Wednesday, February 29, 2012

VA - My Notebook is Full of Scribbles Compilation [2002]

In my memory, which is admittedly shaky these days, this was the first item in my distro. When I found my first sampler CD, I realized it was actually the second. Irregardless, it's always been one of my favorites. I have love, deep in my heart, for good compilations. There are so many bad ones, that good ones stand out like diamonds in a pile of crap. When a compilation is more like a mixtape, then you're in business. While this one (I'm not going to bother typing the full name out, it would end up being about as long as this parenthesis) isn't without its faults, it's really the first appearances from several bands (GMN, After Forever, Enforce, Womb) and seemed to signal a new movement in the Japanese underground that lasted for several years. 

Take Gauge Means Nothing, for instance. There were a few demos before this compilation, and they'd formed in 1997, but this was the beginning of their most prolific line-up (on a side note, any recording before this compilation is gone-gone. Maybe Yuichi has them somewhere and wants to share?). After Forever and Enforce showed their first recordings on this compilation as well. 

The spiritual followup to this compilation was Satire Records "Light Your Way" compilation, named after the zine that Satire Records edited. It featured some of the same bands (After Forever and Enforce) but expanded the selection to include Nitro Mega Prayer, Dip Leg, End All, Five Kinds Square, 1000travels of Jawaharlal and other notable bands from the scene. That compilation feature bands from all over Japan, whereas this one was only Tokyo bands.

Here's a video of Womb from 2003:

1. Womb - Empty Pancake
2. Overgreed - Class Pieces
3. After Forever - The Scale of Sin and Desire
4. Senna - 3 plus 3.
5. Evil Eye Empire - Each Situation Grownd
6. Enforce - 鎖と火炎瓶
7. Gauge Means Nothing - My Glass Reflect Untrue View on My Eyes
8. Senna - I Stam

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dig A Hole - Upset [2001]

I take such pride in Dig a Hole sometimes. Going to school in the Kansai area, it's sort of like my home away from home. I sympathize with the underdog feel of the area, always in competition with Tokyo. I've also been to most of the neighborhoods and livehouses in the area, so I feel some communion with the bands operating in the area.

With the Unfold split, I was introduced to three bands that came from my old stomping grounds, and I exhaustively searched out information about them while I was there. This was one of my scores, an EP from Dig A Hole. These are some of their best songs, aside from the Unfold split offerings, and see them playing some great post hardcore. I regret I never got to see them live, but having most of their releases makes up for it a bit. I also have some flyers I'll post soon (at least I think I do).

Dig A Hole - Upset
1. Upset
2. Nothing
3. Minor Swing

Monday, February 27, 2012

Nine Days Wonder / No Knife - Split [2001]

I started getting into Japanese music in the days of Napster. There wasn't a lot to be found, but I was able to get tracks from bands like Husking Bee, Melt Banana, and Eastern Youth. As my Japanese music search continued, I lamented that I couldn't find many bands that were like the bands I was listening to from America. The most I could find were mid-level popular bands that were good, but just not authentic enough for me.

Then I found Dim Mak Records, Envy, and Nine Days Wonder. Nine Days Wonder, especially this release, played some amazing synth-heavy emo rock. Hearing them was like a breath of fresh air. I was already a fan of No Knife, so their sound was comfortably close, and I ordered this split right away.

Hmm... I'll say more about 9DW with some later releases I'll post. Enjoy this amazing music!

Buy It Here
1. No Knife - The Red Bedroom
2. No Knife - Automatic Writing
3. Nine Days Wonder - What I Need in Me
4. Nine Days Wonder - The Next Realm
5. Nine Days Wonder - Call For a Stranger

US-JP Underground Alliance

In 2003, after returning from my semester in Japan, I started trying to keep a public version of my Japanese band bookmarks. I started this page, US-JP Underground Alliance, and tried to expand it to cover labels, livehouses, and other related things. I thought of it as the reference I wish I would've had when I went over there. I added a news section and tried to update it with relevant band news. Around 2005, I quit doing the site. I've tried to keep it alive since then. Most of the links are dead, just like most of the bands highlighted. The URL to the page was messed up, as a result of my consistent domain transfers, so I just brought it back to life. I'm going to try and replicate the same type of resource on this blog, so I won't change the page. It will exist, dead links and all. Maybe you'll find something you enjoy, or find humorous.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Black Ganion - Hakkyo! [2004]

During the heyday of the I've Come For Your Children distro, I was trying pretty hard to up the Japanese stuff I carried. It was always harder to trade with Japanese labels than it was to trade with European distros. They were usually more interested in me paying wholesale, if they even returned my emails. So, despite the genre matching the other screamo stuff I was trying to procure, I jumped at the chance to trade with Jukeboxxx Records out of Nagoya. One of the releases they offered was this, an EP by Black Ganion.

Black Gannion rides the fence between straight up Japanese new school hardcore and a rawer crust punk sound. They are still active to this day (their site) and their sound has progressed into more of a grinding, d-beat power-violence type sound.

Anyways, check it out!

1. Test of Insturument
2. The Education Method
3. Recollection
4. Exfoliation
88. Secret Track

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Creep - My Self Portrait [1999]

I first heard Creep on the split they released with a couple of other Kansai bands (Unfold Split) and was hungry to find more recordings. In 2002, I was at school in Kansai, so it wasn't too hard to find things from these bands. I believe I was looking in a box of clearance CDs at a random music store and found this. At first, I wasn't entirely sure that it was the same band that I was looking for. But, it was discounted enough that I gave it a shot.

Turns out, this is a Creep release that came well before the split, but it's still amazing. It has a really strong San Diego feel, which is caught between Unbroken-era and Swing Kids-era stuff. Still, so good. It has that dark, misanthropic mood that is so fully realized in The Carnival of Dark-Split.

Anyways, enjoy this. It's a really good showing of non-Tokyo, pre-2000 Japanese hardcore/screamo.

1. Intro
2. Entered Me
3. Cynicism
4. Narrow
5. Link Up
6. Wall
7. Nothing

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hunchback - A Faint Smell of Burning [2003]

I don't really remember how I got this demo. The year was 2003, so it could've been when I was touring with Gauge Means Nothing. Either way, here is some nice Japanese emo. Similar bands are Up and Coming, Toe, or No Knife. The band stopped playing in 2003, but started back up in 2009. Or maybe it was just a reunion show. Their myspace hasn't been logged into for a whole year, so.... Here's a vid from 2009:

1. The Middle Distance
2. The Sculpture Burn
3. Trap of Polygon

Back in Bizness

So, it's been quite a few months since my last post. I haven't given up on the blog, just had to move to a new house, taking classes, and too much video games. But, as you can see from the picture above, my computer is set up again and I have all my posters up to inspire me to get some frickin' work done. So, the posts will start being regular again. Not every day, but every few days or so. I'm still taking classes so I won't have tons of free time.

After setting up my scanner again, it is magically fixed from that embarrassing little line that has been in all the scans, so I plan to go back and rescan all the releases I've already put up here so they look better.

With that being said, I was hoping that other people might want to contribute to what this blog is doing. The idea is to document the Japanese underground (hardcore/screamo/punk/emo/whatever) scene by posting high quality images of release art and MP3s. If you have something you'd like to contribute, just message me. I'm only interested if it's stuff you actually own, and I want to stick to things that are out of print for the moment. The rarer, the better!