Yamasuki Singers – Yamamoto Kakapote

This track comes off of a concept album called Le Monde Fabuleux Des Yamasuki developed by composers Daniel Vangarde and Jean Kluger. While both had been active songwriters and producers before then and since, this album has been a cult classic since its release thanks to the idiosyncratic combination of a children’s chorus singing in Japanese over fuzzed-out guitar and drums. It’s definitely worth listening to the whole album, as what seems like a bit of a gimmicky setup produces undeniably catchy songs, provided you can get past the Orientalist overtones of the whole project. Some other fun trivia: Another song from the album, Aieoa, was covered by Bananarama on their first album Deep Sea Skiving under the name Aie-A-Mwana. The song Kono Samurai from this album was sampled by Erykah Badu on her track The Healer. While the name Daniel Vangarde probably doesn’t mean much to most people, his son Thomas Bangalter is probably a bit more well-known at least by reputation, as he is one half of Daft Punk.

Chris Stamey & the dBs – (I Thought You) Wanted to Know

This track comes off a single released in 1978. Chris Stamey and the dBs were one of the groups that sprouted out of the fertile musical soil of New York in the late 1970s, with groups like Television, The Feelies, and post-Big Star Alex Chilton coalescing around Ork Records. In addition to being released as a single, this track also appears on a Numero Group compilation focused on Ork Records output. It was penned by Televsion member Richard Lloyd, coming just after the release of Television’s best known album Marquee Moon. I was torn between choosing this song and a collaboration between Stamey and Alex Chilton called “The Summer Sun” which came out in 1977 as well. Chris Stamey has continued releasing solo work and working with the dBs from the late 1970s to the present, with his most recent release Euphoria coming in 2015 and a release under the name The dBs, Falling Off the Sky, coming just a few years earlier. Lloyd released an album of Jimi Hendrix covers a few years ago called The Jamie Neverts Story, which appears to be a reference to a mutual friend Lloyd shared with Hendrix early in Lloyd’s life, but as there is no citation on Wikipedia it doesn’t meet the strict standards and practices here at Orion’s Bastard. But you don’t have to figure that out to enjoy this power pop hidden gem, so try not to stress about it.

DIIV – Dopamine

Dopamine is the lead single DIIV released in advance of a double LP Is The Is Are that came out in February 2016 on Captured Tracks. This was a tough one to pick just one track, but I’ve been humming Dopamine since I’ve heard it so it won out in the end, although “Healthy Moon” and “Valentine” were close behind. DIIV is the brainchild of Zachary Cole Smith which he formed in 2011 following his departure from the touring lineup of Beach Fossils. He’s joined live by Andrew Bailey and and Ben Wolf, though it’s unclear who was present for the recording since Smith, who played both drums and guitar at various times for Beach Fossils, could have recorded multiple tracks. In addition to digital media from Bandcamp, Is The Is Are is also being released on LP, CD, and cassette, all of which can be purchased at this link. You can check out their debut, Oshin on Bandcamp as well and be sure to keep an eye out for them on the festival circuit this summer. A full list of their upcoming gigs can be found here.