Crayon Eater – Headphone Shiteiru kara Muteki | Music Video Monday

I came across this band a while back and found this song quite catchy. The title translates roughly to “As long as I’m wearing headphones, I’m unstoppable.” It sound a little bit like the simple rock of The Pillows but with a little more current indie influence. They released their first full album in October of last year.

Review: Suiyoubi no Campanella – Superman

Suiyoubi no Campanella (Wednesday Campanella seems to be their new go-to English name), or Suikan for short, is huge hit pop/hiphop/electronic group right now in Japan. They play all the major festivals, are on TV frequently, and have an upcoming oneman show at the renown Budokan, the judo arena built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and frequently used venue in the past for live recordings of Western artists visiting Japan such as Bob Dylan. However, when I first encountered Suikan, almost exactly three years ago, they were playing at the modest O-Nest venue in Shibuya to a crowd of about 20 people.

Although I had been a Japanese music fan for years, this was just around the time when I was starting to look beyond big name bands with TV show tie-ins and also start going to more concerts. I discovered an event called Freesia and Chocolate, where during the weeks surrounding Valentine’s Day, live music venues across Japan held shows with only female-vocal bands and artists. Over a weekend, I ended up on a YouTube binge looking at almost every performer playing at these various events. In this way, I discovered Yubisaki Nohaku, MAMADRIVE, Miketoroizu, and Suiyoubi no Campanella. I found the next show for each and checked them all out.

Suikan is a three person team. The singer and performer KOM_I (pronounced Komuai) is incredibly charismatic. Dir. F (Dir. for Director) is the manager. Kenmochi Hidefumi is the songwriter behind the scenes. Although I’d talked to both KOM_I and Dir. F at their shows (Dir. F always did the merch table), Kenmochi never came to the shows. He always just posted pictures of cup ramen to Twitter. I asked Dir. F what Kenmochi was like and he described him as a “cute, small man, like a fairy.” According to an interview, Dir. F and Kenmochi were looking for a singer for their group and Dir. F invited KOM_I after meeting her at a house party of a mutual friend. Of all of the indie groups I found, it was clear that Suikan were the mostly likely to make it big, and they gained popularity at a startling rate throughout 2014 and 2015, before finally making their major label debut on Warner in 2016.

Their music is unique, featuring electronic pop tunes with a kind of spoken-word-esque rap, often with singing for the chorus. The lyrics are frequently about movies and manga such as Mothra and Rambo, or famous historical and semi-historical figures like Marie Antoinette, Sen no Rikyuu, and Dracula. Their music videos have always been quirky, and now with real budgets are often ridiculous. Live performances have always been a strong point, with antics from KOM_I such as her recent gimmick getting into a giant inflatable ball and rolling around over the audience.

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Track List

  1. Aladdin (アラジン)
  2. Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬)
  3. Ikkyuu-san (一休さん)
  4. Onyankopon (オニャンコポン)
  5. Genghis Khan (チンギス・ハン)
  6. Chaplin (チャップリン)
  7. Audrey (オードリー)
  8. King Kamehameha the Great (カメハメハ大王)
  9. Zeami (世阿弥)
  10. Ama-no-Uzume (アマノウズメ)

I must admit that I am quite out of my element when it comes to talking about electronic music. I don’t think I can accurately identify most of the subgenres, and so for this review I won’t be trying to. My overall opinion of Superman is that it is a much stronger, more coherent effort than their first major label release, UMA. That said, their previous albums like Zipangu and Cinema Jack still outshine their more recent efforts. While generally all lyrics and songs are written by Kenmochi, UMA featured multiple non-Japanese producers and even Kenmochi’s tracks fell far from the group’s typical sound. Superman marks a return to their previous form, with every song penned by Kenmochi, an obvious reason for the more cohesive sound. There’s also a touch more of the 80s in a number of the tracks than usual.
Standout Tracks

  • King Kamehamaha the Great – Very chill, interesting instrumentation
  • Zeami – Catchy chorus
  • Aladdin – The raps really stand out here and also the chanting in the bridge

Next Music From Tokyo vol. 10

Next Music From Tokyo is a tour of Japanese indie musicians across Canada, organized and paid for out of pocket by my friend and fellow music enthusiast Steven Tanaka. In the past, NMFT has featured bands you may have heard of such as andymori, MOTFD, Akai Kouen, Zazen Boys, and Kinoko Teikoku, as well as plenty you may have not, like Merpeoples, a favorite of mine which broke up a couple years ago. It happens 1-2 times a year, and the current format is a four-stop tour with two shows in Toronto, one in Montreal, and one in Vancouver.

Here are the five bands making up the line up for Volume 10:

Yubisaki Nohaku

Bakyun the everyday

The Taupe

Hyacca

Yukueshirezutsurezure

 

I’ve talked about Yubisaki Nohaku quite a lot on here before, but they’re one of my favorite alt rock bands at the moment. Bakyun the everyday is the only other of the five groups I’ve seen live, but they’re a quite energetic punk/garage rock band with twin male/female vocals. The Taupe is also a favorite of a lot of my friends in Tokyo. Hyacca is the only repeat band on the list from a previous NMFT. Yukueshirezutsurezure is an alt idol group, which makes this the second NMFT in a row to include such a group.

May 19 Toronto @ The Rivoli
May 20 Toronto @ Lee’s Palace
May 22 Montreal @ Divan Orange
May 24 Vancouver @ Biltmore Cabaret

http://www.nextmusicfromtokyo.com/

 

 

Oiran Shonen

Last month I came across a new band at a show in Shinjuku: Oiran Shonen. It was a booking night, where the bands are invited by the manager or booking staff at the venue, as opposed to part of a tour or event organized by one of the bands performing. All of the bands seemed to be relatively new, young bands, so the place was pretty empty. Oiran Shonen took the stage near end of the night and played a really inspired set of songs. Their name means “Courtesan Boys,” but all three members are girls (I supposed for the irony value?). They hit a number of different styles, tempos, and time signatures but still managed to have a cohesive sound. They sound a little rock, a little punk, and a little kayokyoku (old school Japanese pop). The closest band I can think of is GO!GO!7188, but they certainly aren’t mimicking them; they have their own sound. The technical skills were a little bit lacking, but I’m excited to see where they’ll go. They’re based out of Kanagawa, the prefecture just south of Tokyo. So far they have a single 8-track venue-only CD. The YouTube video below is a song from that album.