Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Akito's Hey Mister Girl!

I first heard about Hey Mister Girl!, Akito Katayose (lead singer of the Great 3)'s solo debut, via Archer Prewitt, who was working on the album back on 2000. Dude was excited about it; Akito had given him a producer's role to run with, one of the first few of such occurrences (I think he had done a lot of uncredited work for Edith Frost's second album too).

That's a good way to introduce Hey Mister Girl!. The album's rooted in 60's pop a la Chicago, rooted in Turtles-type melodies but ornate with electronic florishes. Prewitt might be responsible for the more traditional of these sounds, but the more electronic of these elements are akin to those of Aluminum Group and the Sea and Cake. It's perhaps no surprise, then, that most of Prewitt's band and Tortoise appear on the album to back Akito up. It's also not a far stretch for Akito: since about 98, the Great 3 have been cozying up to their Chicago pals and releasing increasingly similar material.

That's not to say Hey Mister Girl's a wannabe Chicago album. The album is still a quintessentially Japanese take on 60s pop. While Aluminum Group channel Bacharach, Akito's all over the place, from romantic soul-pop ballads ala Dusty Springfield on "Dilemma" (backed by one of the best female indie rock voices, Rebecca Gates), to Stereolab-esque go-go tunes on "Geist." What might have ended up as over-reaching for a lesser act turns out to be cohesively broad for Akito, due to the fact that the man's no slouch in the song-writing department himself, staving off any threat of being overshadowed by his musical guests.

As an endnote, Prewitt also did the artwork with Sheila Sachs (who has seemingly designed every album out of Chi-town in the past 15 years). When I first got it, I thought it looked familiar. A glance through Don Cherry's catalog confirmed it: the scheme's ripped off from Where Is Brooklyn?, pictured to the right.

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