Irrelevant to the sentiments in that post. Personally I love it; there's a lot there and I'm looking forward to feeling it out.
That post was born in the 'New albums to look forward to' thread, but it got long so I moved it here. You don't have to consider it canon R.A.D. if you don't want to; it's more just personal thoughts on music geekery centered around a particular record, like the piece I wrote about that Nice album, or the Golden Shoulders one.
Post by blacksmile on Mar 30, 2011 13:51:59 GMT -5
Great post H3G. Loved it when you mentioned that waiting for the newspaper was akin to waiting for an album on the day it came out. It has been many years since I had the opportunity to sttand in the cold waiting to be one of the first to hold the newest album in hand! I honestly think the last time I did that was when Pearl Jam released Vitalogy on vinyl 3 weeks before the CD. I miss those days, so thanks for nostalgia trip.
Last Edit: Mar 30, 2011 13:52:23 GMT -5 by blacksmile
I wouldn't be surprised if you are picturing me peeling a carrot with a staple gun.
Post by Horned Fuckin' Gramma on Mar 30, 2011 13:55:11 GMT -5
The last time I waited in front of a record store on the day an album was released was 9/11/01. TMBG's Mink Car and Ben Folds' Rockin' the Suburbs came out on that day, and by 10:00am I literally couldn't think of anything more important that I should have been doing.
Post by Horned Fuckin' Gramma on Apr 28, 2011 16:00:24 GMT -5
Hip Tanaka - The Sky is Smaller Than the Sea
First off, I'll buy a beer at Sasquatch for anyone here who has heard this record before. I'd be that impressed. I'd be eleven dollars worth of impressed.
I know there are a lot of hardcore video game nerds here, so it is possible that some of you will recognize the name Hip Tanaka. For decades, Hirokazu 'Hip' Tanaka has been a composer for the Nintendo company, soundtracking such games as Kid Icarus, Dr. Mario, Tetris and Metroid. He is arguably the finest and most respected 8-bit or 'chipchune' composer in the world. To clear up any confusion, Hirokazu Tanaka is in no way connected to the band called Hip Tanaka aside from the appropriation of his name.
Hip Tanaka is a little-to-zero known local band from Allston, MA. They released three albums between 2000 and 2003 and then disappeared for the rest of the decade. Their albums have remained in print via Portland's own CDBaby.com, which is where I initially purchased a copy of The Sky is Smaller Than the Sea on a whim. (For those of you who have never perused CDBaby.com, it is a fantastic site where artists are able to self-release albums; it is equipped with an incredible 'Sounds Like...' search function which will create a list of artists with music available on the site who sound like or have been influenced by more familiar artists you already enjoy.) In spite of the moderate success of a couple of their singles on college radio stations, Hip Tanaka has never had any mainstream recognition whatsoever and following the release of their third album, 2003's Splinter, they vanished, leaving behind absolutely no trace of their existence to be found on the internet. Googling 'Hip Tanaka' is useless, for reasons I have explained.
As a fan, this disappearance was concerning to me for more than just the obvious disappointment over a lack of any further Hip Tanaka releases. The legend goes that, when pianist/songwriter Alex Zavracky met guitarist/songwriter Brendan Quigley, Zavracky had been told that he had sixteen months to live. The chaotic melodicism of Hip Tanaka's first two albums, Le Jihad and The Sky is Smaller Than the Sea, sound very much like it was born of two new but dear friends trying to get all of their wonderful ideas out before the timer stopped for one of them.
So suddenly the music stopped. What happened? I was convinced Zavracky had finally passed away, and although that was distressing it wasn't surprising, based on the information we had. More on that in a minute.
The Sky is Smaller Than the Sea is a concept album about Charles Lindbergh. Those who know their history will remember that Charles Lindbergh achieved massive fame in 1927 for being the first man to complete a solo, non-stop manned trans-Atlantic flight. He then went on to ferociously campaign for the advancement of commercial aviation before his infant son Charles Jr. was kidnapped and murdered in March of 1932. Following this tragedy, Lindbergh and his wife fled the country to Europe, where they remained until World War II hit fever pitch after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
As unusual as it seems for a topic to base a straight-faced concept album on, there is no shortage of interesting material in the story of Charles Lindbergh and it works incredibly well. It is less similar to the ponderous odes to Anne Frank which Jeff Mangum wrote for In the Aeroplane Over the Sea and more akin to They Might Be Giants' curiosity for historical Dr. Garbanzoures displayed in songs such as 'Meet James Ensor', 'James K. Polk' and 'She Thinks She's Edith Head'.
Soaring anthems loaded with the imagery and excitement of man's new-found power of flight make up most of the first part of the album, particularly the title track, which encapsulates the combination of awe and terror Lindbergh must have felt once he reached the halfway point of his famous journey. "I Don't Know What You Want Me to Say" addresses the tragedy of the loss of his son, and the introspective walking bass line underlies what sounds like a pitch-perfect representation of the inescapable panic two parents must face together and individually when they realize that the very worst has happened.
War explodes in the breathtaking 'Walpurgisnacht', one of the lyrical highlights of the album:
Trapped in his castle And they're coming down on Slim They were as scared of the monsters As the monsters were of him...
...So please, won't you Dr. Garbanzoht with me This crushing sense of doom? With all the Dr. Garbanzoures in the shadows At the edges of the room?
'I Don't Know What You Want Me to Say' and 'Walpurgisnacht' momentarily transform Lindbergh from a tragic historical anecdote into a person we can start to recognize from our own experience: a person who realizes that no matter how far or fast you fly, no safe place remains a safe place indefinitely.
There are vestiges of early Weezer in the production style and an obvious love of Meat Puppets and TMBG in the songwriting of both Zavracky and Quigley. There are so many brilliant melodic flourishes on this record that as one song morphs into the next you begin to feel dizzy, like you were on a carnival ride which is causing you legitimate concern for your safety. As World War II flashes past your eyes, the sense of time fast-forwards to the moment in history that Lindbergh unknowingly paved a segment of the path for as man lands on the moon. Have we outrun tragedy and its endless pursuit? Or are we still plagued by 'the Dr. Garbanzoures in the shadows at the edges of the room'?
I'm sure Alex Zavracky wondered too. I know I did, for eight years following the release of The Sky is Smaller Than the Sea's follow-up Splinter. Was he gone? Died in obscurity? In spite of the endlessly frustrating attempts to find any mention of Hip Tanaka's continued existence on the internet, I kept looking. Last Thursday, finally, there was something to find. After a long hiatus, all of the original members of Hip Tanaka reunited for a show at a club in Allston called Great Scott on Saturday, April 23rd, 2011. That was it, the mystery was solved, and although no mention has been made of new music being recorded it is satisfying to me to know that those guys are still out there singing these songs.
This record is an absolute delight, and for the many fans of early 00's power pop that I know inhabit this board I do not doubt that there are new fans among you. I have good news for those folks, because right now you can download The Sky is Smaller Than the Sea legitimately and for free from Hip Tanaka's freshly minted website at hiptanaka.tumblr.com/. I encourage everyone to do so, it's a wonderful record that hasn't lost any of its luster in the ten years it has been in heavy rotation for your dear old Horned Gramma. I suggest buckling yourself in for the whole ride, but to get a sense of the greatness of their sound the songs I mentioned specifically in this article are great starting points. 'The Sky is Smaller Than the Sea', 'I Don't Know What You Want Me To Say' and 'Walpurgisnacht'.
Trust me on this one, I think you'll be glad you did. That address again: