I ran green lawns and plains all over trying to get up in the air. If I succeded? I'll tell you some other time...

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