A while back I wrote about my big love for indie compilation albums--one of the joys of being a music fan is finding a great song by a band I've never heard of in a compilation CD, tracking them down on the Web, and, a few weeks or months later, seeing them play live. This is how I discovered a lot of favorite groups (off the top of my head: The Kitchen Gorilla, Jimmy Pops, Contrary Parade, Mix Market, etc. etc.).
Here are a few other multi-artist albums I've enjoyed recently:
Galaxie 500 #Sugar; #Plum; #Fairy
This three-part compilation CD series is extraordinary: in a market where full-length albums usually sell for more than 2000 yen (US$20+), each of these CDs only cost 500 yen (that is, under five bucks). But, in spite of that low price tag, the music featured in this series uniformly sound brilliant and innovative. 'You Get What You Pay For' doesn't apply in this case.
Included are several indie artists I know, including Shugo Tokumaru, Apartment and 4 Bonjour's Parties, but lots of shoegazer, indie pop, psychedelia, electronica and other genre groups that are new to me; of those, I especially liked the bands Hot Fudge Sundae, Muffin (the Japanese food infatuation continues...) and Early Bird.
The compilation series is released by Finderpop Label, who also produce CDs by Apartment. I don't know how they can afford to make the CDs only 500 yen each--are they trying to subvert capitalism in the music industry? They've only released 500 copies of each installation, so if you are interested, get them at Amazon Japan before they run out.
* One of the CDs available here (maybe).
Easy Living vol. 1
This compilation, released by a label called Philia Records, features mellow-out guitar pop, neo-acoustic, soft rock-type songs. It's probably not for everyone: there's nothing even remotely heavy or hardcore about this collection. If you are the sort of person who spends days off sipping tea at home and glancing through coffee table art books, this CD might be for you--it will make good background music. I like the contributions by margarets hope, roly poly rag bear, Kobayashi Shino and frenesi. Easy Living also contains the only recorded track I know of by the now-defunct duo Harum (formerly Snow Ball), a nice tune called "Answer Song" I listened to so much for a time that it became sort of a personal soundtrack of the 2006 autumn season.
* CD available here.
GOOD GIRLS DON'T! XXXTRA
K.O.G.A. Records, which is behind this compilation, might be my favorite indie label in the world. It's known most of all for its fab girl-rock/punk groups, though it also has great guy bands (including label owner Mr. Koga's own band Rocket K), and its extensive catalogue contains many treasures, including the debut albums of Luminous Orange and Macdonald Duck Eclair.
This collection, a follow-up to the also excellent GOOD GIRLS DON'T, contains new songs by polyABC, Mix Market, Macdonald Duck Eclair, a cute new tune by Jimmy Pops called "C-H-O-C-O-L-A-T-E" that I play all the time on Japan Live Radio ('Let's go to the supermarket/to buy a pound of chocolate/your favorite one/do you like bitter or sweet/less or more cacao/as you like it...C,H,O,C,O, Chocolate'), and many more gems, including the last The Clicks song I know of before they quit, called "Cast A Spell".
* CD available here.