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I have no idea why I didn’t become a fan of Japanese ingenue/art/lounge/dirty-voiced singer UA (a chosen name that means both “flower” and “kill” in Swahili) at some point over the last decade and a half of her career. I say with honesty that I regret it. I hate myself for it. I’m annoyed to just be discovering her just now, simply because she just released a covers album to celebrate her 15th anniversary, and it’s fucking amazing. Lord knows I respect a brilliant cover—especially when the material being covered is the kind of stuff that seem far too difficult, important, or obscure to do justice.
On Kaba, UA applies gritty, raw, funky vocals to songs of all those varieties, both Japanese and American. For the English speakers, she tackles a track that perhaps too many people know intimately, “Under the Bridge,” yet breathes new life and a unique motivation into the words originally penned from rock bottom in 90s Los Angeles. She also modernizes Radiohead’s “No Surprises,” simplifies Björk’s “Hyperballad” and shakes up Aretha Franklin’s “Day Dreaming.”
The album is available via download on iTunes, and you can also listen to samples free on Battlestar Records’ site. I’ve included a few teasers of the aforementioned songs below, though. Enjoy!
Continue reading ROCK OF ASIAN: UA’s Cover Album, Kaba
Filed under: 15th Anniversary Album, Aretha Franklin, Awesome Japanese Musicians, Awesome Weirdos, Bjork, Cover Albums, Cover Songs, Japan, Kaba, Ladies Who Rock, Lounge Singers, Love Her Aesthetic, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Singers, UA
The New York Times reports:
“Witnesses say angry Tibetan crowds burned shops, cars, military vehicles and at least one tourist bus.
The chaotic scene was the latest, and most violent, confrontation in a series of protests that began on Monday and now represent a major challenge to the ruling Communist Party as it prepares to play host to the Olympic Games in August.”
Related to this story, reports also show that numerous ethnic Tibetans were overheard chanting, “See how we DO, Björk? Now this is fuckin’ protest.“*
*No Tibetans were actually overheard making the above-mentioned comments, but we sure as hell think one should have.
BJÖRK: (chirping) Tibet! Tibet!
CHINA: You’re going to have to quit that.
BJÖRK: Quit what? Bing nanananannananananaa ork ork ulp! It’s a political protest.
CHINA: Saying “Tibet! Tibet!” at the end of a song is hardly a protest. Where’s your picket sign? Where is your backup research?
BJÖRK: Happppeeeeeeeeyyyy! Tiny country sad. I feel gindleoy ree ree ree ree brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr veery small!
CHINA: You did it again!
CHINA: Stop it. This is more complex than that.
BJÖRK: I like that sound. Plex. Plex plex plex. Hoooooooooooo com plex drrrrrrreeedle!
CHINA: You know, you broke Chinese law.
BJÖRK: I have no room eeeeen my brrrain for laws! Lai ay ay ay ay ay ay brrrrrrrrrr drrrrrrrrrrrr ay ay ay ay! Plunk.
(She thinks. Wondrous pause.)
BJÖRK: (Suddenly serious) I’ve hurt Chinese feelings? Don’t you think you’ve hurt the feelings of the Tibetans for over half a century?
CHINA: (Taken aback) Well, I…
BJÖRK: Borscht! Borscht! Borscht! Shunga doo shunga doo da da shawee!!! Arrrrrrrrrrrererer.
CHINA: Never mind.
CHINA: Please don’t come back.
BJÖRK: Woo! Hoo! I’m an owl! HOOO! HOOO!
CHINA: Somebody please kill me. (Reconsiders) No, you.
Naturally, many Chinese were upset. CNN reports:
“‘If she really did this, then this woman really makes people throw up,’ one comment on popular Chinese Web site Sina.com said.”
…to which the tiny Icelandic singer chirped in response:
“If China really does turn a blind eye to the human rights abuses in Tibet, I’m going to throw up into a red cup and then drink it and then throw up again!”
*Björk hasn’t actually officially responded, but we’re pretty sure that if she did she could make a pretty good case for her “Tibet” stance. That said, her case would probably be communicated entirely in high-pitched, staccato, Icelan-glish gibberish.
Thank you kindly, Intern Jasmine!
Why She’s a Babe: Cuz of that little pouty mouth. Cuz she needs to eat a sandwich, maybe a couple, but we still find her hot. Cuz she looks like a space creature sprung from the mind of Bowie or Björk.
For more high-fashion hotness, check out Asian Models.
There are certain times when you discover a girl so strange and cool and adorable that she can only be compared to a perfect rubber tree or a spicy cinnamon latte or a floppy newborn duckling. Such is the case with:
Learn more about her debut release: Though, I’m Just Me on her official website and watch her break three–count ‘em–three mirrors (27 years of bad luck and she doesn’t give a dayum!) in the video for “And I Found This Boy.”
And here’s a thought: I move that from here on out we refer to super-duper adorable things as “Maias.” Or “rubber trees.” Whatever you think.
Friday night at Coachella was a bit of a bust. Sonic Youth had just flown in from China and played such tinny, jetlagged versions of “Candle” and “100%” that I actually began to think that they were too old to rock. Blasphemy, I know. The same could have been said for me and my sweaty ass, as I fell asleep during Interpoo and found myself fending off waifs half my age who were trying the entire night–in vain–to buy my beer bracelet off me. Most of these indie-rock chicks were decked out in the latest Ukrainian Hooker Couture, an example of which I found on the very funny carpetblog.
Bjork closed out the night with songs from her forthcoming album, Volta. I considered revoking her Honorasian status after that funereal, horn-heavy dirge-a-thon, but walked out instead along with the rest of the bjummed-out, red-ankled crowd.
The best performance came from The Jesus and Mary Chain, who reunited for the desert festival. They looked like accountants on casual Friday, but they were tight.
Scarlett Jugshansson joined lead singer Jim Reid for “Just Like Honey,” that Prozacian anthem forever marred by that pointless Sofia Coppola movie. I can say with certainty that Jugs was the prettiest Ukrainian Hooker of them all.
Speaking of working girls, Amy Winehouse played before sunset in probably the most-anticipated Friday show. Her throwback voice is quite powerful, and I love the fact that she seems to have stepped right out of a Diane Arbus photograph. But when she busted out Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thang),” and all the shirtless white folk around me started bobbing their heads like they were at a Phish concert,
Our Lauryn, who art in Jersey, hallowed be thy dopeness. Thy new album come, thy record sales be done, on earth as it is on the Billboard charts. Give this white girl this day a can of whoop-ass, and forgive her her trespasses, as we forgive her trespasses against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from this blue-eyed soul hooey. For thine is the real real, the power, and the glory. White people singing R&B and being held to a much lower standard are tired, forever and ever, amen.
Bjork’s new album, Volta, produced by Timbaland, debuts on May 8. Normally I don’t go in for white girls who do racial drag…
…but damn, she really does look like one of us. And I love her for the Sugarcubes and Debut, still one of the most danceable records, the swan dress, kicking that reporter’s ass for no good reason, being married to the incomparable Matthew Barney, and her astonishing performance in one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen, Dancer in the Dark.
Plus what I read on Style.com today seals the deal:
“While her East-Asian features and face-framing jet-black hair led to taunts of “China Girl” as a child, her atypical looks are now part of her impish appeal—as is her eccentric taste in clothes.”
Work it, my Honorasian Sista! See you at Coachella!