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Sound Decision
Rockin' Out

by Jonathan Mays,
So last weekend witnessed one of the more significant JPOP events in North American history.

But enough about that. Let's talk baseball.

I used to think an ominous cloud hovered over the Colorado Rockies franchise, but now I'm sure of it. Last Wednesday in a game with the Montreal Expos, the Rockies were batting in the top of the second, and suddenly the stadium went dark. Normally, a ballgame delayed for an hour and sixteen minutes would be a big deal, but thanks to a mostly-empty stadium and a funky mascot named Youpii! entertaining folks who stuck around, nobody really cared about this blackout.

The next evening would be another story. A little after four o'clock eastern time, a massive power outage struck over 50 million people in an area reaching as far north as where the Rockies played Wednesday to as far south as where they'd just arrived to play Friday. I realize a loss to the Expos is always hard to swallow, but don't you think they could keep the misery to themselves?

Early reports suggested a lightning strike in Niagra caused the outage, and that would be fitting, as Fate and Mother Nature tend to gang up on the Rockies. After all, this is a franchise that's been snowed out on opening day, whose atmospheric pressure turned Mike Hampton into a power hitter (and a lousy pitcher), and whose star right fielder once threw a ball into the bleachers—with only two outs. Physics dictate a ball in Denver will travel three percent farther than one at sea level, but Rockies pitchers will tell you it's more like fifteen percent. Funny how the same isn't true when the other team's out on the field. Maybe it was lightning, or maybe those power surges from the typical twenty-run Rockies home game finally wore out the system. Either way, the conclusion is obvious: blame the Rockies, not Canada.

The Rockies are a cursed team, but unlike the Red Sox, the team's too young for fans to realize the true depth of the affliction. In time they will understand. Boston had their Babe Ruth, and Colorado had their Andres Galarraga, each a woeful trade sealing the fate of these two franchises. Until the Rocks and Sox play each other in the World Series—counteracting each other's curse—I think fans of both franchises are in for more agony and heartache. Let's hope that happens soon so we can keep those Rockies Blackouts to television broadcasts.

Power outages are no excuse to be in the dark when you're buying anime music, so read on!

Mahoromatic #1 —Pioneer

Mahoromatic's soundtrack has all the makings of a colossal disaster. Anything bouncy with synthesizers pulled out of an 8-Bit RPG usually means the composer decided to take the series off. Toss in that it's a maid show with lots of fanservice and song titles like "Pretty Beast Trainer VS Flat Boob Maid" and "Shikijo's Eroticism," and you'd expect something to make your ears bleed. But you know what? It's not too bad!

Against all odds, Toshio Masuda somehow pulls off a pretty charming OST. The pieces are too short, the instrumentation mostly stinks, the compositions are ridiculously derivative, and with the exception of two pieces ...guh...cello... the entire soundtrack lacks any serious resonance. Yet I'm still recommending this CD. The silly-to-somber ratio is just perfect, and if you'll forgive the Super Mario-like atmosphere of a few tracks, a joyful hour awaits you. Fans of Ai Yori Aoshi's “Towa No Hana” will love the Mahoromatic opening theme, too. Go ahead, give it a shot.

Best used as: sugar substitute.

Heat Guy J: Burn —Pioneer

Time for a TRYFORCE jam session. Director Kazuki Akane gave the four-man group total creative freedom, and maaaaaaan did they go wild. Punk rock, boisterous jazz, violin solos—it's all here. Definitely one of the more diverse soundtracks out there, Heat Guy J's music has something for everyone. It starts out pretty simple with a cool but dull opening that sounds like a pimped-out version of NBC's Fame theme, and the beat-heavy stuff goes on for a while. But just when you think you've pinned them down, the foursome throws something like “Fragmentation” at you, a hard dose of piano to shake off the punk. Yeah, it's a little dissonant at times, but it's so obvious these guys had fun writing and performing that it's simply impossible not to feed off their energy.

I never thought I'd say this, but I think TRYFORCE would've been perfect for Cowboy Bebop. Sure, you can't beat Kanno's talents, but this stuff's louder, cooler, and it knocks a little harder. There's an unmistakable middle eastern flare here, a great launching pad for a drum slammin', guitar jammin' good time. Think Three Kings, and you've got it.

Forget about the show. Just get the music.

Best used as: better Bebop.

Animetoonz Presents: Kikuko Inoue —Jellybean (2001-04-01)

Is there anything worse than a lazy remix? Boredom and repetition run rampant in Animetoonz, but my biggest beef with it—and most remix tripe—is that the notes don't match. Taking good music like Kanno's Escaflowne theme and adding a few random notes in a different key to make it all "hip" and "cool" is so lame. The only mildly compelling track in the dozen is Utena's "Virtual Hasseigaku," whose remix backbeat actually doesn't clash with the melody every five notes. I bet it was an accident.

I've always equated remixes with false, hollow butchering of original music. This one does nothing to convince me otherwise. Kikuko Inoue's considerable vocal talent is completely wasted here, but of course, this is from the studio who brought us masterpieces like “Superstar” and “Jock Fever,” so whaddya expect? If you want dance music, go for Para Para or something. But don't invest in this disgrace.

Best used as: fly swatter.

And now you've seen the light. Sally forth, get the good stuff, avoid the junk, and tell all your friends! See ya next week.

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