Mt. Ka’ala Power Outage

Construction at the Mt. Ka’ala is set to occur later this week, in order to install a new pole to address sagging lines and resolve issues.  As a result, Mt. Ka’ala will be having a short power outage that will cause us to lose our North Shore transmission for a short period of time.

Our North Shore signal will be down temporarily on Friday, February 13 and Tuesday, February 17, 2015.  The downtime will be from 8:30am to 3:30pm on both days.  Our Honolulu and Windward frequencies will not be affected.  Listeners in the North Shore can tune in during the downtime via our audio streaming feed, or on Oceanic Digital Cable Ch. 866.

We apologize in advance, but thank you for your consideration.

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The Happyoblivion Best of 2014

Here we go in depth a little bit more on the best indie pop music for 2014. Tune in to the Happyoblivion show every Saturday 12-3pm for your indie pop fix!

Top single of 2014:

teen runnings Teen Runnings – High School Love

Tokyo’s own Teen Runnings, who morphed from the previous outfit known as Friends a few years back, has really hit their stride.  Everything they put out has shown improvement over their already previous excellent work.  I thought their song “Sightseeing” was great, but then I heard “High School Love” and just couldn’t quit humming this track while walking with a bit more pep in my step.  It’s a combination of shoegaze and 60’s inflection that just hits the right spot.


Top EP of 2014:

Marine Life - Fool of a Kind Marine Life – Fool of a Kind EP
Big Sur is my featured track from this wonderful 4 song debut EP.  San Francisco based Marine Life just hits the right spots, reflecting a sound most similar to the Cardigans at their best.  They found themselves signed to the great Elefant Records out of Spain, which makes them labelmates with the School, Lia Pamina, and the Yearning.  The sound is pure 60s influenced female vocals on just the perfect bed of guitars, synths, and drums, moving forward quite easily and nicely.  They are often described as “sunshiny,” and I believe this is actually an apt description, though they can also work in the hint of melancholy just as beautifully. 

Best 10 Albums of 2014:

soft science - detour 10. Soft Science – “Detour” 

Holiday Flyer was one of my favorite bands in the 90s, so when Katie Haley (of Holiday Flyer) formed Soft Science with bandmates Ross and Matt Levine (they are twin brothers), and bass player Mason DeMusey, my ears perked up.  This Sacramento band really brings a nice solid guitar-based sound to the table.  My favorite track is “Blue,’ but the entire album really is solid.   Some of their songs are reminiscent of Velocity Girl, to whom they have frequently been compared.  I would venture to say there is also an element of Elastica in the mix.  Either way, one of the top albums of the year!


king of prussia 9. King of Prussia – “Zonian Girls… And the Echoes That Surround Us All”

More is better?  Well, maybe, because this is a double album jam-packed with 20 songs, and actually consistently good throughout, despite a contrast between the upbeat first half and a more lyrical and relaxed second half. “Zonian Girls” gives us the sunnier and poppiest songs, including “Actuary,” “Anna Nordeen,” “Every Girl,” and “Carolina, Carolina.”  “The Echoes that Surround Us All” gives is a more folk-twinged feel in a more subdued and contemplative mood, with such gems as “A Parting, A Loss,” “Storming the Beach,” and The Sun Will Never Rise.”  Frontman Brandon Hanick wrote all the songs while he was in Barcelona, Spain, but recorded the album in Barcelona, his hometown Athens, Georgia, and Bordeaux, France.


The Bilinda Butchers 8. The Bilinda Butchers – “Heaven”

Named after guitarist/vocalist Bilinda Butcher from My Bloody Valentine, this San Francisco based band brings us their debut full-length album.  Instead of just a collection of hit songs from prior EPs and singles, they challenged themselves with this concept album.  “Heaven” is a diary of a young Japanese woman in the 1800s who was married to a cruel nobleman, and she meets a young sympathetic poet, but unfortunately this relationship is discovered.  She is banished far away and eventually hears word of the poet’s death, hence the songs “The Lover’s Suicide” and “Heaven Holds a Place.”  Sadness, melancholy, dreams, hope–all wrapped in beautiful verse and song.  This “dream pop” album fits in perfectly with a show that calls itself the Happyoblivion.


Primitives - Spin-O-Rama 7. The Primitives – “Spin-O-Rama”
British indie poppers from Coventry, the Primitives re-formed in 2009 and this is the very long awaited new album.  They released a cover album a couple years back, but this is the first new album in over 2 decades for a band famously known for “Crash,” “Sick of It,” and “Secrets.”  This is the music I remember!  They could have easily fallen apart from expectations like other re-formed bands, but in fact they bring the same great sound, catchy hooks, jangly guitars, and flowing synths–they haven’t lost a step at all.  Channeling a bit of the 60’s and melding it with the late eighties sensibilities, yet updating it for a fresh current sound for 2014, this album is truly excellent from beginning to end. Breezy and moving quickly without anything to drag it down, it clocks in at 29 minutes.   It is fun, cheerful, and just the right pick-me-up with many stand out tracks such as “Spin-O-Rama,” “Lose the Reason,” “Petals,” and “Dandelion Seed.”
juvenile juvenile - our great escape 6. Juvenile Juvenile – “Our Great Escape”

Dream-pop with the shoegazey sound from Osake, the are like the Japanese version of the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, perhaps with a little more guitar.  In fact, Juvenile Juvenile played with the Pains of Being Pure at Heart when they toured Japan.  All the pieces fit together well and the sound is familiar in many ways.  Super producer Kensei Ogata was involved and the end product is one of the best albums of the year from Japan.


The-Pains-Of-Being-Pure-At-Heart-Days-Of-Abandon 5. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – “Days of Abandon”

Regressing towards the mean is not necessarily a bad thing in this case, as the Pains of Being Pure at Heart tighten up their sound and go more consistently upbeat and synth-pop with melodious vocals.  In fact, this album brings us the most pop-sounding album for the band on their third full-length release.  Highlights include shiny pop gems such as “Until the Sun Explodes” and “Masokissed.”  Consistency is the new hallmark!  Oh, and “Simple and Sure” caught the ear of the folks at Hershey’s Chocolate and made it into their commercial, so the band will be flush with money to keep making more music…


the fin. - days with uncertainty 4. The fin. – “Days with Uncertainty”

The fin. (yes, the period is part of their name) have been releasing singles and EPs previously, and their first LP includes some previously released songs.  The fuzzy vocals over a multilayered synth track summons forth the movement of clouds through the sky and perhaps the overall haziness of day-to-day life.  Hailing from Kobe, Japan, this 4 piece band has a nice sound that carries us along like a current.  At a basic level the sound is shoegaze/chillwave, but really, take a good listen, because it is much more than that.
The Yearning - Dreamboats & Lemonade 3. The Yearning -“Dreamboats & Lemonade”

This debut LP from the Yearning brings us the sweet 50s revival sound. They sound as if they were plucked straight from that era and produced by Phil Spector.  Maddie Dobie is the lead singer with the wondrous voice, and was only 15 at the inception of the band in 2012. Yes, there is some sadness buried within the lyrics, but the overall feeling is one of hope and celebration.  I seem to have a different favorite every time I listen to the album.  It feels at time like a celebration, other times like standing at the shorefront, and occasionally as a dream or memory.  Recently heard harps on any of your music?  Well, that is just part of the orchestration that was involved, and more genius each time I hear it.  Enjoy!


TV Girl - French Exit 2. TV Girl – “French Exit”

Released in June 2014, is this the perfect summer album?  I’ve been loving TV Girl for several years now, as they have been releasing songs here and there.  There are catchy hooks, lyrics with wit, and sounds that reflect both the past and future.  The band has been reconfigured, and call LA their home instead of San Diego, but the sound is still just right.  TV Girl themselves have described this album as “12 songs about lost lust, too much love and not enough.”  If you like your bands talented yet wittily sarcastic and frequently understated and underestimated at first glance, then these are the guys for you.  There is that 60’s-ish sound mixed with the modern beat.  Frequently played on the Happyoblivion Show was the track “Birds Don’t Sing,” a standout among all very excellent songs on the album.
Alpaca Sports - Sealed with a KissAlpaca Sports - Bella's Mixtape

1. Alpaca Sports – “Sealed With A Kiss” & “Bella’s Mixtape”

This wonderful Swedish band released their debut album plus remix versions of their songs done by indiepop royalty.  They never seem to disappoint, and their full-length album was simply indie pop goodness from start to finish.  Girl & guy vocals, check.  Cheery melodies, check.  Intelligent lyrics, check.  Awesome album art by renowned Japanese artist Ray Kimura–wow!  This is the whole package and more. They delivered indie pop perfection…and then went above and beyond!  The songs on “Bella’s Mixtape” are not this usual beatmixing (boring!), but either covers or remixes.  They were able to pull in Red Sleeping Beauty–one of the trailblazers of Swedish indie pop and doing their first project in many years, to do a cover of “Just for Fun.”  Other superb indie bands from across the globe were involved, including Tiny Fireflies, The Very Most, Boyish, When Nalda Became Punk, Cristina Quesada, and Band à Part.  Superb album plus remix album, this was definitely my pick for the best of 2014!


Thanks so much for listening and reading!  More information and playlists can be found at

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Loss of DJ Abel



This past week, the KTUH ʻohana learned of the passing of one of our student DJs, Abel Pellegrino. Abel was a wonderful asset to KTUH, full of life and energy and extremely enthusiastic about becoming a part of the KTUH legacy. The announcement of his passing has been a heavy burden upon our staff as we are reminded of the deep impact that we have on each other’s lives while being connected by the thread of being a KTUH DJ. Abel’s passing is a huge loss to the station and our listeners. We have lost a friend and colleague. Our listeners have lost a future DJ who was on his way to doing great things at KTUH and providing them with the quality programming we pride ourselves on. During his 3-6AM training shows, Abel was always excited and grateful for the few calls of positive feedback and requests that he received in that early morning time slot. It’s that kind of enthusiasm that keeps all of us motivated during those early morning time slots. In this difficult time of mourning, on behalf of all of the KTUH staff, our condolences go out to Abel’s family. Abel will be remembered here at KTUH for his vibrant personality and selfless contributions to the station.

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The Happyoblivion New Music Reviews

The first few months of 2014 have already brought some wonderful new indie pop releases.  Here are a few of my favorites!  Let’s go through some album reviews:

Alpaca Sports - Sealed with a Kiss Alpaca Sports just released their debut album, Sealed With a Kiss.  Hailing from Göteborg, Sweden, their brand of sunny indie pop with boy-girl vocals is pitch perfect.  Previously released tracks on the album include “I was running,” “Just for fun,” “She’ll come back for Indian summer,” “As long as I have you,” “Telephone,” and “ He doesn’t even like you.”  Watercolor album art by the famed Tokyo artist Ray Kimura is simply superb.  (And she has great taste in music, having done work for and enjoyed the music of various bands such as the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Wallflower, and Band a Part).  Tracks that are new to this album include the standout “Just like Johnny Marr” (my personal favorite track) and “Will you ever come back home?”  Rounding out the album are solid tunes “The Old Oak Tree” and “You and Me”.  They are playing at the Birmingham Popfest April 25, 2014 (in the UK) and the Copenhagen Popfest May 16, 2014 (in Denmark). From beginning to end, the entire album is indie-pop perfection.

Alpaca Sports - Bella's Mixtape Alpaca Sports also released a remix album, called Bella’s Mixtape.  This bonus album is not a rehashing of songs with electronic dance beats; instead, it is wonderful collaboration of Alpaca Sports with some of the best indie bands .  In fact, the selection of this coterie of musicians is quite inspired.  The cover of “Just for Fun” is the first work from Swedish stalwarths Red Sleeping Beauty in almost a decade and half.  Idaho’s The Very Most takes this same song and turns it into a string-based dream sequence which is appropriately entitled  “Mandolin Magic Remix.”   The Pale Spectre’s remix of Telephone is just solid, while my favorite remix is Band à Part’s remix of “She’ll come back for Indian summer” into a danceable happy love-fest.  Tiny Fireflies, Invisible Twin, Cristina Quesada, When Nalda Became Punk,  and One Day Diary also get into the act with cheerful re-renditions of Alpaca Sport’s already enjoyable songs.  This is a overall a great accompaniment to their full length debut album and not one to be missed as well.

When Nalda Became Punk - Indiepop or whatever When Nalda Became Punk just released their debut LP last year, and here they are with another wonderful set of tracks from their new EP Indiepop or Whatever!  This Spanish band is back with their cheerful brand of upbeat indie pop.  4 songs in total, with the feature track being a tribute to the television show “Homeland.”  This track, “Song for Carrie Mathison,” has an entertaining video to go along with it.  Title track “Indiepop or Whatever” continues the Muffs-influenced sound, while “Daylight Savings Time” is an enjoyable boy-girl lyrical drumbeat driven pop creation.  Finally “A Secret Plan” breaks out the synthesizers to accompany Elena’s wondrous singing.  Overall, a nice EP to tide us over until their next full length album.

A Novel Resort A Novel Resort is the solo project of M, the drummer from Northern Portrait, the Danish band which has been featured heavily on the Happyoblivion Show.  He has sung, played, and recorded everything by himself and plans to release a full length album sometime in the future.  So far, there are two tracks from him.  “Everything We Ever Hoped For” is a yearning pop ballad that washes over you gradually.  There are no singable refrains, but more of an overall hopefulness and stretching forward that pulls you along.  “Turning To Ashes” pulls in a bit more of a new wave sound, combining a Psychedelic Furs sound with a little bit of Joy Division, though not quite pushing the boundaries, but rather comfortably settling into this sound.   Overall, good stuff, and hopefully we will see a full length album from A Novel Resort sooner rather than later.

Temples Temples are from the UK, and their debut album is called Sun Structures.  Classified as playing psychedelic rock, they bring the 60’s rollicking guitar song and energetic vocals to the forefront.  This band formed in 2012 and already has generated quite a bit of buzz, with Johnny Marr and Noel Gallagher hailing their ascendency as one of the best new British bands.  This 60’s sound carries through their entire album with jangling guitars flying around and just a general sense of looseness within structure.  Their first single “Sun Structures,” and other tracks “Keep In the Dark,” and “Mesmerize” are excellent, but the supremely outstanding standout singable and danceable track by far is “Shelter Song.”  This, my friends, is a fun band.  They have already opened for Suede, are playing at SXSW this week, and are scheduled to play Coachella next month.  Looks like another band destined to hit the big time quite soon, so hop on board this ride while you still can!

The New Mendicants The New Mendicants are made up of Joe Pernice, Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub, and Mike Belitsky from the Sadies.   Their debut LP is called Into the Lime, and the band’s sound is most influenced by the aforementioned Teenage Fanclub with a more mellow and melancholy touch, and the vocals more at the forefront rather than the guitar and bass.  However, this album is quite the pleasant surprise.  Favorite tracks include the upbeat “Cruel Annette” and “Shouting Match.”  The strengths of the band are in the vocals though, and these are featured most strongly in the melodic harmonizations of “High on the Skyline” and “Sarasota.”  Basically, come and get your Teenage Fanclub fix right here; you won’t be disappointed.

Thanks so much for listening and reading!  More information and playlists can be found at

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kartell1Although he shares his name with a plastic furniture company popular in the 60’s, don’t let that fool you! Kartell is a young funkbeat mastermind from France who has been blowing my mind with his infectious songs. His music makes me feel like I should be dancing like this:

And apparently I’m not the only one, Kartell loves to perform live and connect with the crowd, providing sweet beats which induce dancing for hours, perhaps even all night. Kartell released his first album Riviera in 2012 followed by Sapphire in 2013. On top of making people fall in love one by one, he is also managing his own record label Roche Music as well as his own blog showcasing up and coming artists (, check out his tunes and experience his magic for yourself (Pantera should be the first song you dive into.)

By: Dj Jem

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The Avalanches

avalanches-since-i-left-you-reissueThe Avalanches are an Australian electronic group who have grown largely popular since their debut album Since I Left You which was released in 2000, a wonderful gift to the world if I do say so myself. The album is a psychedelic compilation of samples from around 3,500 records, the album will make you want to put on patterned pants and smoke a j in your ’68 Camaro. The Avalanches are experts at stitching together vinyl samples to create dreamy tunes that have a nostalgic vibe to them. Believe it or not, the group members got the bulk of their musical supplies (recording gear, vinyls, etc.) at thrift shops, now that my friends is brilliant (take note musicians, this is so the way to go.) The anticipation for new releases has been high since the uproar following the Since I Left You album, the people got a taste of the cake and they want another slice! The Avalanches have slowly dropped mixtapes through out the years, each one clearly showcasing the ridiculous talent these guys have for patching samples together.

Check out their YouTube channel to listen to their mixtapes/singles/wildly creative videos

By: Dj Jem

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Rocknrolla Soundsystem


rocknrollaThe first time I heard one of RocknRolla Soundsystem’s songs was while I was cleaning my bathroom and had a random YouTube playlist blasting, I stopped mid-scrub and scurried over to my computer to find out the makers of this sweet music. After stalking their soundcloud and listening to every song they had ever released, I was blown away. What RS does with music is truly a thing of beauty, they take an already great song and spruce it up to an extra stunning tune. They jack up the bass, magnify the beat, and add their own spin. Kind of like taking an ordinary chocolate cupcake, great on its own, and adding fancy frosting flowers followed by those edible metallic sprinkles on top, making a gourmet piece of art. That’s what they do, take music and make it gourmet.

They were nice enough to answer a few questions for me, and here’s what they had to say….

Where are you guys based out of?
We have a bit of a strange setup. We used to be all Groningen based which is a city in the north of Holland some 200 kilometers from Amsterdam. We have been working together for years, are good friends and all but as time passed by some of us left Groningen for work matters. One of us is now living in Amsterdam, two others are still in Groningen and i myself am living in Moscow for a couple of months now.

How did you guys decide to collab?
The initial idea to start it was quite simple. We were around the clubscene every weekend playing loud beats, but actually while being at home we listened to everything but dance music. While having beer in a fairly relaxed alternative joint downtown we dropped the idea of: Why not start a collective in where we can play everything that we want, no format, no style, just music we dig. Reggae, Funk, Hip Hop that sort of stuff. Having said that we also do quite some psychedelic stuff and southern rock.

Do you guys have a musical backgrounds/how and when did you get into mixing?

The foundation of RocknRolla Soundsystem is Sebastian Davidson (Deep House DJ producer, label owner of Nightbird Music) and Enthousiaste Gasten (Raymond van Felius & Martijn Bosch Techno DJ’s producers and label owners of Stiletto Music). We still run this, for Sebastian it is his full time job. We used to go to his parties back in the days as Martijn and I had been long time friends, we grew up together. Sebastian his background is more house oriented. Martjin and me, we are techno guys. Not this modern stuff but the real genuine techno sounds from Detroit. We usually would play on our parties ourselves and with also producing records we build a name for ourselves. Sebastian is now playing international gigs mostly as we tend to do more Dutch stuff. By the way, My first Russian gig is now planned for which I am pretty psyched!

How do you choose which songs you want to add your own spin to?
It is a very careful process. Not every track is suitable for a good edit. Sometimes you hear a banging track which simply doesn’t work out any way you try it. I am mostly equipped with the edits. I love seventies stuff, retro stuff in general. I send a lot of songs to Joris Vos who is actually the fourth RocknRolla. The guy has ears and knows how to make it work in the studio. We just discuss on every track and whenever I am in Holland we sit down to produce them. Tracks which are very full and rich on instrumentation tend to be less suitable. There is simply not much more to add. We are always looking for that open space in a song to add more groove to it. Not completely cut it up, add mayhem to it and remix it to something completely new. We always try to respect the original. Our aim is just to spice things up a little. We sit, listen to the track a couple of times. smoke a couple of joints like dutch people do and then try to create something nice. Something we would play ourselves at least…

Furthermore we have started to work on a new mix album. We are now selecting tracks. Our previous album had 45 tracks on it so it takes some time to select them, arrange them and put them together in a logical order for a mix. Next up we’ll be hosting festival stages in Holland at Leuk Festival on the first of September and we have been asked to do our own events which are supposed to take place once every 3 months at Simplon Stage in Groningen. – Raymond van Felius, RocknRolla Soundsystem

By: Dj Jem

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The Happyoblivion Best Albums (LPs or EPs) of 2013

Completing our best of list for 2013, here are the 10 best albums overall–that means no filler, and all great stuff for the whole album.  Tune in to the Happyoblivion show every Saturday 12-3pm for the very best in indie pop music!                 

Beach Vacation - Maritime  10) Beach Vacation: Maritime [EP]. What a nice surprise this was, a band named Beach Vacation sneaking in with summery sounds from Oak Harbor, Washington.  Their 4-song EP release was superb and does  a great job of conjuring up a wonderful flowing sound that is perfect for any sort of vacation near the ocean.  The band proclaims to be influenced by Craft Spells and the Radio Dept. and it definitely shows in their sound, though they sound most like Wild Nothing on the poppier side of things.  “Escape” is a wonderfully jangly tune with lots of hummable riffs and melodies, while the standout track “Washington Weather” is just a wonderfully perfect carefree gem.

Club 8 - Above the City 9) Club 8: Above the City [LP].  At first glance of the CD in my hands, austere cover art underneath the jewel case reflecting the lights above.  I had fallen in love many years ago with their album “The Friend I Once Had,” which had many repeated spins in my CD player back then.  Club 8 had morphed and changed some from that first love, but I still had high hopes with each new release.  So, with trepidation, I placed this CD into the player, and listened…  At first, I was not sure if I was again enamored.  But then I listened again, and again, and again.  And there it was, that self-same spark that had been there with our first love, and still burning warmly through the Swedish winters.  Best played with the lights dimmed and cool breeze in the air, “Above the City” is another wonderfully layered album from Club 8.  Yes, it takes a gradual crescendo through the first half of the album to get to the standout tracks “A Small Piece of Heaven” and “I’m Not Gonna Grow Old,” but you are rewarded for your patience, as you should be on a fully imagined cohesive album.

Tullycraft8) Tullycraft: Lost In Light Rotation [LP].  Unabashedly twee and back as good as ever, Tullycraft is one of my favorite bands and they definitely do not disappoint with their latest LP release.  From beginning to end, it is everything we’ve come to expect from Tullycraft, so no surprises, but no one else does it as well as Tullycraft in being themselves.  Highlights include their title track “Lost in Light Rotation,” “Westchester Turnabouts,” and “Agincourt,” but really, every single tune on the album is a singable, danceable (in the hop-around head-bobbing way), short (2-3 minute) gem of pure indie pop goodness!

the fin. 7) The fin. Glowing Red On The Shore [EP]. This 4 piece band from Kobe, Japan, don’t sound at all like they are from Japan.  Instead they channel that electronic new wave sound with layered vocals that would fit alongside Joy Division and New Order, though ultimately more positive-leaning and hopeful in mood and lyrics.  Maybe mixed in with some Pains of Being Pure at Heart would round out their sound.  This EP release features songs that I have played on repeat many times over and never tired of, such as “Circle on the Snows,” “Float Away,” and ‘Misty Forest,” are my favorites, but they are all so excellent.  The information on this new band is rather limited, but check them out!

When Nalda Became Punk6) When Nalda Became Punk – A Farewell to Youth [LP].  A very cute band from Spain, initially started by Elena Sestelo as just “Nalda” in 2006 and really gathering momentum when Roberto Cibeira joined the band and they recorded tracks for this debut LP “A Farewell to Youth.”  My favorites are “When It’ll Come,” and “Summer, You And Me.”  Unabashedly true indie pop with melodic guitars, happy synthesizers, cheerful drums, and the wonderful vocals from Elena with maybe just a hint of edginess (ala the Muffs), When Nalda Became Punk’s album is a high-energy party with no let down at all.

The Very Most 5) The Very Most—Just a Pup [EP].  Everyone’s favorite indie pop band from Idaho is at it again!  This prolific band led by Jeremy Jensen has been pumping out all kinds of great songs, and this most recent EP includes the special collaborative gem between the Very Most and singer Liz Hunt from the School.  Not only is it two of my favorite bands coming together as one, but to heap up the goodness even more, they decide to cover one of the most singable songs of all time, Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual.”  This Welsh-Idahoan combination is just too superb to miss.  Could we just have Liz Hunt sing every song known to mankind?  And the rest of the EP is just as wonderful, covering the breadth and strength of this band in just 4 songs.  “We Don’t Have Any Cuts to Waste” is one of my other favorite tracks and lyrically twisting and linear at the same time, while driving things along with a catchy hooks and melodies—this is the Very Most at it’s very best!

Camera Obscura 4) Camera Obscura: Desire Lines [LP].  As I’ve mentioned on my show, I’ve been accused of blindly liking anything that Camera Obscura produces.  Well, we all have our favorite things in life, and yes, Camera Obscura appeals to me in just the right way.  Another one of those albums that gets better with each listen, “Desire Lines” meets all expectations of upbeat indie pop songs with the yearning vocals of Tracyanne Campbell along with the more melancholy and contemplative tunes for just the right balance.  I won’t tell you my favorite tracks, because it changes all the time since they are all so good.  Our Glaswegian friends have indeed done it again.

Slow Beach 3) Slow Beach – Lover, Lover [EP]. This 6-song EP release is from a new Japanese indie-pop group that comprises Dai Ogasawara, the founder Ano(t)raks (who brought you such great Japanese bands as Post Modern Team and the Paellas) and producer Kai Takahashi, Yuriko Ohno (keyboard), and Keito Taguchi (bass).  I highlighted this group in November and they have not disappointed at all. The title track “Lover,Lover” is an awesome catchy song by Slow Beach.  Various parts catch snippets from the 60s evoke images of early Beach Boys. They are not really slow, but there is a nice relaxed feeling to their songs, and definitely the beach tropical feel that they are trying to evoke.  “Lover, Lover” is a singable, hummable delight!

Lost Tapes 2) Lost tapes—War in the Netherlands [EP].  Lost Tapes are a Spanish duo that plays perfect indie-pop with those always desirable jangly guitars.   Pau Rocao (of La Habitación Roja) and RJ Sinclair (lead singer of Tokyo Sex Destruction) have gotten together to produce this 4-song EP.  The title track, “War in the Netherlands” is the standout and has a Teenage Fanclub feel to it, while “Come With Me” slides over to a Jesus & Mary Chain vibe.  Hoping we hear more from them!

Silver Screen 1) Silver Screen – When You and I Were Very Young [LP]. This is my favorite album of 2013! Silver Screen is a project of Cris Miller from Los Angeles.  He has collaborated with Sunny Summer Day (Indonesia) and Some Gorgeous Accident (Philippines) in the past couple years.  This album from Plastilina Records (based in Peru) is just perfect indie pop at its best!  This is the sweet sun-soaked soundtrack to your cheerful summer day cruising around the island.  Jangly guitars, handclaps, layered vocals, it’s all the pinnacle of indie pop perfection.  The first track that had me singing and tapping along was “Really No Wonder,” and other highlights include “Mercy” and “A Little More Each Day.”  You might have missed this treasure of indie pop goodness released in April 2013, but give it a listen and you won’t be disappointed!

Thanks so much for listening and reading!  More information and playlists can be found at

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The Happyoblivion Best Singles or Random Tracks of 2013

Here we go into more detail on the Happyoblivion Best of 2013 lists. First up, these are 2013’s top 10 singles or random tracks (songs that came from albums that were good, but not stellar enough to be a top 10 album of 2013). I will post up the 10 best overall albums of 2013 (aka the consistently best LPs and EPs from beginning to end, with no filler or weak songs) next week!

10) Summer heart—Beat Of Your Heart [single]. On the show I played Summer Heart’s 2012 release “I Wanna Go,” when I meant to play ‘Beat of Your Heart,” which was released in 2013. In any case, I can safely say that many people, including me, dug both tracks with equal fervor. This the moniker of David Alexander, who hails from Sweden, and evokes that relaxed feeling that is indicative of many synthesizer-based summer tunes.

9) Gypsy and the cat—Bloom [LP—The Late Blue]. This Australian band surprisingly snuck up on me with their LP release, “The Late Blue.” I might have prejudged the name and album cover and thought I was getting some folk music. But what amazement when my ears picked up just wonderful pop tunes coming from the speakers. Shame on me for not knowing about this band earlier, who has had success in their home country. They’ve harnessed a little bit of new wave feel to progressive pop rock and have been compared favorably to MGMT. The gem of the album is the track “Bloom,” a definite hum-along tune.

8) Washed out – All I Know [LP—Paracosm] This is the sophomore album from Washed Out, the artistic nom de plume for Ernest Greene. Pretty much following in the tracks of the first album “Within And Without,” we hear more of the chillwave sound. “All I Know,” along with “It All Feels Right” and “Falling Back” are highlights of this solid album. Washed Out has achieved significant commercial success in the U.S., so you’ll likely hear these tunes alongside your favorite Toro Y Moi songs at the hip clothing stores in the mall.

7) The yearning – Still In Love [LP—Still In Love] Reminiscent of bands such as the School (both are on the Elefant label), the Yearning hit that sweet 60s pop sound. Maddie Dobie is the lead singer with the wondrous voice, and was only 15 at the inception of the band in 2012. This was one of Tracyanne Campbell’s (of Camera Obscura) favorite tracks of the year as well. The title track from their LP release is quite the pleasant gem!

6) Obedient wives club—Murder Kill Baby [EP– Murder Kill Baby] Out of Singapore, this is another female-fronted band with that wonderful 60s sweet pop sound that Phil Spector would love. Instantly sing-along-able songs of heartfelt longing, the title track of the EP hits all the right notes. Oh, and the band’s name is ironically adopted from a real-life organization that tells wives to be submissive to their husbands; happily, this band is here to espouse just the opposite, and the world is much better for it.

5) Paradise—Stars Shine Bright [single] Hailing from London, Paradise continues to create buzz with their cheerful, danceable tracks. Tony Harewood and Joseph Marshall comprise the duo, and the echoey chillwave vibrance infuses the tune. It’s the cheerfully layers of guitar haze on top of swaying synthesizer in the perfect delicate balance that carries us all upwards and puts a smile on our faces.

4) Wild Nothing—Ride [Empty Estate EP]. Jack Tatum continues to bring us excellent tracks as the one man band that is Wild Nothing. Though not as consistently excellent as his two full length albums, this EP is still not bad. However, the EP does seem to wander a bit more, and it suffers from comparison to the stellar LPs. Clearly for me, the standout track on this EP is “Ride,” a pleasurable track that definitely has been played many times over this past year.

3) Alpaca sports – telephone [single]. Pure indie pop goodness! “Let’s go somewhere, let’s go somewhere alone” is part of the lyrics and really this is just pure wonderful indie-pop at its cheeriest. Happy melodies and vocals are all part and parcel of the great twee music from Swedish band Alpaca Sports, who are on a roll and set to release a full length album in 2014. There is stiff competition, but they might very well be my favorite Swedish pop band, and that is certainly saying a lot.

2) Northern portrait—The Young And Hopefuls [Various Artists – A Sunday Matinée CD] What I said two months ago still stands true, and every bit of music from this Danish indie pop band is like a delicious morsel that I want to savor but can’t help but gobble up so quickly it is gone before I realize. This track can be found off of the Matinee Records compilation release “A Sunday Matinée,” which has many other great tunes on it from bands such as Strawberry Whiplash, Bart & Friends, and the Math & Physics Club. This track from Northern Portrait is a superb teaser after their excellent debut LP “Criminal Art Lovers.” Northern Portrait are like a less melancholy and more upbeat version of the vaunted Smiths/Morrisey sound that many enjoy. Their lyrics are also quite insightful, though sometimes the melodious sound and delicious hooks are deceptively cheerful enough to cause you to sing along without realizing it. At the end of the song, singer Stefan Larsen croons, “We have no social ambitions; as we don’t care about the rest.”

1) Teen runnings – Sightseeing [single]. Tokyo’s own Teen Runnings, formerly known as Friends, is back with a killer track that is one of my favorites for 2014. The guitar hooks and somewhat tropical sound combined with hopeful yet eerily ominous lyrics create the subversive contrast of happy and melancholy that speaks to creative indie types such as you and me: “See the towns, see their darker sides. There’s no paradise that you hope to be.” With a clearer, more focused sound on this song, they really hit it on all cylinders, delivering a singable, hummable, head bobbing song that is simply indie pop perfection.

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What is soul music? To me it’s the feeling you get when you listen to it. It gives you an inner emotion that’s hard to explain but here goes… let me try. Hard rock or dance music for example can make you feel energized, the blues may make you feel sad at times, jazz – relaxed and may provoke deeper thoughts but Soul just makes you feel good – plain & simple. Soul songs are mostly about love and or positive emotions. There are of course exceptions to this but generally speaking it’s uplifting music. On my radio show, I have often said that it’s what’s missing in the soul that makes it unique. It’s the timing of the singer, or a missing beat that the listener then has to fill in with his or her own raw emotion. That’s soul.


Soul music can be broke down into different sub-genre’s i.e. classic soul, old school, R&B, neo-soul and more and all should evoke the same type of feeling. So if you can’t fell it in your bones, it’s not soul.

Some of the all time great classic soul singers include Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke and the list goes on and on.

Old School music is essenially 70’s & 80’s with artists such as Rick James, The Commodores, Michael Jackson and so on.

Contemporary R&B really started in the early 90’s with a new type of sound. It was more studio/program based with no real instruments but again it retained the same feel. Mary J Blidge, Dru Hill and 112 where just some of the top artists of that time.

Then came neo-soul in the late 90’s/early 2000’s. This sub genre infused jazz and re-introduced live musicions and deeper lyrics back into the music. Artists such as Erykah Badu, Maxwell, Angie Stone and D’Angelo were some of the first to help create this new type of sound.


But if we focus on the “feeling” of soul, this can be found in some rock, reggae, jazz, house or dare I say most genre’s. I have even felt soul in some country songs!!! Yep I said it. It’s just the emotion that’s all. If the song speaks to you from within then it’s soulful.




Is “Soul Music ” black music? Well my collection of album artwork would surely support that plus the fact that I must have DJ’d a hundred parties where I am the only white in the room. All I know is I have always been welcomed into the black community to do my thing and I always get treated like family. Think about that for a second… a pasty white boy from England rolling up at an event with all black people to provide the entertainment? You think a young black man would be welcomed at an “all white” back road bar to perform? Hmmmmmm


Anyway, I’ll leave you with that thought to ponder over until the next time I write.



Bennie James signing out,


The Bennie James Show – 9-noon Tuesdays on KTUH 90.3fm Honolulu





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