By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
By Falyn Freyman
By Hans Morgenstern
Múm, Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy: "This is their new album that just came out. There are so many sounds and instruments, you feel like you're discovering music. I love that feeling, like, 'Wow, I've never heard that before; what an interesting way to combine things.'"
Ruby, Misheet Wara Ehsasi: "What I love about this album is not necessarily the songs but the sounds of the instruments — there's some strings in some of these songs that are really cool. Ruby is from Egypt. I don't really know much about her, but I just love the sound of her voice. You can think of the voice as another instrument when you don't know the language, and I almost think of that as an advantage."
M.I.A., Kala: "I love it when somebody does something and the bar just gets higher. That's what happened here. [British-Sri Lankan M.I.A. created Kala at different locations around the world after being denied a visa into the U.S. to record.] Our government is harassing a lot of people. It's getting more and more expensive for presenters to bring musicians in from Islamic countries. It's getting harder to get good information, and music is information."
Nathamuni Brothers, Madras 1974: "This is a cool record made on somebody's porch in India. The Brothers' group is called a brass band, but it's not really a brass band. There's a certain genius in India for taking something and just making it become something else."
Michael Hearst, Songs for Ice Cream Trucks: "Everybody likes ice cream! When I heard this I was like, 'Oh, I want to make a kids' album.' Maybe because I'm a kid myself."
Ge Gan-Ru, Lost Style: "Margaret Leng Tan [who performs on Lost Style] is, like, the foremost toy piano player in the world. On ['Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!'] she's playing all kinds of toys that she found in Chinatown in New York."
Various Artists, Ethnic Minority Music of Southern Laos: "Ethnic Minority Music of Southern Laos is one release of some 35 [releases] on that label. I think I have all of the Sublime Frequencies releases. The Iraqi piece we play I first heard when this particular label released a collection of Iraqi pop music from the '70s and '80s. Basically, I get everything they do — you never know what you're going to hear. There's amazing stuff on this."
Joe Meek, Vampires, Cowboys, Spacemen & Spooks: The Very Best of Joe Meek's Instrumentals: "Some people will say this is cheese; I think it's cool. This is a great double CD. Before [Beatles producer] George Martin, this was the guy, but he died tragically. I think through an accident of timing he got overshadowed, but I love him. I feel better every time I hear 'Night of the Vampire.'"
Bettye LaVette, The Scene of the Crime: "Someone sent me The Scene of the Crime, which I can recommend. I have a great idea — at least I like it — for an album of songs, and now I've finally heard the right voice to join us. We'll see if she might be interested."
Orange County: Aquabat Christian Jacobs gets eastbound and down.
BY DAVE SEGAL
Christian Jacobs lives in a world of boldface, Day-Glo images, a realm in which all sentences end in exclamation marks and fun is as common as oxygen. A founding member of the Huntington Beach, California, synth-pop-punk-ska band the Aquabats! and co-creator (with Scott Schultz) of new children's television show Yo Gabba Gabba!, Jacobs (a.k.a. the MC Bat Commander) assumes a cartoonish personae with earnestness, and revels in goofiness with as much gusto as Jay-Z and 50 Cent luxuriate in their self-perpetuated, overblown mythologies.
As frontman for the Aquabats!, Jacobs and his bandmates don superhero garb as they act out a comic-book-style storyline in which the group combats evil through its damnably catchy and ludicrously peppy songs that fall somewhere between Oingo Boingo and Devo at their most accessible. They've been doing so since 1994, over four studio albums and several international tours.
Weathering several personnel changes since then, the Aquabats! continue to soldier on in their quest to subdue nefarious nemeses; to that end, they're currently recording a new album and touring sporadically.
Recently, however, Jacobs's time and creative energy also have been channeled into Yo Gabba Gabba!, which debuted on Nick Jr. in August and will be aired on the Noggin cable channel starting New Year's Eve. One of those rare kids' shows that appeal to adults, it's become a cult favorite, garnering much YouTube synergy. YGG! appears destined to launch its on-air talent, including DJ Lance Rock, Ricky Fitness, the toy monsters Brobee, Foofa, Muno, Plex and Toodee, and Jacobs himself, reprising his MC Bat Commander character into something verging on mainstream stardom.
The show has drawn comparisons to such programs as H.R. Pufnstuf, Pee-Wee's Playhouse, The Muppet Show and Banana Splits Adventure Hour. The regular appearance of celebrities and music groups — including the Shins, the Aggrolites, Mya, Supernova, Rah-Zel of the Roots, Tony Hawk, Elijah Wood and Biz Markie — also harks back to MTV's golden age. If that weren't enough, Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh provides graphics for the show.