Ex-Stereopony’s Aimi is Back Again

One of the first Japanese bands I took an interest in was pop/rock three piece Stereopony. Back at that point, I wasn’t paying much attention to the Japanese music scene and discovered them due to their song being the theme to a (mediocre) anime, the sequel to Darker than Black. Stereopony was also the first band I saw in Japan (which you can read about in this old post).

After they broke up, the frontwoman Aimi did some acoustic shows here and there. Next, she had a big build up as a solo project, with a song as the theme to a play and one headliner concert. The music was pretty similar to what she had written for Stereopony. But after that, her solo career ceased as quickly as it began.

Next, she teamed up with guitarist Arai from serial TV drama to make a zombie-themed hard rock band called Alice in Underground. They released a couple singles and played shows before ceasing all activity without even an announcement.

Now, Aimi’s back again. This time with a pop solo project. She has her first gig coming up next month, and today she released a YouTube video with partial demos of two tracks. On first listen, this is my least favorite of her work so far, but I’m remaining cautiously optimistic.

The Garage Rock Boys from Hokkaido: The Hungry Rugrat

It’s no secret that these days I listen mostly to female vocal bands. That just makes it even more exciting whenever I find a rocking group with a guy on the mic. The other day I had the pleasure of seeing The Hungry Rugrat, a four-piece band hailing from the northern island of Hokkaido, who took the stage dressed in sneakers and sports coats. With a clear influence from UK garage rock and post-punk revival, The Hungry Rugrat dishes out a great familiar sound without feeling too derivative. I love the way the vocals flow, half spoken, half sung. One of the biggest nitpicks I have with Japanese bands is they just try too fit too many syllables into a phrase. Japanese is wordy, but can really make for excellent streams of sound when the songwriter fits the words to the music. They also have a way of making the lead guitar mirror the vocal line work, a musical feature that I usually dislike. Everything is simple and tight and just works. Check out this video from their first minialbum Te (手), a 5-track CD released earlier this year with no mediocre songs in sight.