Out of Obscurity

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EI2: Onuka “Mozaïka” & Mireia Vilar “La Plaga”

This episode features two “unpopular pop” albums.  One from a group who apparently survive on viral word of mouth in Eastern Europe, and the 2nd a 2019 album translated as “The Plague” that in a just world would have spread more than Covid-19 or at least should be one of those globally prescient coincidences for future music historians to unearth someday.

 

Purchase our album picks on Bandcamp https://mireiavilar.bandcamp.com/

or eMusic https://www.emusic.com/album/150248559/ONUKA/MOZAKA

https://www.emusic.com/album/201770325/Mireia-Vilar/La-Plaga

 

Official sites:  http://www.onuka.ua/en/

http://www.mireiavilar.com/music/ 

 

YouTube channels (please use them only for the music videos and buy the albums):  https://www.youtube.com/user/onukaofficial   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdLwWPkbw7jpwwGPNMvkGgw

 

Structure:  Basic specs for “Mozäika” & Robert explains Eurovision (up to 9:08) Live and studio versions, Onuka’s views on Russia as a Ukrainian, the insular American pop music market & its imperviousness to Eurovision, contrast w/ U.S. music/singing pageantry, Robert on the “love fest” of Eurovision (9:08-15:50) Is competition good for music?  Does it make the music better or just more conformative? Robert on pop voices and yet more Eurovision details, “winning” versus “losing” the contests, telegenic appearances, must a pop diva be able to belt out and hold a single note? (15:50-24:20) The joys of liner notes & other merits of “Mozaïka”, variety and popularity of the album (24:20-27:28) Onuka’s “Strum” music video & a detailed description of a very short song/interlude via Chernobyl architecture, pop music & militarism, “Golos” & “Guns Don’t Shoot”, human sincerity with electronics, Ukraine’s geopolitics (27:28-34:08) Robert praises individual songs & gives RIYLs (34:08-38:56) Reviews on eMusic, DJ Poseur’s album summary, Onuka’s music videos, lack of professional reviews, comparison to the self-entitled album (38:56-43:31) Ratings (43:31-45:48) Transition between album picks, YouTube views disparity, Synth/dream/space pop?,  (45:48-49:30) Pop music, popular music, chart music, yacht rock, production convergence & conformity, nostalgia for certain time periods (49:30-56:01) Robert starts to opine on MV & gets steered back to obscure, “unpopular pop” & regional versus global popularity & whether there’s a single global (Western) style of pop music today.  How globally popular must a song be to pierce the USA?  Other media introduce new music and popularize it.  Being a fan w/out hope of seeing someone perform.  Foreign languages, time versus place influences in pop styles. (56:01-1:05:44) Mireia Vilar’s “La Plaga” & very literary lyrics in “Estado de Flow”  & other lyrical interpretations of individual songs on the album (1:05:44-1:11:56) Robert’s favorite song of the year & his RIYLS for MV.  Lyrical poetry listening versus general pop listening.  One person can make a difference w/ a review if no one else has? Music videos and performance videos, simplicity of composition.  Demographics & music markets. (1:11:56-1:21:10) Other songs on the album.  MV’s evolution from previous album and her future, would this work w/ a live audience? (1:21:11-1:26:33) RIYLs, mostly other obscure artists for fans of MV (1:26:33-1:27:52) Ratings (1:27:52)

 

Onuka is RIYLShuma, Bjork, Boomclap Bachelors, Jorane, La Roux, Линда (Linda from Kazakhstan)

 

Mireia Vilar is RIYL… SingerSen, Orbital, Goldfrapp, Beach House, other Spanish synth-pop?, Mow, Jeanette, Suzanne Vega, Enya

The RIYL Spanish band Mow is impossible to find w/out more of a lead, so try their music video for “Grasiah” here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92YtTynOyAM 

 

Onuka interview 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsrjjQmC364 

 

George Gittoes’ “Soundtrack to War” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0470161/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0 

 

MV has a special treat for psychologists…   Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. 

 

Robert thinks Onuka sounds like Linda, Kazakh pop star from the 1990s

https://www.bitlanders.com/blogs/mystical-trip-hop-from-russia-linda-russian-singer/60867

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_(singer), as well as Shuma, the Belarussian band https://youtu.be/K7VBU1TZwCo

Skryabin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skryabin_(band)  1997 album https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idGFNH0T6OA  , Lyube https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyube   https://www.emusic.com/album/123498320  , 

and MV sounds like Jeanette https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAe0gyrDSyg 

 

Laibach’s “Volk” album of national anthems https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_kxo4FIzLWoQPV-V-gUEycoRKKpWUWVI9E 

 

Eurovision:  Eurovision likes to laugh at itself, so they made this great music video to explain Eurovision to newbies https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cv6tgnx6jTQ&list=PLUczN3tkUHz7fi-jV2ab0oA8mQQXmqWUk&index=2 (the people who participate in the performance are all previous winners -- including the MC's!)

epic sax guy from Eurovision

https://youtu.be/pHXDMe6QV-U Moldava scored next to last place, and then 5 years later they made a meme out of him and literally epic sax guy was the most anticipated act in 2019!

Eurovision vigorously geo-blocks youtube content from USA.

idiotprogrammer’s blog:  http://www.imaginaryplanet.net/weblogs/idiotprogrammer/ 

Obscurity Quiz Europop Divas with Idiotprogrammer

As a preview for Idiotprogrammer's 2nd episode of OoO on "unpopular pop music," we take a brief look at some of Europe's most popular female vocalists since the 1980s.  We have differing views on which we'd actually choose to listen to today and whether we'd prefer any of them over our episode's album picks, neither of which is listed in All Music Guide, as ever the measurement standard for the quiz.

EC1: The Faint “Danse Macabre” & Nurses “Dracula” w/ Ced

Purchase album picks on Bandcamp: https://thefaint.bandcamp.com/album/danse-macabre-deluxe-edition-remastered 

https://nurses.bandcamp.com/album/dracula 

 

Nurses’ 2017 follow-up is on Bandcamp on a “name your price” basis and should be owned by everyone w/ the faintest interest in experimental, electronic pop music or edgy music in general:  https://nurses.bandcamp.com/album/naughtland    .  The music video for the “single” from the album, “Fortress”, is excellent, involving a Portland queer art collective:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bq2zcdjA7Ps 

 

Structure:  Ced’s thoughts on “Danse Macabre” (up to 2:36); Songs versus albums, owning versus streaming (2:36-4:10); Ced’s consideration of song themes & genre on “Danse Macabre” and an explanation of the appeal of the controversial “Agenda Suicide” & his legal background/rejection of capitalism (4:10-8:37); Does dance music age well?  Ced’s nostalgia & general taste in music (8:37-10:30); The possibility of dying before 40 & how “successful” are The Faint as a band? Oberlin memories & Beach House connection.  Ced the indie rock partisan was there before the bands hit the big time.  Recommending music to friends & loved ones.  Selling out as a hipster concern  (10:30-19:14).  Black and dark but not goth.  Electronic dance punk as a style of music w/ consideration of imitators & “derivative” sounds.  Cel’s current musical interests & uses for music, his appreciation of Spotify, and his intensity.  (19:14-24:40)  Side projects of The Faint & Wolf Parade, thoughts on the discography (or at least other favorite songs).  Leaving it to Spotify & what makes a good or bad song, thoughts on very popular music.  Artist compensation on streaming services  (24:40-33:50).  The deluxe version’s additional tracks.  Spotify playlists as an existential threat to the album.  Relative concerns of artist compensation versus existential threats to humanity, democracy, etc. (33:51-37:35).  RIYL The Faint (37:35-40:56).  Ratings for “Danse Macabre” (40:56-41:42).  Transition between album picks & Cel’s initial thoughts on “Dracula” (41:42-45:02).  The importance of a good live show and whether we’d ever go to a concert “blind” today (45:02-48:04).  Basic specs for “Dracula” & hypotheses for the ongoing obscurity of Nurses.  Music Ced doesn’t like and reasons to remember names of musicians/bands (48:04-52:53).  “Best-of” lists on Pitchfork & elsewhere, favorites from the 2010s (52:53-58:45).  Ced is a fan of Dracula.  Reviews of the album. DJ Poseur heaps praise on “Dracula”, albums where songs connect to each other (1:03 ish).   Nurses discography, Spotify’s algorithm & the lure of the obscure for DJ Poseur, putting the kibosh on Kanye conversation.  RIYLs (1:04:01-1:09:05).  Ratings for “Dracula” (1:09:05 to end).

 

RIYL The Faint - Supersystem, Mobius Band, The Fever, The Faux, Out Hud/!!!, The Rapture, The Show Is the Rainbow (also NE)

 

1.3-hr. mix of 20 songs for fans of The Faint:  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCBeakfAKFQa3K0yjwO9ZlvZgxSgLsjW5 

 

Nurses is RIYL - We Ragazzi; Dios (Malos); Shimmering Stars; Animal Collective; Fredrik

 

I mention that “Dracula” is #2 on my list of favorite albums of the 2010s, in full here:  http://www.omnifoo.info/pages/Favorite%20Superlatives.html#2010s 

 

The vampire rock band movie from Canada (starring Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, and many more) “Suck” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1323605/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_5 

Obscurity Quiz with Ced Severino

First-time guest host shares his concert memories, thoughts on fame versus obscurity, with reverences to seminal acts like The Fall, The Smiths, and Neutral Milk Hotel.  Our episode on The Faint's "Danse Macabre" & Nurses "Dracula" will follow soon.

EI1: Many Birthdays “Black Mountain Blue Sea” & 13 Year Cicada “00YES” & “Totem Tongue”

Purchase our album picks on Bandcamp https://manybirthdays.bandcamp.com/album/black-mountain-blue-sea    https://13yearcicadas.bandcamp.com/  

or eMusic https://www.emusic.com/artist/rs_3624495/13-Year-Cicada 

 

Structure:  The first album pick is an EP and the second is more of a comparison of two albums.  (1:10) Robert’s discovery of & history appreciating Many Birthdays & IUMA music hosting site (5:20) turning Japanese and then less so over their discography (12:24) RIYLs (w/ whom would we “lump” MB?)  (17:20) “Black Mountain Blue Sea” EP thoughts (20:42) Robert’s thoughts on Austin, TX  (23:40) alternative explanations for MB’s obscurity:  the importance of record label support & full albums  (30:35) MB’s many genres and individual songs from the EP, comparisons to Mitchell Froom (35:37) MB’s music videos in comparison to 13 Year Cicada  (41:20) Album ratings for “Black Mountain Blue Sea” & Robert’s thoughts on music reviews and “interesting failures”  (48:38) transitioning to 13 Year Cicada with similarities between the groups  (50:50) 13 Year Cicada’s “00YES” introduction & Robert’s introduction of the band (53:17) RIYLs & reaching for similar sounds to 13 Year Cicada, Robert compares to previous album “Totem Tongue” (57:05) Critics didn’t get the album, “Ride” compared to The Shaggs, other individual tracks from “00YES” (1:01:26) Who is the audience for this audience?  Lyrics to “Squirrel”, video for the new track “What Will You Be Wearing?”, thoughts on individual songs with that song as a bridge between the quiet and loud of their two albums. (1:11:06) Why DJ Poseur prefers “Totem Tongue” & Robert’s preference for “00YES” friendly disagreement, their other music videos (1:13:52) Rating the two albums by 13 Year Cicada

 

Many Birthdays RIYL:  The Kills, Asobi Seksu, Deerhoof, Trans Am, Sonic Youth, Parts & Labor, IQU, the soundtrack to "Zombies Ate My Neighbors" for SNES, Love Psychedelico, Takako Minekawa & J-Rock generally

 

13 Year Cicada RIYL:  Pharmakon, Shilpa Ray, The Low Budgets, experimental punk w/ fem. vocals, Animal Collective

 

My favorite MB music video (for “Days Like Turtles”):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGxrhFljxF0    and one I call lo-fi Cyriak, “Minnawa”:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xlt5CEZ9J8  

 

A great, new music video for 13 Year Cicada’s “What Will You Be Wearing”:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HCuzpYB7-E 

 

Media on MB:  https://www.sonicbids.com/band/manybirthdays/  ;   https://www.facebook.com/manybirthdays 

 

Media reviews of “00Yes”:  Fuze Magazine (Germany)  https://www.ox-fanzine.de/review/13-year-cicada-00yes-117164 ;  https://www.ox-fanzine.de/review/13-year-cicada-00yes-117164

 

Other media we mention:  IUMA

https://archive.org/details/iuma-archive

 

http://www.theoctopusproject.com/

 

Mitchell Froom -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitchell_Froom

 

Gram Rabbit     https://gramrabbit.bandcamp.com/ (ok, maybe this connection is tenuous is best, but Gram Rabbit straddles country and electronica and occasionally punk, such as in this album)

 

https://gramrabbit.bandcamp.com/album/music-to-start-a-cult-to

 

Takako Minekawa  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takako_Minekawa

Obscurity Quiz 1979 with idiotprogrammer

The first three albums are ones that idiotprogrammer mentioned among his all time favorites, and the latter three are DJ Poseur's favorites from that year.  Just imagine that we have the rights to play the hit by Smashing Pumpkins to open and close this obscurity quiz.  A new episode with this guest is coming soon!

SD4: Profile in Music Exploration 1 w/ idiotprogrammer (Robert Nagle)

As OoO matures, it’s expected that DJ Poseur won’t know some guest hosts personally.  After admiring Robert’s work for over a year, this is the first time DJ Poseur and idiotprogrammer met in real time.  The guest shares his thoughts and experiences from a lifetime of going far above and beyond the average listener.

You can find idiotprogrammer’s music blog here:  http://www.imaginaryplanet.net/weblogs/idiotprogrammer/category/music/musical-discoveries/ 

Other links to material covered in the interview… 

the beloved 90-min. synthesizer soundscape:  https://www.jamendo.com/album/6118/electrolongtempo  

Steve Reich “It's Gonna rain” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vugqRAX7xQE

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s_Gonna_Rain

His thoughts on “Sex on the Phone”:   http://www.imaginaryplanet.net/weblogs/idiotprogrammer/2008/06/e-rotic-europop-mindless-sexy-and-embarrassing-and-very-fun/ 

& the song itself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dizyctgh2fM  & another:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjhdxsV7Ng4  

Chinese pop singer g.e.m.:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWtbGkpdoP4

Music in “Ghost World”:  https://www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/36002/1/three-things-you-never-knew-about-ghost-world 

EKR4: Stuart Davis “Music for Mortals” & Mashrou Leila “Ibn El Leil”

Purchase options:  “Music for Mortals” http://www.stuartdavis.com/album/music-mortals   “ibn El Leil” https://www.emusic.com/album/84891083/Mashrou-Leila/Ibn-El-Leil 

 

Structure:  Background on SD (up to 6:13); “Music for Mortals” album:  songs in 3-4 tiers (6:13-16:00) Comparisons & RIYLs for SD and eclectic albums (16:00-25:36) The SD discography & ratings for “Music for Mortals” and whether to focus on one genre per album (25:36-30:31)  Transition between picks (30:31-31:56) “Ibn El Leil” album, openness to the style, the band has faced adversity for its identity, political lyrics, their Tiny Desk concert, different versions and songs repeating appearances, Middle Eastern pop production strictures (31:56-41:23) Song highlights (41:23-47:53) ML discography and RIYLs from the Middle East and the West, Synth-pop examined (47:53-51:59) Ratings and possible appeal beyond a Middle East fanbase (51:59-end)

 

Hopeful news article on a previous album by SD:  https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/2257208-cd-review-davis-set-become-breakthrough-artist-new-release

 

Pitchfork called this video for ML’s “Roman” one of the best of the 2010s, and it’s been viewed enough times to make the pick for OoO questionable:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NF__cpsDmZk 

 

ML lyrics in translation:  https://mashrouleilalyrics.wordpress.com/2015/12/12/the-truth-behind-ibn-el-leil-night-wine-and-gods/

 

ML banned from performing in Jordan:  https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2016/04/28/moderate-jordan-bans-lebanese-rock-group-for-music-that-contradicts-the-abrahamic-faiths/

 

Clearly showing religion is not my forte nor the focus of OoO, I misremembered this documentary as being about LGBTQ Muslims rather than Hasidic & Orthodox Jews…still relevant, I suppose, and it’s good to establish a negligent correction policy.  Sorry to anyone who’s offended.  https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/trembling-before-gd 

 

SD is RIYL:  90s rock, Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, RHCP, Adam Green

 

ML is RIYL:  Depeche Mode, New Order, Pet Shop Boys

 

RIYL ML:  A Hawk and a Hacksaw, Dissidenten, Ouzo Bazooka, Jerusalem in My Heart, Aufgang’s “Turbulences” album 

EHhB1: Vocal Harmony & A Cappella from Jacob Collier & Hyperpotamus

Stream our picks here (but do also buy them if you can afford it):   https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_lYasLPwrQ7z0-pepR1n43ZT-Fdl3QSWnc 

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_nnSVNrj2W6uETwPJK8h-Fl8UzhC6_mUN4 

 

Listen to songs by Hannah Backward:  https://soundcloud.com/hannah-backward 

 

This episode is the longest one yet, so no worries if you want to skip to parts that interest you.

Structure:  Background, JC’s YouTube videos, Tiny Desk concerts (up to 8:30); Instrumental & vocal virtuosity and technical skill, guests in the studio, parental appreciation of JC (8:29-12:05); Popularity with musicians but not yet the general public, the relevance of Grammy Awards, can jazz musicians be superstars?, Hannah’s listening habits & favorites (12:05-17:20); Close listening as opposed to background music, situations when she listens to music or podcasts, complexity/quality/desire to listen to something, impressiveness versus what music she could have done herself (17:20-22:40); Music as “a coloring book” with rules and whether or not it’s art, which prominent artists “can’t sing”?  (22:40-30:55); A tasty dish according to J.Gold is likelier w/ a smaller number of ingredients?  Not so for music?  (30:55-33:00); the album “Djesse Vol.2” and shifting preferences in its songs, African cultural appropriation, Gospel & Kanye (33:00-38:06); Is JC “obscure enough” for OoO? (38:06-39:10); “Here Comes the Sun” & cover songs generally, can a young person cover standards and classics with gravitas and sufficient emotion? An instrument versus a voice conveying emotions with words, vocal affectation and experimentation, subtle variations in harmony (39:10-49:26); More music education in public schools to understand JC’s music?  Musical talent versus academic study.  Musicals and being outed as a non-fan of Randy Rainbow (49:26-56:58); The album as a whole, Hannah cares not for genre or DJ Poseur’s activism, vocal loops by JC and Sparks, workout music & repetition  (56:58-1:03:19); Do we like music music that we want to make ourselves? More “amp you up” workout music, Hannah rejects more categories and dichotomies but is an album listener, what do we skip and why? (1:03:19-1:07:18); R&B on the radio & DJ Poseur’s Beijing roommate revenge for Mariah Carey, R&B and JC’s commercial success, videos of the musicians playing the song, JC’s discography (1:07:18-1:14:22); Hannah’s rating system will not be forthcoming (1:14:22-1:18:17); Could DJ Poseur like an album by an artist he doesn’t like?  His rating of “Djesse Vol.2” in a roundabout way through middle school music class (1:18:17-1:24:05); Transition between picks, skinny dark-haired white dudes who sing a lot, Hyperpotamus covering The Beatles and other familiar pop songs versus JC’s ways, cringeworthy comparisons of awe and musical skillz (1:24:05-1:35:30); pop music versus opera in vocal virtuosity, obscure/hidden talents versus being “world best” at something everyone (thinks they) can do, how to go viral with a music video or not (1:35:30-1:41:57); Specs for “Delta” and general thoughts on a cappella’s fit with “pop” or “experimental” music (1:41:57-1:46:14); “Delta” versus “Largo Bailón” and “taking drums literally” , novelty albums and formulaic songwriting, unexpected bassline placement, love-themed lyrics, a cappella & psychic powers (1:46:14-1:55:15); Noisier elements and when do his loops come together and sound like a song?, RIYLS with vocal loops or pedal board composition (1:55:15-1:59:14); Attempts at rating and comparison between album picks, revisiting whether the possibility of one being able to make a particular kind of music oneself as a musician influences liking it, Hannah’s a cappella history and ambition (1:59:14-2:02:56); DJ Poseur’s rating of “Delta”, what’s annoying enough to turn off or skip?  For Hannah, it’s autotune. (2:02:56 to end)

 

Disclaimer article for JC being too popular/well known for OoO:  https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/nov/28/jacob-collier-grammy-nomination-best-album

 

JC’s cover of “Here Comes the Sun”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXf1nUVdVuM 

Hyperpotamus’ cover of “Strawberry Fields Forever”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zr9syen5Lw 

Hyperpotamus’ most-viewed music video (91k views, not 40k as DJ Poseur misspeaks) “In the Time”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK_bkWreCdo  

 

RIYL for JC:  Nickel Creek, old musicals (for Djesse v.2)  more generally...Stevie Wonder, Jamiroquai, funky/soulful 1970s jazz/R&B, The Manhattan Transfer, PM Dawn, Sonik Boom of Love

RIYL Hyperpotamus:  A Cappella music, Emily Wells, Pentatonix, Chanticlear, Rag Fair, Björk's "Medúlla"

 

For reference, DJ Poseur gets the scale wrong when comparing the number of views for YouTube videos.  As of late Feb. 2021, “Gangnam Style” and “Baby Shark” are in the billions, not hundreds of millions like Pentatonix.  Jacob Collier’s “Djesse Vol. 2” has about 25 thousand views.  Hyperpotamus’ “Delta” album has a little over a dozen views.    

Obscurity Quiz HhB1: A Cappella (Mostly)

Welcome a new cohost, HannahBackward, to give her thoughts on AMG, a cappella music, and whether megasites like Amazon and YouTube are too evil for OoO.  An addendum cross-references AMG user ratings with YouTube views for extra empirical excitement!

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