Canon Blue

You diehard 3Hivers (we love you!) will recall that Canon Blue was originally posted just three months ago. But Daniel James is giving away the new Halcyon EP for free, and it’s so lovely (especially the title track) that I felt it deserved a little more plug time. Unzip and enjoy! Canon Blue is the creation of Daniel James, a Nashville-based do-everything musician who came to my attention not through any tangential southern connection but through his European label Rumracket. That could be because he’s not your typical Nashville kind of dude. Or is he? James may prefer digital to analog, keyboards to six-strings, drum machines to high-hats, but at heart he’s a singer-songwriter in a town that cultivates and nourishes them. Good thing because Canon Blue’s helium-filled harmonies, industrial beats and sweet falsetto deserve all the cultivation they can get.

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It’s only been about seven months since I first posted Efterklang, but they have a new album out and a fantastic, playful, M.C. Escher-esque video and, well, it’s all very exciting. Both “Cutting Ice to Snow” and “Mirador” (the video track) showcase Efterklang’s beautiful knack for creating soundtracks to films that haven’t been made — though I guess in the case of “Mirador” that’s only half true. Whichever way you look at it, it’s a sublime way to add a lilting soundtrack to your own never-ending film. Oh, and for those of you in Europe, Efterklang will be on tour all season, so go to their website and see if they’ll be near you…

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Kama Aina

I like to think, mainly because it makes me feel less pathetic, that everyone who went to college and studied something other than business administration had some kind of youthfully pretentious obsession. Mine was Marshall McLuhan, the new media oracle from the Great White North who looked like a professorial Salvador Dali, had a cameo in a Woody Allen movie (nay, the best. cameo. ever.) and was an astoundingly salient bullshitter. I ain’t saying I don’t still love the man, just that nearly a decade after graduation it’s funny to look back and think of taking my dog-eared copy of War and Peace in the Global Village to my bartending gig at Benihana and intensely and conspicuously reading it between mixing Mai-Tais—as if any of my Japanese coworkers gave a damn. We were so cool once, weren’t we? Anyhow, I think of McLuhan’s fabled “global village” now because two of my favorite Japanese acts (the other one is Cacoy) this year have come to me from the Danish label Rumraket, which is doing for non-European music in Europe what Minty Fresh has been doing for European music in the U.S. of late—namely, rockin’ it. Kama Aina, whose name is Hawaiian and whose sole member is Takuji Aoyagi, doesn’t rock it, per se, he soothes it with loopy little lullabies built around clean, undistorted percussion, guitar and other sweet, naturalistic sounds. “Hotaru” is prettiest on headphones, where you can nearly see each bang and pluck. But if you’re just not that visual, check out the video for “Glasgow Sky,” which is as inventive as Bjork and twice as contemplative.

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Cacoy is a Japanese electro trio possibly named for a Filipino martial arts legend and signed to a Danish record label. Their song Piracle Pa doesn’t seem to be from any language, but the soothing organ and lilting female vocals sound like French/Canadian/British indie-pop darlings Stereolab. “Yoko Majikick Ono” seems to be named for the Japanese-born U.S. resident, and with its rubbery, buoyant cornucopia of digital burps, it sounds like a track from U.S.-born Josh Presseisen’s Japanese-named project, Marumari. In other words, it makes for good listening no matter where you lay your headphones.

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