VIDEO: Monster Rally’s “Orchids”

Monster Rally’s latest album Return To Paradise (Gold Robot) is a gallon of adventure, if not much more, and he has created more adventures, this time of the visual variety, with a clip made for one of its songs, “Orchids”. Listening to this in a huge aluminum dome is optional.

VIDEO: Cracked Latin’s “Alone With You”

No idea what in the world is going on in this video, but if the world as shown in this video existed, more people would want to spend time outside. You know what? Spend time outside anyway, and you can have Cracked Latin to thank for it. Their video for “Alone With You” is wacky and zany, with a bit of a bossa nova step to it.

COVERED: AC/DC vs. Richard Cheese

32 years ago, Australia’s AC/DC released Back In Black, the first without vocalist Bon Scott who died in early 1980. A few months after his passing, they found a vocalist from England named Brian Johnson. Five months after Scott’s death, AC/DC released Back In Black and created what would become a hard rock and heavy metal classic, almost instantly. When you bought the album, you didn’t see the title. The words Back In Black was embossed black on black, and it was impossible to turn on a hard rock radio station and not hear a song from this album or earlier records.

Today, Richard Cheese has released a new album of lounge gems, covering not only AC/DC, but INXS, Rick James, Bob Marley, Eazy-E, Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson, and Nirvana. The album cover not only honors the 1989 AC/DC classic, but also what he does with his comedic take on music. It is called Back In Black Tie, and was released digitally this week but will be released on compact disc very soon. With that said, Cheese’s website says Back In Black Tie will be the last album he will be released on CD, and only 1000 copies will be pressed. Once they’re gone, you’re going to have to cater to flea market bootleggers. You can find out ordering information by clicking here or order directly from

SOME STUFFS: Shawn Lee revives the Ping Pong Orchestra for new album

Shawn Lee uses so many masks and costumes, it’s hard to tell if he’s trying to be the music pseudonym king or if he’s into the marquis de sade, but you can enter this album without having to have a safe word. For Reel To Reel (Ubiquity), Lee is recording once again as Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra and if this comes off like one of those cherished library albums collectors and producers love, that was his point. You’ll hear funk, lounge… simply a mixed bag of leisure sounds that you can listen to as is or perhaps they may inspire you to create your own tracks. When you enter the realm of the Ping Pong Orchestra, you never know where inspiration may bounce next.

Reel To Reel is scheduled for release on July 17th.

REVIEW: Guy Klucevsek’s “The Multiple Personality Reunion Tour”

Photobucket The first thing that came to my mind when I heard the songs on this album was “Italian dinner music”. That’s what I think of when I hear music played this way on an accordion, and Guy Klucevsek is someone who is in tune with the instrument of his choice.

The Multiple Personality Reunion Tour (Innova) is an album that covers a lot of musical territory by doing it in a minimalistic way. There are Slovakian songs here, a song done in honor of exotica legend Martin Denny, and even a bit of classical. My unfamiliarity with this style of music might be obvious in this review, but what I did enjoy was how he played in a manner that sounded happy, romantic, and at times playful, especially in the 87 second “Gimme A Minute, Please (My Sequins Are Showing)”, which reminded me of a lot of the interesting records from the late 50’s/early 60’s that might’ve been categorized as “world”, “exotic”, or “weird”, but you bought it because it represented the kind of sounds you’d never hear on the radio.

While Klucevsek does bring in a number of musicians and singers into the proceedings, the title suggests that these are facets of him and what he enjoys playing and listening to. Let’s hope this tour goes worldwide.

REVIEW: Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica’s “Third River Rangoon”

Photobucket Glad to see a new album by Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica in the Book-o-sphere, definitely a welcome addition to my sonic library. Third River Rangoon (Tiki) is a low-key affair compared to their last album, as it’s not quite a proper exotica orchestra, but rather the group restrict themselves to a quartet setting, equal to the groups of Arthur Lyman and Martin Denny. In this setting you get to here more of the core of the music, the center of the groove and instrumentation that they offer. In other words, it’s one way to hear if these guys are more than just exploring this music as a novelty, and trust me when I say these guys are no joke.

The quartet in this case consists of Brian O’Neill (vibes, percussion), Jason Davis (acoustic bass), Noriko Terada (live percussion), and Geni Skendo (bass flute, c-flute), and the way the music was recorded and mixed, it sounds like those old records from the 60’s where the bands may have recorded in an aluminum dome (in fact, many exotica recordings and Hawaiian records made in Hawai’i in the 1960’s were recorded at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Dome).


Of course, Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica probably didn’t record in any aluminum dome, but the sound in these songs have that same roomy, atmospheric sound that will make the music sound bigger and bolder than love, which was often the point of a lot of exotica and lounge music: to take you to a place unlike the one you may be in while listening to this in your hi-fi room.

There’s a good amount of original material on here, composed by O’Neill, and hearing songs like “Phoenix, Goodbye” may place you in the hot and sandy territories of Casa Granda, or somewhere in the Middle East. Then there are tracks like “Lonesome Aku Of Alewife” that are sly and sexy, and you may wonder if you’re being caught in a mood that you can’t escape (hint: you are).

You also have Milk Raskin‘s “Maika”, Cal Tjader‘s “Colorado Waltz”, and Tchaikovsky‘s “Arab Dance” on here, and for moments throughout this album you are taken away from the cool and serene beaches of a place in your mind into the mysterious and perceived uncertainty of foreign lands. However, if you chose to embrace the exotica of Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica, then you’ve already made your first steps into foreign-yet-comfortable territory. What I also hear with this album is some nice mellow jazz not unlike Herbie Mann or even John Coltrane‘s lighter moments, and that’s when the novelty of them being lounge music ambassadors disappears. This is just damn good music, whether you call it lounge jazz, picnic table groove, or thrift store symphonic warmth. Take a trip, you’re in good hands.


REVIEW: Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica’s “The Unforgettable Sounds Of Esquivel”

Photobucket Say the name Esquivel and for many it will bring many mental visions of exotic landscapes, luxurious walk ways, and stereophonic orgies that rival anything you have heard seen, heard, or smelled. Juan GarcĂ­a Esquivel may not be a household name like Liberace but he should be, for he was one of the premier musicians, composers, and arrangers of the 20th century. He loved jazz and lush pop, but his work would make him a name in the world of lounge music and exotica at a time when people were moving from simple monaural phonographs to high fidelity stereo set-ups where people could hear and breathe the worlds he wanted to take you in. Or at least to allow you to join him in his fiesta of sound. Over 50 years after Esquivel’s first recordings, a group have taken his music to heart and captured it in order to liven it up in the 21st century, and Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica is their name.

The Unforgettable Sounds Of Esquivel is said to be the first installment in Mr. Ho’s Exotica For Modern Living series. If you are a fan of thrift store record digging, you’ll understand where this music is coming from. For those who don’t, it’s a festive style of jazz and pop with Latin and other worldly touches. At the time when they were presented to the world, listening to these songs and arrangements were like opening a book and discovering things you had not seen or heard of, yet alone dream. Consider these songs reawakened dreams, and in these new recordings, Mr. Ho’s Orcehstrotica you’ll hear Esquivel’s exact arrangements played note for note, with a few of these arrangements never being heard by audiences until today. Is that important, the idea of new arrangements? In the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, the arranger was king, sometimes more than the producer of the recordings. The right arranger may pull new things out of old compositions, twist them into new sonic shapes, have it performed in a different time signature or key, or make it sound like you’re hearing something else. The Orchestrotica here do this extremely well, you hear the nuances of what made Esquivel’s music great and with Mr. Ho himself on piano, he becomes for a few moments Mr. Esquivel himself.

What I also like is the production from Brother Cleve. If you know who he is or heard of them, then you know his love of lounge music, exotica, and other eccentric music sounds is true, so you’ll hear background vocals swoop in and out as they should, you’ll hear analog reverb and echo, not digital. Purists will say “damn, that Brother Cleve definitely knows what he’s doing, I will get this”.

By hearing Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica, you’re also hearing a collective of musicians who love making and creating music, and their devotion to this project will make you want to hear more. Again, this is the first in a series so I look forward to hearing what other lost and/or forgotten sounds. they’ll come up with next.

SOME STUFFS: The music of Esquivel honored by Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica

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If you are an avid fan of exotica, thrift store records, or Incredibly Strange Music, you definitely have come across the wild and stereophonic sounds of the late Juan Garcia Esquivel, known to millions around the world simply as Esquivel. A group calling themselves Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica are going out of their way to cover his music in honor of his contributions to music, and it’s not just a bunch of men and women saying “this is what he sounded like, but we’re doing to do it our way”, they are paying close attention to every detail of his compositions and the musicianship found in his music, as you will see in this video from the recording sessions.

Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica will be releasing the full length album called The Unforgettable Sounds of Esquivel, in November. The album, available as a CD and as lossless files, can be pre-ordered by heading to their official website at