Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Japanese Music: Scraps

I wanna blog, so here's a post about random Japanese music I've been listening to.

It's getting to be a pretty hard and fast rule that I like about a third of everything Kreva puts out. When he's focussed and forceful and working with good beats (which mostly err on the glittery 'futuristic' side) he's got a good flow and I can get into it. His last single 挑め (Idome) is pretty ace:

But when he's doing the modern pop R&B thing he sucks atrociously. The B-Side to Idome for instance. Yuck.

Monobright, now including Hidaka Tooru from Beat Crusaders have put out a really decent Mini-Album and a really decent double A-side already this year. He hasn't really done much to change their sound, although the new releases are generally more consistently upbeat, which he might have something to do with. The double A-side was some insane triple tie in, whereby one song was being used by the J-League, and one song was the theme to a new movie with Yoshitaka Yuriko and was also being used in a Pocky commercial. Tie-in-a-licious yo, and it's a fun song. I got myself a Nico-Nico Douga membership so that I could post this video. It looks like the movie is about Yuriko choosing between a bunch of boys, so they went for the same thing in the video, with all the members of Monobright:

The new single from Kuriyama Chiaki (of Kill Bill and Battle Royal fame) works for me too, because it was written by Shiina Ringo, and performed by her band Tokyo Jihen. In other words, it's a Ringo-chan song sung by someone else, which, since her voice is so unique, is pretty dumb. The song still manages to be pretty good though:

I also picked up an album that came out last year: Jim O'Rourke's 'All Kinds Of People Love Burt Bacharach'. Jim O'Rourke is, of course, not Japanese, but he's working with predominantly Japanese singers and musicians on this covers record and as far as I'm aware it's only available here. I figured that with O'Rourke it could go one of two ways - restrained and perfectly performed covers or out-and-out experimentation, but I wasn't sure what to expect. It's the former for the most part, with excellent drumming from Glenn Kotche keeping the whole thing simple and light, and generally good vocal performances in variously accented English from the singers. Thurston Moore adds a faint wash of fuzz to 'Always Something There To Remind Me' and Yoshimi from the Boredoms and OOIOO  puts some random percussion on her track, but other than that it's nice and straight (as you could probably expect from listening to his Bacharach-fueled Eureka album). I do really like the twist in the opening track though, where Haruomi Hosono from YMO sings an altered version of 'Close To You' which starts out "Why do birds suddenly appear every time I am near? Just like me, they long to be, close to me." It's very 'Insignificance', very, 'Halfway To A Threeway."

There's more but I've sated the blogging urge so let's leave it there. I'm digging the new Polysics album title - "Oh No! It's Heavy Polysick!" so I really hope I can afford to pick that up soon.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Sapporo Food: Cheese Cheese

Cheese Cheese, located on the ground floor of the somewhat unbalanced Norbesa Building in Odori, does not (luckily or unluckily) serve only cheese. It is instead a good Italian restaurant. I suppose that cheese is an integral part of Italian cuisine, and is pretty alien to Japanese cooking so emphasizing the presence of cheese in the name of the store is probably justified. Still, it's not that cheesy.

I've been to Cheese Cheese a few times now, and I really like it. Not just because it does Italian food that's a sight more satisfying that most Italian restaurants in Japan, but because they seem to have a nicely showy approach to serving some of their dishes that makes things look all the more delicious. The salad we ordered was mixed and spun in a massive bowl-within-a-bowl thing, and then we were given a choice of cheeses and told to say when. We left that girl grating for a pre-tty long time.

They mix some of their cheese-based dishes inside a massive, hollowed out cheese for maximum cheesiness, and when the dude ground our pepper, he did so in a somewhat scatter-shot way. Plus they give you coloured pencils and a big white paper place mat that you're encouraged to draw on (hints of our work can be spotted throughout these pictures). That's just plain fun.

That pasta was delicious, and I can't resist ordering a pizza when I go there because decent pizzas are a thing to be cherished in Japan. I think the chef won some international pizza competition - anyway, good pizza. Of course with a somewhat Japanese bent, but then... this is Japan.

So I like the place and I recommend it. It's in Norbesa, which has a bloody great ferris wheel on top so you can't miss it, and I've marked it on my map too. Speaking of pizza though, just a quick shout to say a while back I finally thoroughly enjoyed a delivery pizza in Japan. It was from Pizza-La, and after unsatisfactory orders from every other chain I can think of, I'm gonna stick with them from now on.