Monday, 6 December 2010

Sometimes I listen to music. Japanese music!

Sometimes I listen to music, and sometimes I write about that experience. This will be one of those times. You have been warned.

It being December and all I'm starting to think about 'Best Albums of the Year' which always depresses me. Not because there are no good albums mind you, but because I can never remember when albums come out. Who really can? How can you judge an album that you've lived with for ten months in the same way as an album that has only just come out? Ah, but I'll end up doing it anyway, you'll see. For now though - recent listening. Oh, and I'll make it about recent Japanese music shall I? Yes I shall.

I am, as they say, 'in the bag' for Mukai Shutoku - the brains behind Japanese indie royalty Number Girl and (for my money the best band in Japan right now) Zazen Boys. But I wasn't totally sold when I saw he was doing a more electronic two man side-project with Leo Imai, a Japanese-Swedish singer. I needn't have worried. Kimonos first album is a really solid, enjoyable electro-pop album with roots in a lot of great 80s synth-pop. There are elements of Zazen Boys' recent, more spacey stuff, but mostly Kimonos are doing their own thing, and I've got to admit I kinda like Leo Imai's voice. It certainly works well having his voice and Mukai's higher, more neurotic voice together on some of the songs.

Also, geek point here, although it's Mukai playing drums in the video there it's actually the dude from Deerhoof playing them on the record. Then, I think that's the only song with live drums on the record, so he's not really a major part of it.

The new Perfume song is pretty awesome. Yeesh, there's a lot of crap in the charts at the moment and Perfume are one of the few groups that keep me sane when I (as I repeatedly do) sit down to immerse myself in the various top 40s. I think the last three singles from Perfume have been separate from their last album, Triangle, and they've all been terrific. Also, they may all have been used in commercials, make of that what you will.

A friend lent me the 1997 Denki Groove album A, which is the first time I've properly sat down to listen to that Japanese electro institution. It's a helluva fun album, kind of oddball and off the wall without being annoying, and it's a pretty good mish-mash of every electronic-type genre you can think of from that deliberately tooth-achey loved up stuff above, to more ambient tracks, to more hammering, shouting tracks. They're a pop band, basically, which is why they're so popular I suppose! And why Pierre Taki is on the Febreze commercials in Japan.

I was also listening to a bunch of Monobright stuff, coz they're pretty awesome. The new album is much like the second one - the singles are by far the stand-out tracks but the rest of the album is fun too. No good videos on youtube though, hence, nothing to accompany this paragraph. Hum something to yourself, doesn't have to be Monobright because chances are you don't know who they are. The guy from Beat Crusaders joined them now too! What the hell's going on with that?

Other than that, the march of the '48 Series' continues - soon there will be nothing in the chart but Johnny's boy-bands and AKB48 affiliated girl-groups. Seriously, it's getting to the point when I cheer to see someone like AAA having a top ten single because they aren't Johnny's or AKB. I don't know where my priorities lie anymore. I'm all turned around, and better go lie down if I want to come up with a Western music counterpart to this post anytime soon.

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