Listening to the New Sounds of Japan, I kept thinking, I don’t know what this is, but I like it. Was that a xylophone? An accordion? What’s up with all the hoof beats? Curious, yet enchanting, the CD ($9.98 Aloha Music International) is billed as “a fabulous ethnic instrumental romp.” But what does it sound like? Like Gary Cooper bursts into a Japanese tea house on a rainy October night. I particularly enjoyed the first track, “Sentimental Tokyo,” an insouciant little ditty that seems like the soundtrack to some as-yet-unmade hipster movie. If you were stationed in Japan in the 1950s, I bet you’ll love it. Or, if you’re throwing a saketini party for a bunch of pretty young things, this CD will work, too. If both conditions apply, well, our hat is off to you.
It takes guts to open a brick-and-mortar bookstore in the days of instant online gratification, but in da Shop, local publisher Bess Press has found a way to allow fickle/loyal readers to have their cake and eat it, too.