Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Just a quick update

As you may have noticed, I haven't posted in a while. I'm not dead (at least I don't think so), so don't worry. Your Japanese music fix will continue shortly. I've gotten quite busy in my personal life and I'm clearing some things up before I come back to blogging.

In the meantime, you can check out this interview I did with Phil at Just Try Catching Up Myself blog, where they post about a lot of cool Japanese stuff. But, it's all in Russian! So, tread lightly.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

[Bandcamp] T.C.L - Demo 2011 [2011]

Some damn good fast, loud hardcore here. Again, don't ask me for what this sounds like (my brain is fried and inoperable at the moment), but it's really well played, heavy as shit and totally great.

Okay, I'm back (took a week long break). So, this has a lot of the feeling from 324 or some other crusty grind bands. But, they never go quite into the grind and take it more to a NYHC kind of place. Like I said before, heavy and fast. Totally free download, so you're not losing anything from getting down to this.

1. Burst & Rise
2. Start It Up
3. So Why?
4. Weapon

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Community Trust - Is It Contradiction, A Mistake Or Necessity? [2006]

Community Trust is sort of like post-Japanese metalcore. That's the only real way I can describe them. They definitely have a strong State Craft influence, but they take it to a really innovative melodic place that sets them apart from all the other State Craft clones. This album was released from the now-defunct Hong Kong label, God's Child Music. Towards the end, the label started going strictly metalcore, but this was released during their days of focusing more on screamo stuff (ie. Nitro Mega Prayer, Mihai Edrisch). It totally fits, but also doesn't. It's pretty much impossible to talk about Community Trust without talking in oxymorons.

What I can say is that Community Trust is really great. Their whole sound scratches all sorts of itches. Brutal parts, purely melodic and beautiful parts, technical stuff, breakdowns, weird time signatures, etc. They pretty much cover everything and do it amazingly well. The video I found below was kind of disappointing, but to be expected. The album has such a rich sound, I would imagine it would be rougher live. So, don't let the video below dissuade you by its roughness. After listening to the album, the video makes more sense.

1. Untitled
2. Battlefield Without Glory
3. The Snow Which Fell On That Sunny Day
4. You Stand On Hand
5. Just After The Rain, The Start In New Life
6. Four Seasons
7. Trust & Strong
8. The Diamnds
9. Dilemma

Monday, August 27, 2012

And Believe - Moment Never Fade [2007]

This week I'll be posting some more "hardcore" releases. This is one of the CDs I got when FC Five was doing their US tour a few years back. I guess the guy from Alliance Trax was one tour and brought some of his releases. I grabbed this and a couple others just because they were Japanese. And Believe plays old school, fast, youth crewish hardcore. I'm not sure the best comparison, but it's pretty good.

You can buy this here for really cheap: Buy NOW!

1. Daylight
2. Questions Behind
3. Moral Hazard
4. Blood, Sweat and Tears
5. In An Agony
6. Mine
7. After The Collapse
8. Flag Day
9. At The Front
10. Grayed
11. Alive To
12. Hundreds of Justice, Hundreds of Contradictions
13. Boiling Point
14. Between Insistence and Sentence

Thursday, August 23, 2012

[Bandcamp] Saisa - 1st EP [2011]

Wow, this was a true find. Jacob from Keep It Together Records sent me these guys. He'll be releasing a tape from them soon, and its going to be great. Saisa have put their first EP up here for free download, and it is a gorgeous thing. When I saw "post-rock" in the description, I was expecting something boring, but Saisa creates some of the most beautiful and heavenly music I've ever heard. The most obvious comparison is Sigur Ros, due to the high vocals and guitar sounds, but the song structures are much more traditional post-rock. It's pretty refreshing and completely unexpected from a small Japanese band. I even hear some envy influences, but mainly envy's more laid-back instrumental stuff and their reverb-y telecaster guitar sounds.

This is just really, really good and you need to get these three songs immediately. I'll update again when KIT has the tape out!

1. Faith In Ordinary
2. Little Light Way
3. Lycoris

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bonescratch - Diaglam [1996]

Here's an oldie but goodie from the frozen wasteland of Sapporo (actually, not sure how frozen it is cause I've never been. But it sounded cool, right?). This three-piece played throughout the 90's releasing several albums as well as splits with bands like Sawpit and In/Humanity. After they dissolved, members went on to form The Carnival of Dark-Split, Black Film Dance, and eventually Discotortion. So, there's some pretty heavy pedigree here. At some point, one of the members, Hiromichi Kanno, died somehow, which led to the breakup of The Carnival of Dark-Split. I never noticed before, but on the liner notes of the Black Film Dance/Carnival of Dark-Split split CD, they have a goodbye to him. Pretty sad stuff.

Anyways, Bonescratch plays 90's style emotional hardcore. Anybody into Ebullition bands of that day would totally be into this. If you're not, I'd still check out the video below, because these guys seriously ripped.

1. Ego
2. Diaglam
3. Dust Space
4. 8:2
5. Something Call
6. French Toast
7. Large
8. Why Are You Here?
9. Good Rising
10. Scratch
11. Sleep in Black
12. Little My Eye
13. Nothing Case
14. Promise

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

[Bandcamp] Lop Abuse On Somebody - Sanctify / Toy [2012]

Wow. Lop Abuse On Somebody are from Osaka and play really aggressive instrumental rock. I hesitate to say post-rock, because that implies lots of delay and slow build ups (to me anyways). These guys don't waste time on their songs, getting to the good parts immediately and then pushing them all the way into explosive crescendos at just the right moments. God, just listening to the first minute of Toy is just so satisfying. Ah... okay. I'll stop now. Sanctify is more laid back and pretty Toe-ish, but so, so good. These guys just really know how to craft some great songs.

These are their first two singles and they're free to download, so go ahead and grab them! Here's a trailer for both:

1. Sanctify
2. Toy

Monday, August 20, 2012

Debase and Degrade - To Err is Human [2003]

Debase and Degrade were a short-lived band from Tokyo, most notably known for Hirotatsu (from 3cmtour, Killie) playing drums. Besides their band connections, Debase and Degrade play emotional hardcore with some subtle hints of those Japanese screamo melodies. 5 songs here, and they're all pretty good. And... that's about it. Enjoy!

1. 汝
2. September
3. Beginning Is The End. The End Is The Beginning
4. Good-Bye
5. Untitled

Friday, August 17, 2012

[Bandcamp] Boyish - The Hidden Secrets EP [2012]

80's nostalgia is more and more prevalent everyday. I'm not sure if its passe yet, but as an 80's child, all of this stuff really resonates with me. Boyish is the latest 80's-ish indie pop project out of Japan. Hmm... surprise surprise, here's another genre that I know little to nothing about. Really, I can't even tell you comparisons, because I simply don't know who else sounds like this. What I can say is there is synth, tape-hiss, slightly-out-of-tune and flanging guitars, and chill, quiet singing. Overall, it's really nice and relaxingly nostalgic. Check this out if it sounds like something you'd be into! Free download, too.

1. The Hidden Secrets
2. Quarrel
3. Crazy For You

Thursday, August 16, 2012

[Bandcamp] Nature Sounds Society Japan - Sound Travel [2011]

Yeah... this is a weird one. It's not really music, it's really just well recorded environments in different places in Japan. It's not weird in the sense that this stuff doesn't exist all over the place, it's just weird for me to post something like this. Each song title describes where & what is going on in the track. This particular album I have here has a lot of different locations, all of which are really chill. There's free downloads for this and other albums on their bandcamp, so go grab some good sounds to sleep to!

1. #2 Birds, Forest Reverb 
2. #4 Birds, Early Morning 
3. #1 Thunder and Hailstone 
4. #3 Small Stream 
5. #5 Stream and Bird
6. #6 Blue-and-white Flycatcher
7. #7 Gentle Ocean Waves
8. #8 Higurashi, Summer in Japan
9. #9 Rain, Totoro Forest
10. #10 Beach and Motorbike
11. Sound Portrait Sampler Vol.1

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

[Bandcamp] Carpool - Golden Summer [2012]

Carpool is just a crapton of fun. In a way, it's a shame this was uploaded to bandcamp at the tail end of our summer (it was technically released in January 2012, and Aussies will be able to enjoy this for their summer). There are all sorts of influences involved, like The Anniversary, The Rentals, The Get-Up Kids, and probably some newer stuff (I'm old school, yo), but what matters the most is just the sense of fun involved. There seems to be two main vocalists (male & female), but there's a chorus of other people adding in their own singing, hollering, and yelling in the background, creating a general sound of everybody hanging out and singing together.

Anyways, just watch this video. These kids are awesome and you should get this album:

01. xxxx 
03. ロックンロール 
04. だけ 
05. しあわせになろう 
06. とびっきり 
07. 僕はヒッピー 
08. メン募 
09. あいさつ 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

[Bandcamp] Glow And The Forest - Self-Titled [2010]

Glow and the Forest are three non-Japanese guys who've been living in Japan for a long time and met together to make music. This album was released awhile back, but I just found it on Bandcamp. They seem to be super busy on Soundcloud, though, and lots of people are into them. I don't know if I have the right background to explain what they sound like. It's pretty laid back music, with whimsical singing and lyrics, and very atmospheric sounds on the instruments. I guess you could say its similar to a more organic Pinback, where Pinback sounds like it was recorded in a bedroom and this sounds like it was recorded in a church. Throughout the album their sound changes from delightful, storybook like songs (like Fat Monk), to darker, spookier tracks (like Dust Bunny), almost like the listener is walking down the path illustrated on the cover of this album, descending into the depths of the forest.

Here's a pretty good video from this year. The guy's voice is just as perfect live, which is pretty amazing. Check this out!

1. Fat Monk
2. Don't Know What I Sold You
3. Dust Bunny
4. Pop Song
5. Crows In Tokyo
6. I'm Not Yours
7. Prelude
8. Diamonds Slicing Hearts
9. Weefee

Monday, August 13, 2012

[Bandcamp] Float down the Liffey - sunnydays e.p. [2012]

I guess we'll start this week off strong. Float down the Liffey was a random find, as most were that I'll be posting this week, but they resonate so strongly with me and fit right into what I love. Their music is a perfect mix between ultra-noisy shoegaze (ala Asobi Seksu), Japanese emotional rock (think Bump of Chicken, Galileo Galilei), and Siamese Dream-era Smashing Pumpkins. Each song starts out noisy or rocking, but eventually all of these disparate ideas meld into a huge, world-shattering conclusion strong enough to hold each song up on its own.  The worse part about this is that there's only 4 songs, the first being more an intro than a real song, though. Each song is monumental in its own right, but I could listen to this all day so a few more songs wouldn't be a bad thing. They do have an earlier EP available on their bandcamp as well, and it's pretty fucking great too.

It's pretty sad to see these guys shows where there's almost no one there. I can understand, because they're sort of in this grey area where their music is perfectly accessible to a wide audience, but there's no major label marketing machine behind them to get them out there. With music as solid as they have, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before they're picked up. I could easily see them fitting on a mid-level label like Zankyo or whoever released downy's stuff. Check this out:

1. fade to blue
2. white blur
3. sunnydays
4. argyi

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Schedule for Week of 8/12/12

Normally the stuff I post on here is pretty specific to a certain underground scene in Japan. Most of the bands are friends, or at least know of each other well. But, there's a lot more to Japan than just the scene I post (I know that's obvious, but it's a great transition sentence). I don't only listen to the stuff I post, also. I have total soft spots for emotional rock like Bump of Chicken or Applicat Spectra, folk rock (I just made up this genre classification) like Off Course and Magokoro Brothers, and visual metal like X Japan and Versailles. Needless to say, I like different things.
When I'm perusing Bandcamp for new hardcore or screamo acts, I come across things that don't exactly fit into what this blog does normally, but is still really good. So I thought I'd take a week and write about some of those things that I've come across and give you guys a break from all the screaming and crying.
Anyways, here's the line-up for this week. Hopefully you'll find something you like!

Monday - Float down the Liffey - shoegaze emo rock
Tuesday - Glow And The Forest - foreigners in Japan doing low-fi indie rock
Wednesday - Carpool - democratic, party synth-emo punk
Thursday - Nature Sounds Society Japan - just captured sounds from all over Japan. enchanting!
Friday - Boyish - new wave-ish indie pop

Friday, August 10, 2012

VA - Kuruisake Meets Revolution [2004]

Jukeboxxx Records started out as a primarily thrash label. The preeminent label from Nagoya release a lot of Nice View's early recordings, as well as several critical Japanese thrash compilations. This is one of them, and it's pretty dang good. There's a pretty good mix of thrash/hardcore bands that cover a wide swath of different styles.

The standout on this compilation is the first track, from Turtle Island. I saw them in Kyoto in 2002 on a bill with Naiad and The Futures. I had no clue what I was in for, but after setting up kodo drums, flutes, and even a sitar, they totally blew me away. I've never been a fan of "tribal" punk. It usually ends up pretty boring and hokey. Kind of like a drum circle gone awry. But Turtle Island is super tight, and all of their wild instrumentation packs the energy and excitement of punk and hardcore. The entire band is just so into the music and the songs are so well written, you can't help but get into it. I was instantly smitten. Since that time, they've even added the amazing George, from Bluebeard/Naht fame, on guitar. Not sure how he fits, but that's pretty interesting. To taste what Turtle Island is doing, here's a live video from 2008. So amazing:

1. Turtle Island - どろろ
2. 枯梗 - 歌ってほしいあがる歌
3. Beryneck - ジプシーガール
4. TA-KEN & GoodbanD - VICTORY
5. Cause - Gari Gari
6. Strong Style - 朝日なき夜明け
7. Qua - キラキラ
8. Echo - I Say

Thursday, August 9, 2012

[Bandcamp] Role - Demo 2012 [2012]

I have nothing at all against drum machines. That's not to say I've always been into them, but between Anaal Nathrakh and Agoraphobic Nosebleed, I've succumbed to the allure of infinitely fast blast beats that technology makes possible. If you're not a fan of them, though, you might not be into Role. Role plays an epic screamo/hardcore/post-rock hybrid not unlike Heaven in Her Arms with a dash of Nervous Light of Sunday, backed up by well-programmed synthetic drums. You can't really tell except for small parts here and there. Everything together, though, and there is zero cause for complaint. They pull of some great melodies and some emotional moments despite the backing of a computer. Seriously, these guys sound great.

You've got two songs here for free download. Pick them up if you're a fan of Heaven In Her Arms, Envy, To Overflow Evidence, or Nervous Light of Sunday. These guys are definitely a band to watch!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

VA - Nameless Flames [2003]

I can't remember where this came from. Maybe I bought it in Japan? This compilation has a very eclectic mix of bands, from wild thrash to dreamy shoegaze. Some of the "bigger" names on this comp are Deep Slauter, who toured the States in 2007, and Snore, who are similar to Deep Slauter. Crap, there's just a lot of different stuff on here. I don't have much inside knowledge into this comp, so just give it a try.

Here's some Deep Slauter:

1. Deep Slauter - Peeping
2. Deep Slauter - A Full Stop
3. Fakestarfakes - Can I Close My Eyes To Sweet
4. Fakestarfakes - God Stays
5. ExVxS - New Word
6. ExVxS - Nauseating Sight
7. Slick - After The Deep Grief
8. Slick - Leave Tracks
9. Remainasit - 見つからない
10. Remainasit - Byeture
11. BxQx Idol - DxMxNxG
12. BxQx Idol - 有象無象
13. BxQx Idol - インチキジャスティス
14. BxQx Idol - ExLxD
15. Guernica - Kings
16. Chavo - Meaning
17. Chavo - Fuck All
18. Chavo - I Was At A Loss For Words
19. Weatherroll - Asayake Meets My Cartain
20. Zillion - 断
21. Zillion - 研ぐのは誰か、使うは我か
22. Zillion - 散乱の中心
23. Zillion - 人人人
24. Snore - 空白
25. Snore - 美しい物に心を蓴われてそこに在る哀しみに耳を傾けようともしない

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

[Bandcamp] The Last Place - Demo 2012 [2012]

The Last Place are an emotional hardcore band from Saitama. They just dropped a new demo for 2012 on bandcamp and it's pretty dang good. Let me explain what I mean by emotional hardcore though, cause that means a lot of different things to different people. These guys take a line from Endzweck and Nervous Light of Sunday. Maybe melodic metalcore is a better description? Ah, who cares; it's really good. There are two songs here, as well as 3 songs from their 2011 demo. Really good tracks with good melodies. Did I mention the free download?

I could only find one video on youtube, which is pretty unfortunate because it has HORRIBLE live sound. It's drums and vocals and nothing else, and these guys melodies are one of the best things about this music. Just listen to the bandcamp while you watch this video on mute. That might be the best thing.

1. A Serene Sky
2. Confidence

Monday, August 6, 2012

VA - Surplus Suppression 3 Compilation [2003]

Here's an odd little compilation that I got from Nitro Mega Prayer when I did a trade with them. It's a weird amalgam of metalcore bands, with Nitro Mega Prayer and Enforce thrown in the mix. At the time, both bands weren't too far from that genre, but still sound different. The Nitro Mega Prayer tracks are sort of between their first split and their first album. The Enforce track is my highlight on here, though. They only released 3 tracks that I know of, on compilations, but they prove themselves as one of the best bands from Japan.

If anybody has any information on Enforce, please let me know!

1. Optimistic Hedge Hog - 欲望
2. Optimistic Hedge Hog - 扉の先
3. Jabberwock - One Step
4. Jabberwock - Fat Man
5. Enforce - 開放
6. Nitro Mega Prayer - 鏡
7. Nitro Mega Prayer - 8秒の沈黙
8. Lost Eden - Seven Cardinal Sins

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fragments - Let It Go [2006]

Fragments is sort of a super-group, but not what you would expect from any of the members. Spalding, from Minoritybluesband, fronts the band on guitar and vocals. Aki, from Forgetmenot, Off-End, Conception, Impulse Records, plays drums. Both of those guys are playing slightly different styles, but for Fragments they don't really meet in the middle. Instead they play folk-ish indie rock that reminds me of a less country Chamberlain. This is really, really laid back stuff; it has a definite calming effect.

They released a full album on Impulse Records, but have since quit playing. Spalding is in What-A-Nights now, and Aki continues to play in one thousand bands (exaggerating). Check this out for something a little different from some scene legends!

1. Undecided
2. Motherly Sea
3. Some Jingle Jangle Morning (Originally By Mary Lou Lord)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Butch - Break It Make It [2000]

Butch is a weird nut to crack. This is their second output on Imomushi Records. It's sort of a mix between post-hardcore and... grunge? They played in the same scene as 1000travels of Jawaharlal, whose singer contributes some vocals to one of these songs, but doesn't quite match stylistically. They released an EP after this, Green, which I also have and it is really amazing. This EP is just a little weird. There are some great tracks on here, but also some tracks that kind of confuse me. Anyways, the main guy went on to be in Strange Over the Sun. Check this out for nostalgia sake, or you may totally dig it. I'll post Green soon, cause that EP is great.

I couldn't find any videos thanks to their ungoogleable name...

1. ドライヴ職人
2. MoMoGaNa
3. Farewell Circle
4. ゆうえんち
5. Pioneer under the Sun
6. インドシナ
7. Mass of Majority

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

[Bandcamp] LEEWAY - Sick of Nostalgia [2012]

I've probably mentioned it, pop-punk isn't really my thing, especially the Snuffy Smile variant. But occasionally a band will come along that I like from that genre. Minority Blues Band, for instance, or as we can see here, Leeway. Now Leeway isn't 100% Japanese, half of the band are foreigners, but they fit right in with that whole scene. Great, female-fronted pop-punk that has great melodies, is played perfectly, and totally makes you feel young again.

The EP I'm talking about here is their new one, being pressed on vinyl shortly (or already? or CD?). It's a follow-up to their first album, Tin Cans Calling Home, which is also fabulous. Unfortunately this will probably be the last output of the band, since Ingrid (guitar/vocals) is leaving Japan this year. Hopefully they'll keep going, because the band shows so much promise.

Here's a nice vid of their live show:

1. Red Paper Moon
2. Doubts Are Quiet Things
3. Small Town of the Living Dead
4. Losing Sleep
5. A Lie For My Life
6. Remember to Remember

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sense Of Identity - Self-Titled [2002]

Pretty good pop-punk / post-hardcore crossover. They're still more Snuffy Smile than they are Infro, but it's got great melodies. I know virtually nothing about the band and can't even remember how I got this. It was probably just something I randomly picked up at a record store. Anyways, try it out if you like this kind of stuff. Here's a video of them playing:

1. To Valuable Stranger
2. Blame Me Only
3. The Back: The Course
4. Call It A Day
5. Faint Light In Pleasant Night
6. You

Friday, July 27, 2012

Nitro Mega Prayer / Blue Sky Resemble Sorrow split [2002]

I originally picked my copy of this up while I was studying in JP during 2002. Like I said in my previous NMP post, I did carry them for awhile in my distro, before selling out. Now, it's probably super hard to find or something. ANYWAYS, I'm rambling because it's Friday and I'm tired. 

This is the first release that I know of from Nitro Mega Prayer. They're playing some sort of metallic emotional hardcore. I'm not sure where it fits compared to everything else. It's not bad, but it isn't going to be the NMP you expect (if you haven't heard this). I think the lineup between this and their first album is mostly the same, but they definitely had a different direction on this split.

On the other side is Blue Sky Resemble Sorrow, whose website is still up after a super long time. They are the highlight on this split for me. They play this old style of Japanese emotional hardcore/screamo that is so, so good. I know next to nothing about these guys, but it looks like they broke up shortly after, which is really too bad.


^this is why I love the internet^

1. Nitro Mega Prayer - Letter
2. Nitro Mega Prayer - Live There
3. Blue Sky Resemble Sorrow - Senseof Fulfillment
4. Blue Sky Resemble Sorrow - カクリツ

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nitro Mega Prayer - The Reason Of Hers Smile [2003]

Nitro Mega Prayer started releasing stuff back in the early 2000's (the earliest thing I have is from 2002) and went through several phases. I saw them play at Whoopee's in Kyoto while I was studying, and they were in their "emotional metalcore" phase. I wasn't overly impressed by the live show. The music wasn't horrible, but I remember being pretty unimpressed. Later, once I'd returned to the States, I started corresponding with the singer, Nakano, and did a trade or something. Somehow, I got copies of their split with Blue Sky Resemble Sorrow (I'll post that on Friday), and possibly this full length (it was 9 years ago. please forgive my memory).  Between the split and this album, their sound changed dramatically. Most of the members stayed the same between the two releases, but their sound became far more emotional and "screamo", I guess. What's true is that they came up with their own style, which is a weird amalgam of screamo, a little metal, and some pop-punk (the last track on this album is a cover of a NOFX song, and it still kind of sounds like NMP).

So, this album. It's definitely a classic of Japanese screamo. Nitro Mega Prayer played a huge part in the Kansai scene. Nakano worked at Kobe Club Blue Port for awhile and organized a lot of shows (including one I played with GMN, Dip Leg, Nitro Mega Prayer, Yarmulke, and Gamy). But let me be honest, this album is fricking hard for me to listen to. And there is one simple reason why: the bass is completely out of tune for the entire album. I'm sorry, but as a musician who has recorded a good amount, being out of tune is ABSOLUTELY unforgivable. If you're going to pay a chunk of money to record your music, you want your listeners to be able to hear it and enjoy it. Unless you want to be out of tune, you shouldn't be. NMP doesn't want to be out of tune, they just are. The bassist plays with a fret-less bass, and that's where all the out of tune-ness comes from. It's such a shame, because every time I listen to this album, the music is really great. They do sooooo many interesting, original things on here that no one has done before. But then there is that annoying bass that just ruins my enjoyment. Why, Japanese-God-Of-Screamo, why?

Still, this is a great album and only sets you up for the absolutely amazing things that NMP does after this. I won't be posting their following EP and split with Balboa, because you can buy them right now online (click where I linked you to). But, basically Nakano scrapped the whole band and replaced everyone. No more out of tune bass, no more drummer who wasn't so bad but had a weird style, no more guitarists who had some pretty neat ideas. Instead, he added a bunch of dudes, and most influentially, Ponchi from Gauge Means Nothing on guitar. He became the mastermind for the following songs and created some of the best Japanese screamo ever with the band.

When I was practicing the songs in preparation for playing with Gauge Means Nothing for their Malaysia tour, Ponchi sent me one or two songs that they were in the process of writing. He had recorded them all himself with just a metronome providing the tempo. I was completely floored by these songs. They were nowhere near completed, but the level of quality in the songwriting was amazing. It was different, and in some ways a lot better, than what GMN had done before and I was so excited to hear the finished product. In the end, we didn't play them on the tour, and Ponchi shortly left the band so they were never made into finished songs. But, Ponchi kept creating songs and once he got into NMP, the world got to see how amazing his songwriting was.

Here's the kind of music video for one of their newer songs:

1. オレンジの太陽
2. 探し物
3. 近づけない
4. 窓の外の赤い景色
5. ただそう思うだけ
6. アーチ
7. 繊細すぎる笑顔
8. 運命
9. Lori Myers (NOFX cover)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

[Bandcamp] Off Season - Bookmark of Travel [2012]

With the resurgence of 90's emo in the States, in the form of Algernon Cadwallader and the like, Japan has definitely taken notice. Which is good, because it's given us the blessing of the marvelous Malegoat. But now we can add another infinitely fun 90's emo-esque band to our Japanese list with the new Off Season EP.

Hailing from Okinawa, this 4 piece hangs out with other Okinawan bands like Unripe and The Cops Are Inside Us, but seem much more comfortable in the screamy-singy emo scene. Watching their videos, it seems like they've really picked up the pace with these newer songs and have a much more energetic sound now (which I definitely prefer). Their sound is pretty similar to Malegoat or Algernon Cadwallader, a very upbeat, twinkly emo that makes you want to jump up and down and sing along. It's really great, and probably one of the funnest bands out of Japan at the moment.

They've put up their three song EP for a free download (!) so get it and send them a like. Here's a video from last year which is quite a bit more mellow than their new stuff.

1. Bowling Kids
2. Bookmark Of Travel
3. The World is Indeed Comic, But the Joke is On Mankind

Monday, July 23, 2012

Arrastrandose - 陽の色褪せた場所から [2004]

There's a weird divide in the Japanese underground scene. I guess I can get a little more specific and say "Japanese screamo" scene, at least in the instance I'm talking about. Each band has their group of friends that they play with, and there's usually a network stretching across Japan that enables these bands to play around a lot. Back in the early 2000's, I was most familiar with the scene that Gauge Means Nothing was a part of, which included other bands like Dip Leg, Nitro Mega Prayer, Yarmulke, Tiala, and some others. What's odd, though, is that there were other bands that were not a part of that group. I'm not sure where the disconnect was, or how bands were invited or uninvited to take part in the group, but it has always stuck out to me. I know I'm talking in abstracts, so let me get into an example.

Anchor, who I posted about earlier, has been around for probably around 12 years now. They don't seem to play that often and haven't put out a ton of releases, but they are definitely an important band in the scene. But, even though their styles definitely meld with a lot of the other bands in Japan, they are usually found at the outskirts of that scene. In fact, they kind of have their own scene with bands like Stubborn Father, Anode, and R3-N7. There is some overlap. Satire Records' amazing Light Your Own Way compilation included Stubborn Father and Anchor on it, but that seemed to be the exception instead of the rule. I don't really know if it's a negative thing or not, and I'm not trying to cast judgement. It's just something I've noticed that seems curious to me.

With that, I can now introduce Arrastrandose, who is in a similar position. I would almost think that they would play in the same circle as Anchor and Stubborn Father. Their music owes a lot to envy, but has a very unique bend to it. But in truth, Arrastrandose seems to play with more tough-guy hardcore and metalcore bands. They do have some of that in their music, but it would make an odd mix to have them couched in between two bands with gang vocals, for instance.

But that's not to say anything bad about their music, which is pretty exceptional. It's really a testament to the treasures you can find in Japan, because only there would you see this mash-up of post-rock, metalcore, screamo, and a little bit of grind. Arrastrandose can't really be compared to any other bands, but will probably appeal to anyone with an open mind. It's weird to think this album (only 7 songs, but I guess it's an album) was released 8 years ago now, but the band is still going strong. I watched a video of a show from last December, and it seems like they've fallen into the post rock void, leaving behind their old aggression. Here's a video which is more similar to this album (although I can't quite place the song):

1. 記憶の扉
2. 暗い脚並
3. 残酷な優しさの洗礼
4. 琥珀の破片
5. 錆付いた鎖
6. 陽の色褪せた場所から
7. 遥か彼方へ

Friday, July 20, 2012

Dig A Hole - The Cost of Digging EP [1998]

I've had this sitting on my computer for awhile, just been procrastinating. Here is the earliest recording I have from Dig A Hole. It's pretty much what you would expect from them, noisy post-hardcore/post-punk from the late 90's. They were one of the few bands around at the time doing this sort of stuff. Their contemporaries in Tokyo (Wall, Swipe) and Sapporo (Next Style, Dignity For All) were pursuing a similar sound, but in totally different places. The scene in Japan was not so closely knit back then, so I'm not sure how much those bands played together despite having similar sounds.

When I scanned this art in, I saw that they have actually released another album. This means my "Dig a Hole" collection isn't complete (sadface). Tag Rag released it, but I don't know of a really good way of finding old shit in Japan other than being over there and scouring used CD places. Well, I prefer Dig a Hole's later stuff anyways, so maybe it's not a total loss. Apologies to Arthur for it taking so long for me to post this!

1. My Habit of Saying
2. Words Eye
3. Instant Life
4. Recirc
5. One (Live)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

[Bandcamp] A Soulless Pain / Sunday Document / ちくわしなちくちくわ grab bag

First, an explanation. I didn't really want to write a separate post for each one of these, because there's only one song on each bandcamp. However, they're all pretty cool so I did want to write about them. So this is sort of like a grab bag thing with three unrelated bands. Anyways, let's just dive in.

Chikuwashinachikuchikuwa (I'll call them Chiku for short) seems to play shows with all sorts of different bands: Loyal To the Grave, Arbus, even A Soulless Pain (who I will get to shortly). From that, I would expect breakdowns, melodic riffage, and some guy yelling his head off. Instead, they play a long-form of post-metal mixed with post-rock. I guess the easiest description is Pelican mixed with Envy, but there's something else. Their melodies don't immediately remind me of anyone, which is pretty cool. On their bandcamp they've presented the second of two tracks from their demo. I'm really interested to hear the first song, because the second is really unique. 

A Soulless Pain is supposed to be on Last Fort Records, at least that's what their bandcamp looks like, but I can't find any releases by them. Anyways, Last Fort is responsible for bands like To Overflow Evidence and Arbus, so their stuff usually straddles the line between metalcore and screamo. Melodic hardcore? Who knows. A Soulless Pain fits perfectly in there, reminding me of Naiad a lot, with those beautiful melodies stuck into metalcore songs. A Soulless Pain does it really well with good melodies and a great song overall. Only one track here, unfortunately, but hopefully they'll put up more later.

Sunday Document is probably my favorite of these three, but also don't really fit with the other two stylistically. Hmm... I'm listening and trying to think of how to describe this band. Maybe a mix between Bluebeard, Atata, and Malegoat? There's another band that this really reminds me of, but I can't remember them for the life of me. They've got equal parts poppy emo rock and really solid guitar rock. God, it just meshes so perfectly. Inspirational emo rock sounds horribly stupid, but that's what this makes me feel like. It's really bright and optimistic. The songs are a perfect length at around 3 minutes and keep it really interesting the whole way through. Unfortunately the two songs here are not downloadable, but they do have an EP of 6 songs that's only 500yen. Now where can I find that?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Strange Over The Sun - This City Is Changing For Better Or Worse [2003]

Strange Over The Sun (SOTS) is a weird nut to crack. This album came out in 2003 on Imomushi Records, probably most popular for releasing 1000travels of Jawaharlal but usually follows the more aggressive types of band that might be on Snuffy Smile. SOTS is a little different. Sometimes you can imagine them playing that type of pop-punk, but other times their music is so hectic and wild that they sound closer to Tiala or something from Less Than TV Records. Add to it these insanely desperate vocals, and you've ended up with this weird band thing that won't fit into any genre smoothly.

That's not to say SOTS isn't good. Quite the contrary, they're super unique and have so much energy that its infectious. This album is 13 songs of fun songs to get your blood pumping. The band didn't last past this album, but members are still playing in SNARE KILLS and Shyboy.

You can still buy this right here: Imomushi Records.

And here's a video from 2003, nostalgically ripped from VHS:

1. Kill Your Thoughts
2. はなれた!
3. Teeth
4. インスト
5. Unity Ground
6. Middle Days Won't Be Passed By Us
7. ねこ
8. 手と手
9. 歯科医
10. Trapped
11. Instruments
12. カレヘ
13. Takayuki Goes On

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

[Bandcamp] MOMA - MOMA [2009]

I found this months ago, and just now listening to it again. Maaaaaaaan, this is so good. It's like the best of instrumental rock with a very... metropolitan feel. I'm not sure how to describe it, but it reminds me of when I was a kid and we would go to the really hip part of town where there were old stone houses and lots of trees. The parks would have the coolest things to play on, like a dragon that was made out of little ceramic tile pieces. The music just makes it feel like everything is alright and it's a beautiful day outside (it's not).

This is a four track EP, and MOMA has had the foresight to let you buy it on bandcamp (it's only 3 bucks, you cheapskate). The song Lyrics really hits me, especially when the cello comes in. Each song is just really well put together and great fun to listen to.

The band seems to still be together and even has a live set on the bandcamp as well from last year. They've added another member to fill out their live sets. Most of the recordings have two guitar tracks, so I'm sure it helps them when they play out.

Seriously, get this now:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Toe - Re:Designed [2003]

After Toe's amazing debut, Songs, Ideas We Forgot, they followed it up with a remix album which, in my opinion, is the best thing they ever did. Something about the clinical precision of their music lends itself so much to electronic remixes. Of course, the EP isn't all remixes. You also get 3 fresh new tracks which continue to amaze as only Toe can.

I can't write anything else about Toe, sorry... So tired. Get this now.

1. I Dance Alone (Light on Light mix)
2. Yoru Wa Akeru (re:dsgn.d)
3. Leave Word (Cigarette Papers mix)
4. Path
5. Past And Language (re:dsgn.d)
6. Velvet Blanc
7. Past And Language

Friday, July 13, 2012

Nice View - Thirteen Views With... [2005]

Nice View is a long running Japanese thrash/hardcore band. I don't know many details about them, but they've got plenty of releases before this one. This is their first album on Sonzai Records, though (Tetsu from envy's label). 13 tracks of hi-octane Japanese thrash. I'm not sure who to compare this to, it's awesome though.

1. scene #1
2. 崖っぷち
3. 泥の誘惑
4. ラジオの向こう
5. scene #2
6. タ焼けとモンスター
7. ロースハム(for empty head)
8. deaf ear
9. scene #3
10. 残像
11. sense of doubt
12. フールの誕生 (karaoke mix)
13. ready to accept

Thursday, July 12, 2012

[Bandcamp] Teratocarcinoma - Coma [2011]

I thought this would fit perfectly in this week. I don't really cover much metal on the blog. Part of that is because I don't know too much about it, but the other part is because there isn't that much underground metal in Japan. I'm sure I'm wrong in saying that, and some Japanese metal know-it-all is going to post on here and tell me how wrong I am (actually, please do). But from where I'm sitting, it sure seems that way. Japan has its share of power metal, but post-metal? Black shoegaze (as I like to call it)? It's pretty slim pickings.

So imagine my surprise when I found teratocarcinoma, who play a pretty depressing form of post-rock infused with black metal. This stuff is really good too. Only one guy is responsible for all the instruments, but it sounds really cohesive and just totally works. It was just the thing to bring dark clouds into my sunny morning. Highly recommended for fans of Deafheaven, Alcest, or Les Discrets.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

[Soundcloud] Cocoon - Various [2012]

Not the best picture, but it was all I could find.
Just like I discovered Cofun, I discovered Cocoon a few days ago. Ironically, I discovered them through Cofun, via youtube videos of a show they played together. Through the distorted sound of the video camera, I could hear the melancholy melodies coming through over the roar of guitar and bass. The video description had a link to their soundcloud with over 6 songs on there. From those songs, I could really hear how good this band is. All the tracks are just live recordings, but it's not that bad and you can definitely get the spirit of the songs. Cocoon is going to be a band to watch out for. Their sound is reminiscent of older Japanese screamo bands, but has really smart arrangements and amazing melodies. There's not much out there yet, but here are some internet fragments of an awesome up and coming band:

They have a full live set on their soundcloud as well.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

[Soundcloud] Birth remixes [2012]

I guess this especially fitting after last week's Birth postings, but I just found these tracks and am totally into them. Birth has put up two remix tracks from an old song (off their Iro EP) and a new song (off their newest ep). One remix is from MOL9000, who you may know from their split release on Bear Records, and is pretty minimal. The other, from LAMAZE(?), is hectic and very IDM-esque (I'm just guessing here, I don't know much about those electronic sub-genres). Either way, both tracks are very cool and definitely fun for any Birth fans.