Today’s listen, “Oh, Naoko” comes from the Philadelphia, PA duo Sun Airway, off the impeccably-named 2010 album Nocturne Of Exploded Crystal Chandelier (Dead Oceans.) Sun Airway is one of those groups that, in a just world, would be getting regular airplay on alternative stations around the country. Their sound is an irresistible blend of pop, indie, and electronic dance music, and singer Jon Barthmus sounds a lot like an American version of Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys;less swaggering, though, and more sensitive, which ends up working better for this kind of music. The lyrics on “Oh, Naoko” (and on the album as a whole) have a fanciful, surrealist bent, with talk of lassoing moonlight, shadows becoming traitors, and bones being broken by snow. The words complement a sparkling, synth-heavy instrumental, both elements combining to imbue the song with a wistful, dreamlike quality. The chorus is absurdly catchy, and gets stuck “In the back of your mind just like a wind chime,” as Barthmus puts it. An incredible song, one that I wished more people knew about.
This is also a good opportunity to give a mini eulogy for Pittsburgh’s own Juke Records, an awesome little shop in Bloomfield that just closed down after having been open since the 70’s. Along with selling vinyl, Juke had a great selection of used CD’s by little-known and local artists, all 50% off (because nobody except for me buys CD’s anymore). I used to go in there with a $20 bill in hand and walk away with 6 or 7 purchases, all selected based on album artwork alone (the more intricately colorful, the better); that’s how I found Nocturne Of Exploded Crystal Chandelier a few months ago. I’ll always associate Sun Airway with Juke, and I’ll always miss what the store had to offer local music fans.
Listen to more Sun Airway: https://sunairway.bandcamp.com/ or https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVRnNrL_vabHIY7zJOVUwcA