Getting Wild with Punk Guitars in the Early 2000s

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“Distorted electric guitar sounds not only sounded cool, but were radical…They proclaimed rebellion not only against the aesthetic codes that defined beauty in music but also against the social order and morality. Advocates of the new rock ideology celebrated the link between aggressively distorted guitar noise and political radicalism, both inside and outside Japan: to them, guitar feedback sounded authentic, artistic, and revolutionary.”

Michael K. Bourdaghs, Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon: A Geopolitical Prehistory of J-Pop (130)

One lazy January day, I lay flat on my stomach on the floor of my college dorm room and watched a punk rock Japanese film in ten-minute increments. It was called Kemonogare, Oira No Saru To (Getting Wild With Our Monkey)[1] and was out of print, except that some kind or devious soul had uploaded it to Nico Nico, the Japanese alternative to YouTube. It was shot in filmic reds and greens and reminded me of the artsy, cynical films of Terry Gilliam, and between the close-up shots of cockroaches and performances from satirical comedians, I was too tired to understand much of what was going on in the plot. But one thing was clear:

This was one of the best soundtracks I had ever heard.

Crunching guitar distorting into static, refrains of 1960s folk pop, tinny recorded drums that thundered into something beyond straight rock and roll – it was all chaos and glory at once

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Kemonogare is a 2001 adaptation of Kou Machida’s short story (which was shortlisted for the Akutagawa Prize), directed by the music video director Hideaki Sunaga (he’s done MVs for alt rock quartet Asian Kung-Fu Generation and the infamous 100-plus member idol group AKB48).

The incidental music is done by Aida Shigekazu, one of the guitarists for instrumental rock supergroup Losalios and a studio musician and producer for countless bands, including pop singer-songwriter Kimura Kaela, Nirvana tourmates Shounen Knife, bloodthirsty butchers (who are also featured on this soundtrack), multilingual composer-singer Bonnie Pink, and more.

Listening to the album that accompanies the story, you find a close-knit community of rock musicians – different bands who share members or who have worked together, all manipulating punk as a genre and culture as it moves into a new millennium.

Aida Shigekazu – Nepo ~ Music for the Scum of the People

The shittiest recording, the most marching guitar riff played by Aida opens the movie; it suddenly cleans up into quiet higher notes while metallic lullaby and whistling sounds play over it, and then the riff comes back. It’s punk rock filtered through 1990s grunge and spat out at the other end in 2001. The guitar is filtered through a distortion box that tastes like metal. All the noise is turned up as loud as possible at the end, halted, and then returns in the same kind of angry, snotnosed, middle finger in the face of the listener – did you expect a proper ending, a proper song? We wouldn’t give you such a thing.

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Image courtesy of Naver Matome.

RomanPorsche. – Henshitsu-sha + Jinkaku-sha  Anata (Pervert + Person of Character ≤ You)

(Song plays around the 26:17 mark to 29:36)

RomanPorsche. (yes, the period is a part of their name, like the idol group MorningMusume.) is extreme, minimalistic, techno-based, and humorous. They perform a hyper-masculinity that’s played slightly tongue in cheek over a kitsch love of 1980’s synths.

The song itself is video game rhythms dancing and bleeping over each other in relentless throbs, while vocalist Okite Porsche (who is credited on RomanPorsche.’s website as performing “all instruments” and “being in charge of preaching”) yells on top of it, “Whatever you do, you’re wrong. Look at me and talk! Explain yourself!” The crunchy synths and smooth keyboards interweave a faux chorus that suggests radio-friendly pop music while subverting it with not-exactly pop-friendly lyrics (“You are shit,” yells Porsche in between verses. “Goddammit!”). When the synths spin out of control so does the song, ending after three minutes with a few unresolved chords.

It’s collected on their best of 2008 album, Mou Sukoshi Majime Ni Yatte Oku Beki Datta (Had To Do It a Little More Seriously).

Aida Shigekazu – Push His Button

Clacking percussion and moaning vocals are overlaid with psychedelic guitar harmonics in another one of Aida’s incidental tracks. The rise and fall of distorted, tinny sounds is interspersed with low voices yelling every so often to the sound of a tape being wound down, until the next track hits a real groove.

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54-71. Image courtesy of JpopAsia.

54-71 – b.b.c.

54-71 is hip-hop in organic terms. Vocalist Bingo yelps (not unlike Number Girl frontman Mukai Shutoku) over a murmuring bassline, a vibrato-ridden guitar, and drumbeat driven by a closed hi-hat that all seem to be following different patterns but interlock in a massive puzzle. Bingo breaks off his English recitation to scat quietly; his delivery is detached while measured, every once in a while sliding into a low vibrato and then humming that “ba-tss-too-ba” line again. The whole song feels too cool, too smooth.

The song is from their 2000 LP untitled. 54-71.The band members consist of Bingo (vocals), Leader (bass), Bobo (drums), and Sniper (guitar), although they also used to have a guitarist called Scum Grinder. According to Sputnik Music, the band, which has been around since 1995, has been on a “mysterious hiatus” since 2011. Their wiki says that as of 2016, they are “practically inactive.” However, in recent years, drummer Horikawa “Bobo” Hiroyuki can often be seen performing with superstar slap guitarist Miyavi.

Aida Shigekazu – abdominal muscles

The psychedelic drumbeats and distortedly smooth guitars of “Push His Button” continue in new form here, complete with a more electronic tone and instead of vocals, the skittering of strings appearing every once in a while like a strange creature in the distance. The electronic beat is pushed harder, louder, crunching in the static, thumping until it disappears into the ether and is replaced with relentless guitar in the form of Yura Yura Teikoku.

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Yura Yura Teikoku. Image courtesy of Music 163.

Yura Yura Teikoku – Tsukinuketa (Pierced Through)

Michael K. Bourdaghs writes, “The new rock ideology that began emerging around 1968 located authenticity in the intense expression of emotion…in rock, the guitar is perceived to be almost a vocal instrument” (128).

That fusion of multiple decades of guitar culture is present in Yura Yura Teikoku. This three-piece formed in Koenji in 1989 and broke up in 2010. Vocalist Sakamoto Shintaro has released three solo albums since then. Bassist Kamekawa Chiyo now plays for the chill-groove of MANNERS, the solo project of Mishio Mai, former frontwoman of psychedelic rock trio Uzumibi. Two years after the disbandment of Yura Yura, drummer Shibata Ichirou released an electronic album titled Fly Electric under the name Ichirou. But before all that was the psychedelic rock of Yura Yura, grounded in the introduction of the fuzz box to rock music in the 1960s with a new punk sensibility from the 1980s.

“Tsukinuketa” starts with a relentless bulletfire of a noise-heavy guitar riff is faster than any classic blues track, with even more distorted vocals barely audible above it. An abrupt breakdown stops the song before it even hits two minutes. Over and out.

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Kikuchi Naruyoshi. Image courtesy of Dommune.

Kikuchi Naruyoshi – Zou Sakana (Elephant Fish)

This is the only short bit of score not written by Aida; instead, this piece is helmed by the jazz musician Kikuchi Naruyoshi. This track, which underlaid a scene of a surreal march Kemonogare, opens with harsh high-pitched horns, which continue, slightly off-beat, behind a thumping muffled bass drum off-set by noisy cymbals. As the song continues, more of the musicians make more mistakes, adding to the noise and uncertainty of the chaos. The sound is soon replaced with the steady riff of Aida, in the form of his band Foe.

Foe – Tokkuri

Foe is led by Aida, formed with with bassist Sato Kenji and drummer Komatsu Masahiru (from bloodthirsty butchers). “Tokkuri” originally appeared on Foe’s 2002 self-titled album. The song name refers to a sake bottle, the ceramic container with a bell-shaped bottom and a thin mouth from which sake is poured into guests’ cups.

The track itself is a grunge march, bass and guitar thudding along and picking up the beat with the percussion before heavily reverberated vocals, approximating notes. The chorus thumps in succession with comedic sound effects. The guitars distort into slinky metallic strings and feedback, and then that marching riff comes back and Aida keeps singing, steady into the future.

Aida Shigekazu – Truth Comes Dream

In another Aida track, old-fashioned surf rock riff is played through a filter, while piano and a steady cymbal move in and out of the right and left speakers, a throwback to an earlier time: a nostalgia for the 1950s and the introduction of the electric guitar. Kemonogare might have been released at the beginning of a new millennia, but it owes it’s rock and roll to an older history.

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Tokedashita Garasubako. Image courtesy of Natalie.

Tokedashita Garasubako – Kimi Wa Dare Nan Da (Who Are You)

This track came out in 1971 on a self-titled album, and was the only release by Tokedashita Garasubako. The band name means “Dissolved Glass Box.” The band was developed as a studio project by multi-instrumentalist Kida Tadasuke with folk singer Nishioka Takashi and singer-songwriter Saitou Tetsuo.

The 1960s and 1970s combine in many layers in this track. Acoustic guitars matched with electric, doubled harmonies, a steady bass moving up and down, static-y cymbals, and an insertion of horns. However, bizarrely, one minute in the song abruptly stops, then comes back in with slowed-down instrumentals, as though someone had lifted the record needle, then held their finger on the vinyl itself before finally letting the song come back.

Aida Shigekazu – The Prime of Manhood

Of course, modernity is essential, as this two-minute track throws together a bass guitar, hand claps, and saxophone with those yelling vocals from “Push His Button.” Hip-hop and jazz meet a funky electric guitar solo. And who could be more aware of the fusion of rock with other genres than the so-influential Number Girl?

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Number Girl. Image courtesy of Hatena Fotolife.

Number Girl – Zazenbeats Kemono Style

The song starts with Nakao Kentarou’s intimidating bassline, intercut with Mukai Shutoku’s vocal interjections, finally adding vibrating guitar by Mutoku and Tabuchi Hisako and some chimes in addition to the jittery stutters of Inazawa Ahito’s drums. The result, like much of this soundtrack, is a steady, distorted rock track based around a riff or five, never urgent, always attentive to the mood, and maintaining energy over a long stretch.

Nakao’s bassline is really the centerpiece of this track, but the disorienting layers of Mukai’s voice, calling out “Nai! Nai!” (the negative form of the word “to be”: the fact that something is not present) in quiet echoes as guitar chords ripple throughout the track, create a dim world.

This track appears to have been written for the movie, which came out (depending on who you ask) in 2001 or 2002, one year before Number Girl broke up and two years before Mukai formed Zazen Boys. In this song title, zazen refers to the seated position of zen mediation, while kemono means beast, brute, or animal.

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Asano Tadanobu. Image courtesy of HIFF.

PEACE PILL – SNAKEFIRE (HYPER POPULATION)

Asano Tadanobu is one of Japan’s most famous actors. He did not appear in Kemonogare, but he is known for Ichi the Killer, numerous Ishii Katsuhito films, and is part of the Asgardian ensemble in Marvel’s Thor movies. He also plays in a number of bands, including MACH-1.67 (with film director Ishii Gakuryuu, who presented another take on punk culture with 1982’s Burst City), Safari, Soda, and Peace Pill, in which he sings and plays lead guitar.

The track “Snakefire (Hyper Population)” appears only to be present on the Kemonogare soundtrack, although Peace Pill has released a number of albums. The song itself is relentlessly loud and uneasy, the guitar following a path of its own, sticking and not getting every note out, before distorted noise builds with the drums that thunder into oblivion. The drone of the bass feels violent, unavoidable. It feels uncomfortable and claustrophobic, perfect for a movie soundtrack.

Aida Shigekazu – a memento

At this point in the film, and the soundtrack, a move towards the experimental and ethereal and electronic is more apparent. Sparse synth notes extend over indistinct rustling, hinting at the distorted percussion that is yet to come to close out this album. Spacey, stark notes dances over the top.

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bloodthirsty butchers. Image courtesy of Sync Music Japan.

bloodthirsty butchers – Moeru Omoi (Burning Thoughts)

At seven minutes long, the song is a dense, echoing delve into the deep-set. Tabuchi Hisako’s guitar, not unlike how she plays with Number Girl, buzzes and trembles long after vocalist Yoshimura Hideki’s voice fades, muffled into the gentle crashing of Komatsu Masahiru’s cymbals and the warm vibrations of Imoriya Takeshi’s bass, heating the fire that burns through the song.

Formed in 1986, bloodthirsty butchers is named after a 1970 cult film about Sweeney Todd. The band has also released music with Tadanobu Asano. In 2011, a documentary about the band, named after their album 1996 Kocorono, was released.

Frontman Yoshimura passed away suddenly in 2013 of acute heart failure. In 2015, a film titled Sore Dake (That’s It) featuring Bloodthirsty Butchers’ music, including the song of the same name, was released on the two-year anniversary of Yoshimura’s death in tribute to him.

Aida Shigekazu – ME AND MY Candle

The bom-bam of low drums accents a flute humming over guitar and bells, all tuned through a distortion filter that becomes denser as the song continues. Not unlike Kemonogare itself, filtered through the grain of film, Aida takes pleasure in the way that imperfections can add something to art’s meaning. Even chopping up a voice can make a piece more evocative.

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Asa-Chang & Junray. Image courtesy of JaME World.

Asa-Chang & Junray – Hana (Flower)

The band’s name, Asa-Chang & Junray, refers to the founding member, Asa-Chang, and the portable soundsystem the group uses in concerts: Jun-Ray Tronics. However, the band is actually a trio, made up of Chang, who was originally the percussionist for and one of the founding members of the prolific Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, as well as programmer and guitarist Urayama Hidehiko and tabla player U-Zhaan.

The song itself is surreal, nearing seven minutes and opening with soft strings. “Hana ga saita yo” (“Flowers have bloomed”) say a man and a woman simultaneously, their voices hesitant and edited, choppy on top of the violins. Then tabla enters, tripling the vocals, creating a third language and incomprehensible rhythm. The result is a musical and atonal world created by the trippy combination of percussion and vocals, which speed up as the song continues. The words lose their distinction and meaning as they are diced on top of chopped drumbeats. The distortion ends the album and Kemonogare, moving from the chaos of punk rock to something entirely new: a new millennium, a new genre, a new way of approaching “rebellion…against the aesthetic codes that defined beauty in music,” as Bourdaghs wrote. Authentic. Artistic. Revolutionary.

[1] The more common pronunciation would be orera instead of oira, but the Japanese Wikipedia entry says “oira.”

Gifs were made by author with the Giphy app using this video.

Getting Wild with Punk Guitars in the Early 2000s

This week: Next Music From Tokyo

The annual Next Music from Tokyo tour of Canada is celebrating its 10th run in 2017. The weeklong tour showcases up-and-coming rock bands from Japan, and this year’s lineup is stronger than ever. Listen for the noise of Hyacca, the genre-bending guitars of Yubisaki Nohaku, and more on May 19-24 in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

The Taupe

With their first full-length album, Coelenterazine, released this past January, rock quartet The Taupe leans toward dream pop in tracks like “Kaigan Enjou” (“Coastal Blaze”), where Kawamoto Yuki’s soft vocals overlay Shouhei’s reverberating drums. “GORILLA GORILLA GORILLA” is relentless, burning steadily through Onodera Emi’s bassline before she interjects “In this city,” and the guitar noise of Kawamoto and Neil Patti Patti Patti layer on top of each other with Kawamoto shouting, “Gorilla, gorilla, gorilla.” “The Taupe is not a band,” clarifies their website. “It is a monster.”

Yukueshirezutsurezure

As a part of Codomomental Inc’s metal idol groups, Yukushirezursurezure released their first single in 2015 and have been performing ever since. From the punch-jump of guitar in “Ware Ware” (“Ourselves”) to the gentle bells and dance beat of “Shinjuku Cinema Connection,” the four women of Not Secured, Loose Ends combine pop sensibility with hardcore vocals, resulting in a new idol music.

Yubisaki Nohaku

Guitar-driven rock quartet Yubisaki Nohaku has been playing music since 2008, operating under the name Raditz until a moniker change in 2011. The versatile musicians are adept in styles from the fast-paced ballad “Sou,” the harsh funk noise of “Motageru,” and the danceable “Nanigashi” (above), which is grounded in a keyboard riff and a verse of “Hey, hey, listen for a second.” As they have yet to release a full-length album despite their experience and skill, Yubisaki Nohaku is a band to watch.

Bakyun the everyday

Backed by a rotating cast of drummers and bassists, guitarists and vocalists Nanamure Nobumi and Ino Yuji are the main members of Bakyun the everyday, but their commitment to collaboration is all to support a hard-rocking joy of playing music. In “SEIKATSU ♡ YOU,” Nanamure and Ino trade off vocals in an anti-love song, pop-punk in its roots but more mature in its execution. The riff and gang vocals of “BASEBALL PLAYER SONG” are based in punk, but Nanamure’s delivery is light and tongue-in-cheek. Bakyun the everyday perform with such delight that it’s easy to miss the sophistication of the harsh distortion and crashing cymbals that might belong in the post-rock section.

Hyacca

The experimental noise rock quartet Hyacca (who had also been a part of NMfT’s third tour) might be the heaviest of the lineup. Their tracks range from the staccato off-beat of “Stress” to the full seven minutes of “Angel Fish,” in which the sludge of distorted, repeated guitar lines hidden underneath angelically apathetic vocals from Kajiwara is awakened halfway through by the march of Harajira Seiji’s bass and Sasaki Kimihiro’s drums. Goshima Masaru and Kajiwara finally scream through their guitars and abandon vocals in search of a post-shoegaze, post-math-rock world.

Tour dates:

May 19 – Toronto – The Rivoli

May 20 – Toronto – Lee’s Palace

May 22 – Montreal – Divan Orange

May 24 – Vancouver – Biltmore Cabaret

This week: Next Music From Tokyo

OL Culture, Rap, and Neon Lights – Charisma.com in Shibuya

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Photo: http://girlspiclive.com/vol03/report.html

On Halloween weekend in 2016 at Shibuya Club Quattro, a mysterious masked figure came out on stage to fiddle with the laptop. An electronic noise started, stopped, started again, and then turned into a song. Lights started flashing and the figure ripped off the mask to reveal DJ Gonchi as a Conehead, and dancing onto the stage was another Coneheaded MC Itsuka.

The electric rap duo of Charisma.com ripped through their first three songs on Halloween weekend without a pause, and then MC Itsuka addressed the audience. “Gokigenyou,” she said, the typical Charisma.com greeting. Itsuka directed everyone’s attention to Gonchi, but in the middle of introducing her, said, “Ah – I’m sorry, but she is not DJ Misoshiru,” referring to another female DJ who performs with another female rapper. The audience erupted into laughter. “The resemblance is there, but no.”

Charisma.com is made up of two school friends who formed the dance/rap unit when both were working as OL, or office ladies. The band has become known as an “OL unit,” but soon after this concert, they would announce they were quitting their jobs to release a full-length album (they said, instead of OLs, from this day forward they would be CEOs).

Their lyrics and stage presence attack social pretense and ideas about politeness: the lead single from their debut EP, Ai Ai Syndrome, was just titled “Hate.” The music video features Itsuka and Gonchi in sleek bob haircuts and lacy off-white dresses, sitting at a vintage table with plates full of flowers while figures in black bodysuits dance mechanically behind them. Halfway through the music video, Gonchi, smiling at the camera, kills the black figures with a series of different weapons, in a spray of CGI lime green blood. “You are cool,” sings Itsuka. “But fool.”

The 2013 album was a start into a new world of genre and gender. Itsuka said in an interview with the international music website MTV81 that when Charisma.com was first formed, she had a lot of anger, so it naturally came out in their music. But the response has been not one of rejection to the anger, but a recognition of it. “Hate” stands at over two million views on YouTube, as does the music video for “Iinazuke Blue” from their first full-length album.

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Photo: http://girlspiclive.com/vol03/report.html

The duo played “Mamemame Boy Gasatsu Girl” next, directing a call and response. The audience called out, “Mamemame boy,” while Gonchi responded, “I’m a gasatsu girl” – “Hardworking boy, I’m a rude girl.”

Itsuka’s deadpan humor and ambulatory command of the stage matched Gonchi’s sly smile and unwavering presence behind the laptop (except, of course, when she ran to the front of the stage for “Otsubone Rock” to place a ladder like the one in the song’s music video and briefly pose on it center stage with Itsuka).

The concert was a multi-band performance showcasing women musicians, Girl’s Pic, and after Charisma.com’s relentless set, matched with green lasers and a dancing crowd, the two artists crossed to the left side of the venue to talk to the Girl’s Pic MC’s.

One of the two MC’s, who said she was still 18, said, “I’ve never been to a club before, but that made me want to try going.”

“Ah, but you won’t find this sort of thing in clubs,” said Itsuka, adjusting her Conehead.

It is highly doubtful that you would find that sort of thing anywhere but a Charisma.com concert.

OL Culture, Rap, and Neon Lights – Charisma.com in Shibuya

“So I can be a girl, give me the color pink” – Oomori Seiko in Shibuya

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Photo: http://girlspiclive.com/vol03/report.html

It was the night before Halloween 2016. Girl’s Pic Vol. 3 was happening, the latest in a series of concerts put on by the television station Music-ru to promote women artists. After a band and a duo performed, a solitary young woman in a black glittering gown bound by a pink sash graced the stage of Club Quattro in Shibuya, holding an acoustic guitar.

“Zero songs,” she sang, the first line of the title track from her latest album, Tokyo Black Hole. “The mom-and-pop candy store in front of the station has been torn down/I used to think I’d destroy this city with water balloon bombs.”

The singer-songwriter Oomori Seiko presents to her audience a dichotomy of femininity and anxiety, girlishness and destruction. These themes aren’t contradictory: they’re inseparable. Her website profile calls her a “word magician of the new girl generation.” “Tokyo Black Hole,” the song and the album, begin softly, surreptitiously, but soon the pain beneath the description of Tokyo streets comes to the forefront.

“Hello hate,” Oomori intones. “That person who wanted me to die/Will die someday without anybody/And I will forget about it.”

In her albums, Oomori Seiko’s raw, pained lyrics are hidden in a soft, muted delivery, disguised within bubbly synth and pop beats. But on a stage, with just her guitar, she disguises nothing. She screams, strums, and sings, asking for the lights of the venue to be kept up so she can see the audience’s eyes. The connection with the crowd, for the sake of her own emotions and theirs, is placed center stage.

A little ways into Oomori’s second song, the lights started to go down and she said, still strumming, “Keeping them up is good!” The lights went back up, so she could see the crowd’s eyes.

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Photo: http://girlspiclive.com/vol03/report.html

The gentle, muted pop of Oomori’s albums is so at odds from her solo live performances that they might as well be completely different songs. The glittering synth is replaced with the metal of messy guitar chords, loud, loud, loud, with Oomori’s words pouring over them, drowning out any possibility of calm.

Her themes of innocence, sweetness, and girlishness do not mask pain, but instead, mix with it. Being feminine can be extremely painful. References to buying manga, distorted love affairs, and her at times strained relationship with songwriting run through her music.

“Music is not magic,” Oomori repeats like a mantra in “Ongaku O Sute Yo, Soshite Ongaku E” (“Throw Away Music, and, To Music”). “But music is…”

Oomori was never rawer than during the end of her set. At the climax of a song she stepped on a pedal to turn off her guitar and pulled away from the microphone while still playing, and sang directly to the audience, her voice reverberating in the small venue.

Not produced. Not edited in the studio. Just her voice and the sound of her guitar, nothing else. Vulnerability and pain shared with the audience as a way of mutual catharsis.

She did not perform “Magic Mirror”* that night, the song she wrote when she was thinking about quitting songwriting, or “Pink,” from her first physical CD (which makes an auditory cameo at the end of the “Magic Mirror” music video), but perhaps these songs are the most evocative of what it means to be Oomori Seiko.

“So I can be a girl, give me the color pink,” she sings in the song about the color.

What does it mean to be a girl? To have femininity?

“Why can’t girls play rock music?” she sings in “Magic Mirror.”

Oomori connected deeply with the audience, not only by making it a point to make eye contact and see faces, but also, changing lyrics to suit the fact that this concert was in Shibuya on Halloween weekend, and chatting about her day and the show whenever she paused between songs (which was not all that often). She was not trying to hide anything or present anything more or less than herself. Just be truthful.

Judging by Oomori’s popularity not only in Japan, but also among English-speaking fans, her complete honesty as a performer transcends boundaries of language. When an interviewer from Japanese entertainment website Natalie pointed out the range of ages and genders at Oomori’s concerts, she responded, “Everyone is interesting. I want to know about the lives of many different people.”

If the audience’s rapt attention in Shibuya was any indication, showing interest in others causes those people to be interested in your words, too.

*Please note that the “Magic Mirror” music video linked here contains nudity.

Website / Twitter / Facebook / YouTube

“So I can be a girl, give me the color pink” – Oomori Seiko in Shibuya

Upcoming Release: Shiina Ringo – Menuki Dōri

Shiina Ringo has announced the release of a new single to be released on April 20, titled “Menuki Dōri” (“Main Street”). The new song will be a duet with the singer Tortoise Matsumoto, and serve as the theme song for the new 19-story shopping shopping, Ginza Six, which will also open on April 20.

Tortoise Matsumoto has been the lead vocalist for rock group Ulfuls since 1992, and has also worked as a solo artist. Shiina Ringo has worked as a singer-songwriter and performer since her debut in 1998.

Read more about the song and shopping center on Shiina Ringo’s website here.

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Album artwork from Shiina Ringo’s website, kronekodow.com

Upcoming Release: Shiina Ringo – Menuki Dōri

Upcoming Release: Chirinuruwowaka – Kimi No Mirai Ni You Ga Aru

 

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Image courtesy of natalie.mu

Guitar-driven trio Chirinuruwowaka has announced their eighth album: Kimi No Mirai Ni You Ga Aru (There is Business in Your Future). To be released on May 10, the album features 7 tracks.

“We aimed for the feeling that the images you see in your mind are as though you are watching a beautiful movie,” said vocalist and guitarist Yuu, quoted on music website Natalie. After the album is released in May, Chirinuruwowaka will embark on a national “OctopusTour.” However, before touring, the band has announced two dates of “Chirinuruwowaka Kai Vol. 4” to premiere the new album before the CD is released. These will be on April 29 at Shindaita FEVER in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo and May 3 at America-Mura FANJ Twice in Chuo-ku, Osaka. The venues will also feature advance sales of the album. Ticket information can be found on Chirinuruwowaka’s website here.

 

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Image courtesy of natalie.mu

Tracklist:

  1. Dolce
  2. Creature
  3. Ikari No Fudesaki (The Tip of the Brush of Rage)
  4. Haru Wa Achira (Spring is Over There)
  5. Shidarezakura (Weeping Cherry Tree)
  6. Ukitsu Shizumitsu (Floating and Sinking)
  7. Kuusou Toshi (Daydream City)

OctopusTour 2017:

Keep up with Chirinuruwowaka by following them on social media below:

Website / Twitter (Yuu [guitar/vocals], Kousaku Abe [drums], Iwai Eikichi [bass]) / Facebook

Upcoming Release: Chirinuruwowaka – Kimi No Mirai Ni You Ga Aru

Introducing: Walkings

Did you miss Japan Nite this year? No worries: RokkuPanku has got you covered. We’re writing a series of introductions to the bands on the 2017 tour, so you can still find the freshest new artists on the circuit. First up: Walkings.

Walkings is a three-piece garage rock band that formed in 2012, playing the Rookie Stage at Fuji Rock Festival in 2015 and releasing a 7-track full-length album in 2016 (which you can buy on iTunes). Over the past three years, the band has released demos, live recordings, and covers on their SoundCloud and YouTube, but since the release of their self-titled debut they have been taking the stage in Japan and America alike.

The blues of Walkings are heavy – low guitar and bass buzz and hum through single “Muda” as well as “Saraba Ending,” a 96-second track in which Takada Fu’s falsetto verses off-set the crunch of his guitar. In “Flying fly,” Takanashi Takashi’s steady cymbal crashes paint a background for distorted screams and stuttering riffs. And Yoshida Hayato’s wry basslines in tracks like “Rock” feel like they’re winking at the audience. This is the kind of fun you’re gonna have if you see us play.

For updates on Walkings’ whereabouts, keep up with their social media below.

 

Walkings Website / Twitter / Facebook / SoundCloud / YouTube

Introducing: Walkings