In Rotation is a regular Opus feature where I post short reviews of noteworthy music, both new and old, that I’ve been listening to lately.
After releasing several albums on Sweden’s venerable Labrador label, The Mary Onettes jumped over to Cascine in 2015, releasing several singles. As you’d expect from Jönköping’s favorite sons, their new “Cola Falls” single is absolutely gorgeous, as is its b-side, “Wait Out a Ghost.”
The ’80s influences are still present in the song’s chiming guitars and melancholy melodies, but the band is less beholden to such influences than they’ve been in the past. The result is still dreamy pop music of the finest variety, and The Mary Onettes pull it off effortlessly.
When people think of Japanese music, it’s probably a safe bet that J-pop is the first thing that comes to mind. (That, or “Japanoise” artists like Merzbow, Masonna, and Aube.) However, Japan has an incredibly vibrant and diverse indie and electronic music scenes. Mondo Grosso, the nom de guerre of producer/DJ Shinichi Osawa, bridges the gap between the two on this most recent album 2017’s 何度でも新しく生まれる (trans. Reborn Again and Always Starting New).
“ラビリンス” (trans. “Labyrinth”) is the album’s finest moment, a soaring and pulsing electronic track graced with the vocals of actress Hikari Mitsushima (who also dances through the rain-soaked Hong Kong streets in the song’s video).
The Blue Nile’s Hats is a true classic of an album, albeit a very understated one, filled with songs of subdued-yet-evocative arrangements and Paul Buchanan’s soulful and unabashedly romantic vocals. Released in 1989, the album’s influence and stature has only grown over the years, and it has appeared on several “Best Albums” lists.
More importantly, Hats has influenced numerous artists, with the most recent being Pure Bathing Culture. Indeed, Pure Bathing Culture grew so enamored with the album that they decided to cover Hats in its entirety as a vinyl-only release for Turntable Kitchen’s Sounds Delicious subscription service.
As a preview, Turntable Kitchen has released Pure Bathing Culture’s take on “Saturday Night.” This may sound like faint praise, but it’s a very respectful cover. Vocalist Sarah Versprille is joined by Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard while Daniel Hindman’s shimmering guitar textures give the song an appropriately dreamy hue.