There are a lot of things that bug me about Takako Minekawa's new album, Cloudy Cloud Calculator (Emperor Norton), but I have to give the Tokyo pop star credit for stuffing some genuinely weird shit into her shiny happy tunes. On her first U.S. release, Roomic Cube (March), Minekawa was backed by Buffalo Daughter, who lent some heft and unpredictability to her singsongy hooks, knocking her bubblegum melodies askew with lite art-rock moves. (On the subsequent remix collection, Recubed, a combination of post-rock types and indie-pop geeks, including Trans Am, Sukia, Pulsars, and Portastatic, put the emphasis back on her own odd electronic flourishes and disjointed arrangements.) Minekawa recorded almost all of the new album by herself--Buffalo Daughter's back for one track and Boredoms guitarist Seiichi Yamamoto pitches in on another--and its synthesizer-heavy arrangements betray a fascination with Kraftwerk; in fact there's even a tune called "Kraftpark (Micro Trip Edit.)," which, as she clarifies in her bio, "is not a parody of Kraftwerk. I did it because I love them." The cuteness can get overwhelming, but I'm curious enough about how she'll pull it off live to risk it. Friday, 10:30 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508. Or, if you're reading this on Thursday, October 29, you can catch her with Hovercraft, ICU, and C Average at 10 PM at Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.