Brooklyn got a Japanese jolt Friday as the positive energy powered Happyfunsmile blew up grungy-intimate Pete’s Candy Store. Their set mixed it up well, taking the audience on a trip from traditional Okinawan folk songs to saccharine sweet ballads to dance-yourself-silly Okinawan pop. Sparkling stuff. Summer ain’t right without a soundtrack and there it was.
Highlights include the pinch-yourself-it’s-too-good Fukko Bushi that put Brian up front, a fantastic power ballad late in the set that featured all three singers, and pretty much any downtempo song showcasing Miho’s amazing voice. Backing band Bill, Ryan, and Wynn were tight and it was clear everyone on stage was having as much fun as the audience. (Plus, they looked hot doing it thanks to Nam.) Goosebumps, people — the good kind. Taste it!
And speaking of goosebump music, a bunch of fantastic albums just hit my headphones all at once. I guess summer does that. Here are some of the best:
- Lost and Safe by The Books – a stunning combination of acoustic instruments, haunting vocals, and sampled “found sound”. Nick and Paul have been refining their style since 2002 and this album straight nails it. One wicked track among many: Be Good to Them Always
- Pushin’ On by Quantic Soul Orchestra – Will goes for a second acoustic party record after his 2004 electronic knockout Mishaps Happening and succeeds nicely with an album that would make James Brown proud. OWTAM: Pushin’ On
- Vaudeville Villain by Viktor Vaughn – one from the archives, this 2003 release from Vaughn aka MF Doom aka Daniel Dumile is required listening for anyone who appreciates his later work. Each track goes in an unexpected head-bobbing direction and the lyrics never stop throwing new ideas at you. OWTAM: Never Dead
- Time Will Make You Mine by Shrine for the Black Madonna – another from the archives, Shrine’s fiery blend of Bad Brains rawness with Robyn Hitchcock style vocals and jazz chops leaves you praying for a full-length follow-up to this 2002 EP. OWTAM: Runners
Great sounds and warm weather can’t help but make you smile. Oh, oh, oh summertime rolls.