Monday, April 30, 2012

Sewi - Self-Titled [2006]

This week is going to be laid back for me. The weekend was busy so I didn't have much time to prepare. So, no schedule or themes, just some random shit I'll be throwing up here. If you haven't checked it yet, I started a forum attached to the site (link at the top). It's just a chill place to chat about Japanese music. Register and hang out!

I got this sewi demo from an Oto Records order. Honestly, this band/unit confuses the crap out of me. There are 8 songs on here, I'm not sure if it's a demo or self-titled release though. And just about every track sounds different, so it's hard to even figure out what's going on. To add to my confusion (seriously, it doesn't need any help), the last 6 tracks are listed as bonus tracks. Ugh, I give up. It's a CDr, there is some packaging. There, I've explained all the "meta" knowledge I have about this release.

As to what kind of music there is, I would put it in the screamo genre, but it stretches it a lot. In some ways, it really feels like Kulara, and how they took a pretty normal genre and just made it wild. Some of the songs can get into really great grooves where you could swear you were listening to some early Kulara or maybe Z. Some of the bonus tracks are a little more... emo, I guess. Look, I can't explain this shit. It's cool, original, and you might like it. So, here's a video and go download it.

1. ザツヨンスル (1部)
2. 意欲、右翼 (2部)
3. 相違 (SE)
4. 透明な先行 (1部、hanamauii ver)
5. dancefollower or clearvoice or non (2部、sew or sewi)
6. expected back (1部、siox ver)
7. 慟哭2 (sew、プリプロダクション)
8. 明るい朝 (2部、hanamauii)

Friday, April 27, 2012

[Bandcamp] Tetola93 - split with Visyaaa [2012]

Whew... what a week. I do get a little tired trying to write about bands everyday. I wasn't a journalism or writing major, so I usually have a limited vocabulary to write about music. I guess I've improved, but it's still tough. So, usually I schedule things on Friday that I'm really into. This ends the week on a good point for me and gives me some motivation to keep going through the week. At first I didn't do it on purpose, but now I try to bookend the week with two releases that are easier for me to write about (because I love them). This also lets me exercise some flexibility during the week and post stuff that I might not know that much about. I listen to a lot of different kind of stuff (right now I'm listening to the Persona 3 OST), and not all of it would fit on this site, but I try to cover almost everything in the Japanese underground (except maybe the noise/experimental scene. That's suicide trying to go after all that stuff). But, today is not that day. Today is about distilled Japanese screamo and Tetola93.


Sometimes I dive directly into a band, sometimes I dip my toe in and slow go deeper. I first heard Tetola93 on the Phone/Tetola93/AO split. It was streaming on spotify, and I heard about it through phone (maybe I was looking at their myspace?). It was pretty immediate, they were amazing. But their myspace had very little information. I listened the the split songs several times, and then it slipped out of my memory.

Later, I was sharing some music with a friend, and they shared Tetola93's 3rd demo and an EP. That was when the love affair started, but still slowly. I listened to the songs and liked them, but they hadn't sunk in yet. I would listen through both releases together, the epic emo-violence washing over me, and it would be over before I knew it.

But then, they put up their bandcamp site. Have I mentioned how much I love bandcamp? Yeah, probably. I had watched a trailer of their upcoming split with Visyaa, and drooled a bit. So when I saw it on their bandcamp, I listened and listened and listened. I might've listened to those 5 tracks 10 times in the first day. It was wonderful, they were perfect. It reminded me of how I used to listen to Love Like... Electrocution's full-length. There would be these small parts in each one of the songs that would only last maybe 10 seconds, but they were perfect, so I would listen to some songs on repeat, just over and over. With Tetola93, it was the same thing. Each song had so many different feelings, emotions, and sounds that I would listen and re-listen. And I didn't get sick of the songs, I just kept finding new things in them.

You might listen and think Killie or Louise Cyphre. Maybe a mashup of the two. And I'd agree to a point, because there is definitely a similar song structure and dynamic range between all three bands. But where those bands stay pretty focused on a very narrow sound, Tetola93 opens it up just a bit and lets in some light. One of the most obvious expansions is the sung vocals that overlay a lot of the screaming. I admit, at first I didn't get it; I thought it sounded a little weird. But now I get it, and see how perfect it is and how much it changes the sound. Agh, just listen to OVID on the 3rd Demo at 0:20 and you'll see exactly what I mean. It's singing, but not how other bands do it. It's like this intense, desperate, begging singing, asking the screamo gods for mercy. It just adds so much to the music, and its something that if it was not in the music, it would sound completely different and not as perfect.

I don't know much about the band, so there's not much else to say. I really got chills when I watched the video I posted up above. Just the intensity in that video and how perfectly it matched to the music is pretty rare. I think there's something really special about this band.

On a good note, I'll be getting copies of this split and the Phone/Tetola93/AO split in my distro soon. Look for it!

1. Habit Was Tampered With
2. Take Away The Life There Is No Right
3. Meritocracy
4. Dying For One's Country
5. Sinks In Marsh

Thursday, April 26, 2012

[Bandcamp] Redskins - Trial By Stone EP [2011]

Their bandcamp introduces them best, so here it is in their own words:

"The redskins are an ambient black metal band from Tokyo, Japan.
In Tokyo, on March 12th 2011, three friends entered a rehearsal studio as a means to distract themselves from the previous day's tragic events. Over the following weeks all the fear, anger and loss that was experienced during the disaster was channelled into this project."

It's hard to follow that up. A band with a purpose reacting to a tragedy. Go ahead and hit play on the bandcamp player below. I think "fear, anger and loss" is exactly what I hear, wrapped up in a shell of ambient black-metal screamo doom. Despite the very rough recordings, the intensity and melodies appear behind a cloud of delay and noise. I think the likely comparison is to Wolves in the Throne Room, but they always bore me and their melodies are garbage. Redskins songs are much more concise and focused, lasting 4-5 minutes at the most, and there's real passion and humanity present in their sound.

Redskins guitarist is Jordan from The Black Line Fever. I spoke with him recently, and he said they should be making some new recordings soon. I can see the potential in these songs, and expect a lot of good things from the new ones. One of their early shows was played under a bridge in Tokyo. They were all shirtless with large upside down crosses painted on their chests. There's a photo album on their facebook page, with a very confused looking cop shutting down the show. Ah, would've been great to be there.

Check out the songs below and tell me what you think!

1. Trial By Stone
2. Sleepless Tremors (live)
3. Santiago
4. Army of the Andes

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

[Bandcamp] Pastafasta - split with Swarrrm [2011]

I picked up the Pastafasta/Swarrrm split CD from CCJ Records for Swarrrm. I've been a huge fan of them since I grabbed their Swarrrm/Fugaku split CD back in 2002. In 2003 I even bough a shirt of theirs from Allman, which I still wear to this day. They've done amazing work as the band evolved from Against Again to Nise Kyuseishu Domo to Black Bong, their sound becoming more and more unique and inventive. But when I got this CD, I almost forgot all about Swarrrm because of Pastafasta's tracks.

Pastafasta is a three-piece from Tokyo with a horrible name. Maybe you like it, but to me, it doesn't sound like a band I would want to listen to. Their sound, though, is completely different. They play raging hardcore thrash that reminds me of The Futures, Youth Enrage, and Exclaim. The best of Japanese hardcore with a wicked sense of humor. These songs just hit all the right notes with perfectly played drums, wild guitars, rumbling bass, and dual shrieking vocals.

It's not often that I'm surprised when I get CDs or records. I usually know what I'm buying. Pastafasta was the best kind of surprise, and now they've put their tracks up on Bandcamp for you to listen and buy. Check out the video below and the bandcamp link.

2. 狂乱

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

[Bandcamp] Elica - 2 songs [2011]

I'm not an expert on DC-style hardcore. I only dabbled in Minor Threat and Bad Brains. I bought a Fugazi LP from Hot Topic. So, when I say I'm probably not the best person to write about this stuff, I'm just being honest. I'm not even sure I can say this is "DC-style hardcore" or "No Idea" style post-punk. When I listen to it, it reminds me of the times I've listened to that stuff. Unfortunately, those were few and far between.

What I can talk about is how they are fairly unique in the Japanese scene. They hint at the melodic post-hardcore of 1000travels and Infro, but try to stay dissonant through most of their songs. Some of the dissonance and shouted vocals remind me a lot of There Is A Light That Never Goes Out. And their general sound owes much to their label-mates, This Time We Will Not Promise And Forgive, whom they cover in another song on their bandcamp. There are probably more influences that I'm not aware of, and possibly even a solid scene that they fit into in Japan (Snuffy Smile Records or Imomushi perhaps?). But, they mostly play with Tokyo screamo bands, so that seems to be where their loyalty lies anyway.

There are two-songs from their new full-length on Bandcamp, which was released in Japan by Oto Records.  You can pick it up from Go Forward Keep Distro (among others). They are friendly to send around the world, so just send an email. Reading the description in the distro, I can see that I wasn't far off from my understanding of the music.

If it sounds like your thing, check it out!

1. letter
2. AM 1:00

Monday, April 23, 2012

[Bandcamp] Sete Star Sept - Gero Me [2011]

50 songs, an exercise in desensitization. In many ways, the cover above pretty much sums up Sete Star Sept (SSS) (they do say a picture is worth a thousand words). But, putting a Shintaro Kago drawing on your cover (and a wild one at that) takes some pretty big balls. Kago is on the forefront of the insane manga wave and to liken yourself to his stature means you're pretty much setting yourself up for failure. Luckily, though SSS pulls it together and blows your face off, just like this cover.

Two people and a wall-full of noise. Between two instruments and a voice, they make the grindiest, power-violentiest concoction around. Most two-pieces usually go for fast stuff, but SSS takes it to a whole new level. As this 50-song album can attest, songs will be as fast as they can humanly be played and as short as one second (take that Napalm Death!).

SSS is on tour in the West Coast USA starting this Friday. Below are the show dates, so make it out if you can, or just check them out on the MRR radio show on Friday:

April 27 (Friday): San Francisco, CA
     Maximum Rock and Roll Radio show
April 28 (Saturday): San Francisco, CA at Parkside
     w/Tragedy, Needles,Permanent Ruin, Stressors
     more info:
April 29 (Sunday): Portland, OR at Brickshit House
     w/Transient, Honduran, Worthless Eaters
     more info:
April 30 (Monday): Seattle, WA at Club M
     w/Same Sex Dictator, Sidetracked, Spirit Of Radio, Exogroth
     more info:
May 1 (Tuesday): Arcata, CA at Mex'N'Wow
May 2 (Wednesday): Bakersfield, CA at Munoz Gym
     w/Runamuck, Mobius Dick, Whore Scent
     more info:
May 3 (Thursday): Las Vegas, NV at Yayo Taco
     w/God's America a.k.a. The Seeds Of Rape, Nests, Vihan Rytmi
     more info:
May 4 (Friday): Los Angeles, CA at Rito's house
     w/Suffering Luna, deadissue
May 5 (Saturday): Concord, CA at Greenhouse
     w/Godstomper, Your Enemy, Queffer Sotherland, Striations

Their full-length from last year is available on bandcamp (and amazon and probably iTunes), and the whole thing can be streamed on the site:

1. gero me
2. social insect 
3. all time low
4. schizop hrenia 
5. prayer prayer
6. absolute zero 
7. supporters of euthanasia
8. waiting room
9. endless path 
10. gas chamber executions
11. lethal injection
12. enshrining
13. forty minks
14. water parks
15. lush
16. me lush soft
17. lush end 
18. active immunity
19. u.f.o
20. suck a dummy
21. counter productive
22. scoliosis
23. bein a haze
24. shi talks silence
25. dust bowl
26. windswept
27. vamoose 
28. zip zag
29. mollusc 
30. playing craps
31. system of govemment
32. fill one's stomach
33. sensory aphasia
34. vocal apparatus
35. motion sickness
36. counterattack
37. press restraints
38. fairy forest
39. fuck1
40. fuck2
41. fuck3
42. fuck4
43. fuck5
44. fuck6
45. fuck7
46. fuck8
47. he needs a lesson
48. lesson charge
49. lseeo7
50. multiple personality

Sunday, April 22, 2012

[Bandcamp Week!] Schedule for Week of 4/22/2012

Well, I said I wasn't going to do another theme week, but I wanted to catch up on the backlog of bandcamp posts I have to make. To add to it, Sete Star Sept will be doing a West Coast USA Tour, so I thought it would be a good time to profile them. The dates for their tour are April 27 - May 5th. They're basically landing in California, playing up to Seattle and then heading back down to California. So, check them out if they pass by!

In addition, Pastafasta has tracks up from their split with Swarrrm which totally blew my mind. And Tetola93 just upped most of their discography!! Those guys really impress me with some intense but epic screamo-violence, reminding me of Killie & Louise Cyphre in a knife fight.

So, this week should be fun! I'm excited! Are you excited?

Monday - Sete Star Sept - Gero Me [2011]
     - 2-piece power-violence, noise, grind unit. On tour in the USA this month!
Tuesday - Elica - self-titled [2011]
     - Post-hardcore influenced by No Idea bands.
Wednesday - Pastafasta - split with Swarrrm [2012]
     - 3-piece psychedelic thrash freak out band. Great running music!
Thursday - Redskins - self-titled [2011]
     - Ambient black metal ala Wolves in the Throne Room. Members of Black Line Fever.
Friday - Tetola93 - split with Visyaaa [2012]
     - Insane emo-violent screamo. These guys rip a-holes!

Friday, April 20, 2012

[Review] Atata - Tatat [2012]

I've always been of a mind that the more people in a band usually results in a more compromised sound. Too many chefs in the kitchen, stuff like that. I'm almost always right, as well. A clarity in vision and singular attention to detail can result in some of the most marvelous creations. Orchestras are ruled by the dictatorship of a conductor, Films ruled by auteurs. With bands, it becomes a little tougher. Independent bands are much more democratic affairs, and aspirations to a focused sound can fail more often than succeed.

With a group of seasoned veterans, experienced by playing in livehouses and stadiums across Japan, the chances of genius might be thwarted and a diamond in the rough appear. Atata make this claim by positioning 6 people in the same practice room and essentially letting each one play their instruments like insane people. But these are insane people all on the same drugs, all seeing the same delusion and all laughing in unison. Somehow they play together as one, as an orchestra, but each with distinct voices and no clear conductor to be found.

What's to be especially admired with each of the songs is the level of craftsmanship with which they're designed. There aren't clear choruses or verses in all the songs, and there are almost never two parts of a song that sound exactly alike. Like a jazz track, each instrument is constantly moving, improvising, and refreshing each refrain, independent of each other. The mastery of each is amazing. Angular, dueling guitars; versatile keyboards, going from buzzing moog to orchestral piano in the same song; sublime drumming that knows exactly when to hit the groove hard; bass that is as jazzy and smooth as it is deep and growling; vocals that are human and angelic at once, hitting every note perfectly. There's just a lot to their songs.

For me, music is really about feelings. What does this music evoke in me, how does it make me feel, what does it remind me of? Most music I like can evoke profound memories of important times in my life. In fact, it is one of my favorite past-times to analyze why I'm enjoying something at the moment. When I was thinking about Atata's newest album, and what it was reminding me of, I ended up making a list. Every song on the album is a different face of a single identity. Each song is its own ecosystem, and somehow I found myself lost in the myriad of memories hidden in each. Star Soldier reminded me of lullabies and Naht's The Spelling of My Solution, one of my favorite albums. Minority Fight Song put me back in college, driving down the interstate with the Get Up Kids or the Anniversary blaring from my dinky tape deck. Recito was every break-up I've been through, complete with the initial sadness and final recovery and triumph.

I say all this to express that this album is fucking great. Too often do you see bands full of veterans produce tired music, void of personality and passion. This is not one of those bands or albums. Watching their recent video for Star Soldier only reinforced the fun and passion they have for playing music for people. Every song on this 8 song album is just a finely crafted masterpiece. I've already listened to the album 5 times today, and I can see myself listening to it for months and months more, there's just so much to it.

The album is available in a couple places, that I can find at the moment. On Ototoy it is 900 yen from today (4/20) to May 3rd. After that it will change to 1500 yen. That translates to about 11.00 USD, so you might be better off just heading to iTunes, where you can get it for $9.99 or $1.29 per track. This is really an amazing album and you owe it to yourself to at least check out the video above. Below I'm posting a megamix, which has some of the choice parts from each song all mushed together. It's worth a listen too. The 3 tracks that I posted about earlier are on the album but they've re-recorded them, so there are some definite improvements. Even though there's only 8 songs, each is really long and the album clocks in at around 40 minutes.

Mynameis... - Tokyo Plastic [2006]

Like a bright morning, cracking your eyes to the clean, clear sunlight streaming in your bedroom windows. All around is a delicate silence welcoming you into consciousness. This day will be different, it will be good. Your mind isn't groggy and confused, like waking up in darkness tends to feel. This is waking with purpose and clarity. This is how mynameis makes me feel.

The album opens with a beautiful intro perfectly fitting a bright morning. Once the music comes in, it refreshes you in a completely different way. Nothing is what you would expect from a Japanese screamo band. Yes, there are the intensely good melodies. Yes, there is that bombastic dynamism that is present in the best. But mynameis is cut from a completely different cloth. The first difference you'll notice is the tinge of the melodies is towards optimism and hopefulness instead of depression and melancholy. The next difference that you'll notice is the passionately sung, not screamed, vocals that further that optimistic sound. They're shouting, almost begging, to the music gods to be something more than another band. And with those two center pieces, mynameis creates a sound that is all their own.

I got this in a package with some other CDs (Note, Bed, some others), and even though everything I got was extremely great stuff, this CD was my favorite. Even to this day, I will listen to this several times a month, simply because there's no other band that plays quite like they do. Similarities to more recent Sora songs could be made, but while Sora has forgone passionate intensity for dynamic breadth, mynameis has both. There's not much to say about this album beyond it being one of the best things out of Japan in the past ten years, in my opinion.

The band is still together. The last update on their website in September 2011 says they are writing new songs. I can't wait to see what they come out with next. Some of the members are playing in a band called heliotrope, which has put out an EP on the same label as this album (I'm pretty sure someone in the band is running it).

This still is available at a few places in Japan, so if you like it, buy it!

1. ...
2. 君に見た夢
3. 忘れた手袋 (再々録)
4. どうせ今日も同じ一日
5. カーテン
6. 言いたいことはそれだけ
7. イントロ

Thursday, April 19, 2012

[Interview] Blue Friend - 04/2012

Blue Friend
I first heard Blue Friend on Bandcamp, which I wrote about on the blog. They are fairly young as a band and not much info was out about them yet.  Through Twitter, I met the guitarist/vocalist,  Sho, and started chatting about various things. He had studied in California for awhile and even ordered stuff from my distro years ago. His English is good, I love Blue Friend, and I wanted to start doing interviews on the site, so it seemed like a great way to start. I'm not too good at interviews, so I apologize ahead of time for any lame questions, but Sho had some great answers and we talked about some cool things.

Ryan: When did blue friend start, who are the members, what are the recordings?
Sho: Well, I was in a band called Alyosha: (Alyosha demo on Bandcamp). I (Sho gt/vo)and Ben(drum for Alyosha, bass for blue friend)were in this band.Alyosha formed in 2008, when I was preparing for going back to Japan from Los Angeles, CA and I tried to form a band in Japan before I went back.I searched band members over the internet and I found Ben on Envy’s myspace. I contacted with him and he lived in Portland so I went to Portland by my car and jammed. Ben was trying to study abroad in Japanese University, that’s why I contacted with him. Alyosha kept playing few shows until 2010. Also,we had recording and a show in Portland, and we kinda took a break after that. And Alyosha got completely stopped so I tried to start few bands until blue friend started. blue friend started from Nov, 2011. I and Wachan talked about playing emotive band like Loma Prieta, Beau Navire, Sailboat together over twitter. Btw,I and Wachan knew each other from 2007 over the internet (I think owner of Loma Prieta's mixi community was him) before he started playing in a band called Akutagawa. Then, we asked Ryu (drummer for blue friend) who is old friend of Wachan (Wachan's said soul mate lol) to play a band together. He’s not really into screamo or hardcore but now he’s listening Suis la lune or that kind of stuff. Then three of us started jam and writing songs together. All of our songs on bandcamp/soundcloud were made by then. Next, we were talking about bass player and we couldn’t find good one, and we wanted a bass player who knows same music and good personality. Also someone we knew. So I asked Ben.Hes also used to play a bass in a band called night of fungi.( BTW, Ben and Wachan were coincidently in same university and same program.
About recording, I studied audio recording in US so we did recording by ourself at small rehearsal studio. For recordings on bandcamp, we recorded in Feb at rehearsal studio by my recording equipments and was fun and sounded good. In japan doing recording costs a lot, also, personally, I want to be more DIY!! A song on soundcloud was recorded by one studio’s ambient microphone so sounds kinda bad... We try to release EP/LP soon(hopefully in the summer!) 12" w digital download. It will be 4 songs i guess, including the 2 songs on bandcamp with mastering. And we would like to release split with my friends’ bands Asthenia, cofun, from ten to nine, document not found also overseas band like Beau Navire,Kidcrash in the future if we can and I want them to tour in Japan too!

R: Does blue friend have a message? What are the lyrics about?
S: Ah, it will be personal message from me and i think other members has different opinions and thoughts. It’s difficult, but I want to be more honest and people to be honest. I wanna talk more with new people. Someone might said it’s wrong but to me Japan is closed as society. People don’t talk each other if they don't know. We need to more communicate and know each other. Japanese shows are kinda interesting. We play with same kinda bands. But we would like to present there are so many different music, thoughts, people, belief, country, and we can understand each other like mutual respect. So we want to play with any styles bands we like. We like to know more different minds, we like to meet new people. To me Japan is great country, I mean, Japan has so many great people. But sometimes people care too much so they can’t express their thoughts I guess. That’s what I feel. The problem is high morality, i guess. It’s also good thing. On the train younger people give their seat to older people. Shit like that. Sorry,  it might be out of point, haha. But playing in blue friend means express our feeling and having fun time with my friends and meet new friends. I and Wachan want more younger kids start screamo/emotive bands and know this my friends and bands. Japan and US are different, there are no house show, no house party. So how kids have fun? Regular show costs $15, so some of japanese hardcore bands play at studio to make cheaper. Even studio cost money so it’s tough to play a band for younger kids (include me too!!). I saw some of younger kids play at the club and pay so much money for the club. It might be fun but they could do some other way like playing at their class room or city hall. I dunno it might be their high school memories so its fine. But kids seems to be stressed out and bored so I want more younger kids come to the shows and have a fun.
Lyrics are about same thing.we would like to other people to know they can start shit. How life is, how friends are, important things. We will write down our lyrics on LP so you can check it. On our songs, we sing our expression and honesty i guess at least for me. It’s tough. Im  so influenced by my friends in west-coast diy. All of friends are so nice and awesome. I think I like to be like them. support the bands, friends,family. I feel like US focus on their life more than Japan. I wish Japanese society shift like that in Japanese way.

R: What does the band name, "blue friend", mean?
S: Ah.... haha. Me and wachan its one episode name from Japanese animation. Kinda old. That episode is really sad story so kinda traumatized episode.Also, I like meaning of blue=a pure, heartful.
R: What animation?
S: Rahxephon. Do u know this animation?
R: I know the name. They released it in the US.
S: You should watch this and i think you kinda get an

R: You have a video on youtube of your practice session, and you describe the band as doing a "nostalgic emo thing." Tell me a bit more what you mean by "nostalgic."
S: To me nostalgic reminds me of my emotion from my childhood. We forget so many things when we became this age. I feel like we are losing shit. Life is hard, busy, so I try not to forget what was my feeling, thoughts. That’s why I like nostalgic. I think we just post nostalgic cause sounds kinda old. I like those nostalgic melody maybe thats why. I feel like forget shit is guilty cuz you forget your belief or shit is important. Also I like Saetia, Portraits of Past a lot so maybe those bands melody are nostalgic to me. I want to keep my thoughts and emotions when we play. That’s why i feel like nostalgic. Wa-chan describes me about nostalgic emo thing. It is because he only wanted not to start playing new music.
R: So let's talk about influences. What bands influence your sound the most?
S: Well, Iwrotehaikusaboutcannibalisminyouryearbook, Sailboat, Loma Prieta, Saetia, Kidcrash, Portraits of Past, Lautrec, ...who calls so loud, Killie, cleaner, Hammock, Final, sigur ros, Indian Summer, Still life. Other members loves these plus some ambient, drone, sludge, doom, noise, experimental noise, nintendo-music, shit like that.

R: Tell me about how the songs are written. Is everything made in the studio or do you come with ideas?
S: Me/Wachan/Ryu also jammed as ambient band before. Like this in the studio, we brings own ideas and build up songs. I think we are all in same vector so we can get so many ideas. But we can not find out right one. This is one problem recently. Everything sounds fine but all of us can’t agree with one. But I’m having fun with playing a band w wachan , ryu-kun and Ben.
R: So, you're still looking for your sound, i guess?
S: I mean... yeah, kind of. I think a song called dasai is what we wanna play, i guess. We just need to jam more and make cool songs what we like.
R: Sounds good! I'm listening to dasai now.
S: I enjoy playing a band so I wish other members feels same way!!
R: What i like about this song, and the others, is there is a sense of fun to them. Not necessarily happy, but like an adventure.
S: Haha thanks! Adventure.this is first time to hear about it!!
R: I always like to think of those kinds of words to explain music.
S: I like it! Yeah, actually I do too! Like this part should be like...forest!! Shit like that. I think image is important for me to add melody line.
R: What does dasai mean?
S: It means not cool or looks shitty. Its not supposed to be title but we published as dasai and friends already memorized it... saisho=first. For these songs, we will name as dasai and saisho. It’s funny, everybody said not cool is cool! I mean we named it because first intro is not cool so anyway, these songs will be saisho and dasai. I dunno about other songs. Those songs named fast and short also. You will see when our LP came out.

R: Okay, to wrap up the interview, last words!
S: We were just normal 4 guys but we would like to know more new people,bands, things and having fun so hopefully some of you read this interview and interest in blue friend, please feel free to contact with us!! We try to have US tour in the future so probably see you then!! contact: Thats it! :D Thanks!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Anchor - Kizu (2001)

Another release that seemed to appear magically in my collection. I don't remember how or when I got this. The first time I can remember hearing Anchor is on the "Light Your Way" compilation. They stood out mainly because of their instrumentation. Throughout most of their song, this epic acoustic guitar was playing. It totally worked and shaped the sound to just be totally unique.

Once I got this EP, I saw that it wasn't just a fluke on that song. They really do use acoustic guitar on almost all their songs, and it really works. They have this really folky, metal, screamo sound. It's like some Norse mountain music impersonating a Japanese screamo band. It's hard to explain, cause it's so unique.

We've got 6 songs here, which is a good number to really get to know a band. They are still together, surprisingly,  even though this is the most recent recording they've released. They appeared on a Festival DVD in 2007. Hopefully they're working on some new songs or something.

Here's the only vid I could find on youtube. There is another band called "Anchor" in Japan, but they are a rock/punk band (so confusing).

1. 塗られた手
2. 必要のない細胞
3. 無自覚の消滅
4. 自我
5. 底に至り上を見る
6. 「真実ヲ声ニ・・・」

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


One of my biggest complaints or issues I have with a stupid hobby like loving Japanese music is that it's so damned hard to get a hold of this stuff (outside of Japan, at least). Back in 2002, before Salvation & my label started up, it was even harder. Now, more and more Japanese distros are taking Paypal and are friendly to sending overseas. Another avenue that is moving slower, is MP3 stores like iTunes and Amazon MP3. I've even found a small collection of stuff available on Spotify! [Note: these are the only three places I've looked into, so there are obviously going to be more]

So, I thought I'd search through what was available and post my picks on here. This makes it so much easier to get some awesome Japanese screamo/indie/hardcore stuff. I'm going to post a lot of different stuff, not all will be underground (I do like some weird stuff).

This is by no means a complete list. If you find anything else, please post it in the comments and I'll update this post. Also, I'm going to eventually add this to a permanent page on top for easy reference.

MY PICKS [aka. stuff you might not have heard of]:

Anode - Kokou No Sonzai [itunes]
     - This band is one of my favorites. They released three 7"s on Dan-Doh records that were absolutely perfect. This is their first album on Cosmic Note. It's less hectic than their early stuff. Think "From Here to Eternity" era envy with even more melody. Highly Recommended.
To Overflow Evidence - Photograph painted out with color [itunes] [amazon] [spotify]
To Overflow Evidence - The Sun EP [itunes] [amazon] [spotify]
     - To Overflow Evidence is really, really good. They play some epic Japanese screamo with some post-rock influence. I'm translating an interview with the right now (it's taking me forever). This will not disappoint.
Bed - Turn It Off [itunes]
     - Super smooth emo. I was totally obsessed with this EP for 6 months straight. None of their newer stuff comes close to the magic in these 3 songs.
Phone / Tetola93 / AO split [itunes] [spotify]
     - Phone and Tetola93 play pretty sweet, chaotic Japanese screamo. Tetola93 has sort of a Killie vibe, and I dig them a lot. AO plays more emo/indie rock style. 
Tomato Steal - Self-Titled [itunes]
     - Nutsoid 3-piece screamo-violence unit. They did a split with Heaven in Her Arms. This is a full-length on Cosmic Note. Pretty nice, I listened to this for awhile.

INSTANT CLASSICS [aka. stuff you should already have listened the crap out of]:

Envy - All the Footprints You've Ever Left and the Fear Expecting Ahead [itunes] [amazon]
     - Sometimes I hate writing about this stuff. This album completely changed my life (like seriously. The past 10 years have all been because of me hearing this album).
Nine Days Wonder - Scenery is in Disguise There [itunes] [amazon] [spotify]
Nine Days Wonder - Aluminum EP [itunes] [spotify]
     - Back when they were screamo. These are the fucking baseboards for the Japanese screamo sound.
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out - ie [itunes] [amazon] [spotify]
     - It's funny cause I didn't like this when I first heard it. I was also an idiot...
Nitro Mega Prayer - Songs of Hypocrisy [itunes]
Nitro Mega Prayer / Balboa split [itunes] [amazon] [spotify]
     - I shouldn't have to say anything about Nitro Mega Prayer. They are one of the best ever, imo.
VA - The Document [itunes]
     - The pinnacle of the Japanese metalcore scene. This has all the bands (state craft, loyal to the grave, endzweck, birthplace) at the height of the scene. Classic.
State Craft - ...To Celebrate the Forlorn Seasons [itunes] [amazon] [spotify]
     - I already posted this, but if you want to support the label then you can grab the mp3s. 
Naiad - Hardcore Emotion [itunes] [amazon] [spotify]
    - Oh naiad. I got to see them once, and it was amazing. This is Kyoto Hardcore at its finest, never to be matched...
Heaven in Her Arms - Parasalene [itunes] [amazon]
Heaven in Her Arms - Duplex-Coated Obstruction [itunes] [amazon] [spotify]
Heaven in Her Arms / Aussitot Mort split [itunes] [amazon]
     - HIHA should be known by most by now. Here are three of their newer releases.
Endzweck - We are Not Pessimistic About Revolutionizing the World to Be Peaceful [itunes]
Endzweck - Strange Love [amazon] [spotify]
Endzweck - The Grapes of Wrath [itunes] [amazon] [spotify]
Endzweck - Ulysses [itunes] [amazon] [spotify]
     - Yes, they play pretty much the same song over and over. But it's a damn good song.

Various Hardcore Stuff:
Loyal To The Grave - Against the Odds [amazon]
Loyal To The Grave - North Truth [amazon] [spotify]
Inside - Tokyo Straight Edge EP [itunes] [amazon] [spotify]
Cleave - The Circle EP [itunes] [amazon] [spotify]
Cleave - Pay the Price of Love [itunes]
Cleave / For a Reason split [itunes]
FC Five - Super Bloom [itunes]
FC Five - Dandelion Blues [itunes] [amazon]
FC Five - The Anthems [itunes] [amazon]
Sete Star Sept - Gero Me [itunes] [amazon] [spotify]
Kamomekamome - Happy Rebirthday To You [itunes] [amazon] [spotify]
Kamomekamome - Luger Seagull [itunes]
Kamomekamome / Deep Slauter / Fuck You Heroes split [itunes]

Cosmic Note Records Releases:
Bacho - Reconquista [itunes]
Grind Shaft - Dance On the Shadow Side [itunes]
Nervous Light of Sunday - Jakushinkoukei [itunes]
Nervous Light of Sunday - Mabuta no uragawa [itunes]
Commune - get a trophy [itunes]
Commune - kill your blood [itunes]
Commune - Sing Out the Revolution [itunes]
Silence kills the revolution - i got medicine [itunes]
Silence kills the revolution - monroe vs. stones [itunes]

Slightly More Popular Indie Rock/Emo Type Stuff:
Lite - Past, Present, Future [itunes] [spotify]
Lite - For All The Innocence [itunes] [spotify]
Lite - Illuminate [itunes] [amazon] [spotify]
Lite - Turns Red [itunes] [amazon] [spotify]
Lite - Phantasia [itunes] [amazon] [spotify]
Lite - Self-Titled [itunes] [spotify]
Lite - Filmlets [itunes] [spotify]
Lite / Funanori - A Tiny Twofer [itunes] [spotify]
Lite - Live in New York [itunes]
Lite - Live in Los Angeles [itunes]
Lite - Live in Leeds [itunes]
     - If you like instrumental rock, then you are definitely in luck here.
KIWIROLL - Anthology I [itunes]
KIWIROLL - Anthology II [itunes]
     - Classic Sapporo emo rock. I think this is everything they ever did.
Lostage - self-titled [itunes] [amazon]
Lostage - Context [amazon] [spotify]
     - Very independent emo rock band. 
Toe - Ordinary Days single [itunes] [amazon] [spotify]
Toe - For Long Tomorrow [itunes] [amazon] [spotify]
Toe - New Sentimentality EP [itunes]
     - You know them, you love them. Unfortunately their best stuff isn't on here.
9mm Parabellum Bullet - Gjallarhorn [itunes]
9mm Parabellum Bullet - Phantomime EP [itunes]
     - Do these guys really belong here? Who knows, but I just love this band. As they've gotten bigger, their music has gotten more nuts, and I can definitely appreciate that.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Note - I Left a Note For My Friend Who Was Out [2006]

This is one of those mystery CD's. I got it sometime between 2006 (the release date) and now, but can't quite trace back when I got it. It was probably something I ordered from Oto Records. Whenever we would do trades, I would always try and grab some extra things that I hadn't heard before. In some ways, it's surprising that I even got this. Most english speakers would agree (or maybe I'm just standing here by myself), the band name and title of this ep are both stupid. Note? Really? It's like naming your band 'Red' or 'shoulder.' It's meaningless and not that cool sounding. I'm sure they just wanted four letters to sound like envy, and the long ep name which is also meaningless and stupid just supports that assertion. But, for some reason I thought this might be worth listening to.

Well, it's definitely worth listening to. It's totally great and exactly what I like. "All the footprints..."-era envy is like my favorite thing ever, so whenever there's a band riffing on that stuff, I definitely want a part of it. Note plays it intense and melodic and leaves the post-rock at home. They do enough different things that the music is interesting and fun, but always stays close to that epic screamo sound. There are seven songs here with dumb names like 'milkstand.' I'm sorry, it seems like I'm just insulting this band for their bad choices of english names, but it almost seems like a joke to me. Milkstand? Really?

I'm not sure what their current status is. Their myspace hasn't been logged into in 3 years and the site listed on this CD doesn't exist anymore. Their name makes them positively un-googleable, so I don't know any other way to find information on them. I think it's safe to say they are gone from this earth; in other bands or salarymen by now.

1. Tone
2. Filament
3. Milkstand
4. Summer
5. Chord
6. Pier
7. Arigatou

[Screamo week!] Week of 04/15/2012

(L->R) Tamao, Yuichi, Ponchi, Me - in Singapore for Gauge Means Nothing tour
Oh yeah, it's freakin' screamo week. I guess this stuff is supposed to be called scramz now... but that makes me sad-face. See, I think this stuff is called different things by three different generations of kids. First, there were the ones who were into hardcore in the 80's and 90's. They probably call it emo, because that's kind of what it was back then. I became aware of this stuff from the late 90's into the 2000's. I call it screamo because why the hell not. Then there are the people getting into it now. Screamo is usually used to describe radio bands these days, so they needed a new word. I say fuck it, I'm calling it screamo. It's just a word that is meaningless anyways. (also, I love how I say I don't care about music titles/genres but I seem to talk about it all the time)

So, this is screamo week on here, which will probably be the last of my themed weeks for awhile. I tried to pick stuff that was both really, really good and also not available online yet. It was a bit of a challenge to find stuff not online, because I've posted a lot of my stuff online since I got it. I find it in the weirdest places, with the most random people listening to it. But, I did find 3 things that I couldn't find anywhere else that are also high up on my list.

On Tuesday, I'll be posting where you can buy MP3's of good japanese screamo right now. I was pretty surprised with all the stuff I found, actually. And Thursday I'll be posting an interview I did with Blue Friend. I was really impressed with how it came out and I think you guys will enjoy it. Here's the schedule:

Monday - Note - I Left a Note For My Friend Who Was Out [2006]
     - Intense envy worship. I can't get enough of this shit.
     - A bunch of Japanese screamo you can find on Amazon MP3, iTunes, and Spotify.
Wednesday - Anchor - Kizu [2001]
     - Acoustic based Japanese screamo. Very unique.
Thursday - [Interview] Blue Friend Interview
     - Interview with Blue Friend guitar/vocalist Sho.
Friday - Mynameis... - Tokyo Plastic [2006]
     - Singing/Shouting screamo. This is one of my favorite bands these days.

Friday, April 13, 2012

NOT II BELIKESOMEONE - Tragic Orchestra [2006]

There are quite a few metalcore bands in Japan. The success of State Craft and western bands like Converge have made it a staple in the Japanese music diet. The problem is with the quality of these bands. More often than not, they are sad copies of better bands, and are quickly forgotten. I think one of the main reasons is that most focus so much on what could be called crowd participation. I'm talking about a focus on how people will interact with the music, often putting too much of a focus on breakdowns or heavy parts. This might be fun in the moment, but the lasting appeal of that type of band is nonexistent. The best bands balance originality and familiarity to make something that is fun to listen to, but also deep enough to stand the test of time.

I'd like to present NOT II BELIKESOMEONE as such a band, balancing crowd-pleasing rhythmic parts with original riffing and beautiful parts. Their goal from the beginning was always to make something new, which is always a good place to start. This is their first actual EP after a demo in 2003, and they have that perfect balance of originality and familiarity. They build off a base of State Craft and Hopesfall, but add other parts that could come from Envy or Snapcase (I'm reaching here). They really do have their own sound.

You get 4 songs and one instrumental here. If you like this, I do still have copies in my distro, which you can buy. Otherwise, it's sold out everywhere else I looked. Enjoy!

1. Broken Tact
2. The Mirror Shaped of Knowledge
3. Beneath the Sky that Seems to Come Falling at the Moment
4. Puzzle of Hope
5. Irreplaceable

Thursday, April 12, 2012

[Youtube] Down II Earth @ Kyoto Whoopee's 11/09/2002

These guys were some of my good friends from Kyoto while I was studying in Japan during 2002. At the time, there was only three (guitar, vocals, drums) but they had two guys from Lasting For Answer helping them out. After I'd returned to the States, they found enough members and changed their name to NOT II BELIKESOMEONE. I helped Masa (or Taf), the singer with his English grammar for the lyrics. He had grown up in England because of his dad's work, so his pronunciation was pretty amazing. They are still together, releasing an EP in 2006 (which I'll be posting tomorrow), a demo in 2003 and another in 2010. Hopefully they're working on more songs.

I always really loved their sound. It is a hybrid of classic Japanese metalcore and other more melodic and diverse bands. They fit kind of firmly between State Craft and Naiad. Hajime, who writes the songs, is really gifted and includes tons of fun and interesting parts. I'm usually not into vocals, but Masa has an impressive range. From guttural, goregrind pig squeals to smooth singing, he does it all.

Check the show out and check out the EP tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mind Touch - Demo-EP [2003]

Do I know a lot about this band? No. Did my scanner do something weird to the colors of this cover because it was printed weird? Yes. Will I continue to write in a question/answer pattern? Maybe.

I really don't know much about Mind Touch. They broke up in 2006. They were around for 6 years, as their blog says, but I think this is there only release. It is pretty well done, a mix of Japanese metalcore with some broader melodies and hardcore influence. They have more variety than the usual Japanese metalcore band and are pretty interesting to listen to. Only two songs here, but they are a good representation of a band that could've done more. Hope you enjoy!

1. Sign of Existence
2. A Seed Named "Hope"

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

[Youtube] Lasting For Answer @ Kyoto Whoopee's 11/09/2002

I've already written a bit about the group I hung out with during my study in Japan. My main friends were Kazushi, Masa, and Hajime, but they were all friends with another local hardcore band that I befriended. Their name was Lasting For Answer, and although I only saw them twice, we hung out on other opportunities. I had a going away party and most of the band members came, along with my crew. I remember the singer was telling me something about having the heart of a samurai in modern day Japan. I also remember how red his face was.

I got to see them on two occasions. The first was at Huckle Berry in Shiga, a livehouse I'd never visited. I rode in the drummer for Down2Earth's car, which had doilies as seat protectors. Seeing a bunch of semi-thugged out hardcore Japanese kids in that car was ridiculous. The place had a fair amount of people for a mid-day show. The bands were a total grab bag, some rock, metal, etc. I didn't completely understand the Japanese show mechanics yet, so it was weird to see all of these different types of bands playing. The one other band I saw was Some It Air. I'll write about them more later, but it was my first time seeing them and I totally fell in love at first sight.

Lasting For Answer was awesome and hilarious. The music was not exactly what I was expecting, but the guys played with such passion and enthusiasm, I was quickly drawn in. I was so used to my friends in America looking sort of grungy and messed up. These guys were completely thugged-out, with XXL jersies, Kangol hats, and hand-towels around their shoulders. Despite their appearance, they were totally nice guys and very excited to meet me. None of them had great English skills, so we communicated in a hybrid Japanese-English mashup that would've been embarrassing to onlookers.

The second time I saw them was at a show that my friend Kazushi set up, which also featured Gauge Means Nothing, Staple, and Down2Earth. I already wrote about this, but Lasting For Answer's set was a ton of fun. That's where these videos come from that I'm posting. Sadly, they only play 3 songs, like the other bands that day. Still, they're totally fun and I think the energy is pretty contagious.

I have their demo tape which has 2 songs on it. I plan to get a tape player so I can rip all the tapes I have lying around. But who knows when that'll happen. Enjoy the videos!

Monday, April 9, 2012

State Craft - ...To Celebrate the Forlorn Seasons [2000]

The year is 2000. You are in a Japanese band releasing it's first full length on a renowned international record label. What do you do? That's right, start your fuckin album off with some final fantasy keyboard shit!
You might say, "that's not final fantasy, it's more like black metal," but the end of that intro track is the straight up opening theme to every final fantasy since the first one, so shut up.

State Craft follows up the rest of the album with the best metal / NYHC cross-over yet seen. The exact science of how they put it all together is fairly unknown, however. Other bands have obviously done the same throughout the world, but State Craft came out the other end with such a unique interpretation that it really created a whole new genre. The intense melodic sensibilities cannot be overstated enough. Most bands running with these influences never stray far from open-E chugging. State Craft does not take the bait and crafts truly powerful melodies that run throughout all their songs. Dual guitars riffing together while the rhythm section rumbles through complicated time structures is just the way they do it.

It feels like there is a lot to write about State Craft, but I either don't have all the knowledge (I'm not too keen on the history of NYHC or metal, so even my description as a crossover of those two is flimsy) or there are simply no words to describe it. State Craft is just amazing. In some ways, they are THE band for people who don't care much for NYHC or metal (like I was a few years ago). There is so much in their music, I think you can find something you like in there.

Here's that debut album from 2000. It actually is still available in CD and vinyl, so pick up a copy if you like it: Goodlife Records

Here's a pretty crazy video. I've never seen that many kids at a Japanese hardcore show.

1. Ecliptic Horizon
2. Freedom Not Enslavement
3. Final Heaven's Deception
4. Into the Snowlight Gate
5. Bloodshed Revolution
6. Forever Yours
7. Creation, Domination, Retribution
8. Nocturne
9. Season's End

Sunday, April 8, 2012

[METALCORE WEEK!] Schedule for Week of 4/7/2012

Lasting4Answer with Ponchi & me in the corner
There's something really special about Japanese metalcore. It's kind of wrong to even call it that, but I don't want to bother making up a new word. "Japanese Metalcore" is probably the best title, because I've only heard one band outside of Japan play this style (Reprisal from Italy). It is truly a homegrown mash-up of a bunch of styles. So, this week, I'm focusing on that. I don't have a lot of this stuff, since I didn't really get into it until a few years ago.

If you're interested, a really great primer for this style is the "The Document" compilation which was released from Out Ta Bomb records. It has all the essential bands for this genre that were around at the time. I don't have a physical copy, but you could probably track it down somewhere online.

So, queued up for this week are some from my collection. Then I'm ripping some videos of bands I taped. These two bands were in my area and we all hung out together on many occasions. Lasting4Answer broke up some time ago, but Down2Earth changed their name to NOT II BELIKESOMEONE and are still playing. They released a demo as recent as 2010, and they're still playing around.

Also, I have to apologize for the late posts last week. I didn't put as much time last weekend to upload and have everything ready, so I was having to wait until after work to actually finish up the posts. I'll try to be better this week (keyword is 'try').

Monday - State Craft - ...To Celebrate the Forlorn Seasons [2000]
     - The only place to start. The ultimate Japanese metalcore.
Tuesday - [Youtube] Lasting4Answer live
     - Some good friends of mine.
Wednesday - Mind Touch - Demo-EP
     - Diverse melodic metalcore.
Thursday - Down2Earth live
     - My main crew in Kansai. Epic metalcore.
Friday - NOT II BELIKESOMEONE - Tragic Orchestra
     - The best hybrid of melody, toughness, and metal.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Staple - A Peace of the Puzzle [2001]

Staple... oh Staple. This band... this CD... I've listened to this CD so many times, but I still don't know the lyrics! Not that I care, because its one of my favorite things ever. I can still listen to this today and understand why this was on my top 2 CD's during my Japan study and the years after (Bluebeard's only album would be the other). So, I think it's totally great, but you may not, but who cares! It's frickin' emo week, dawg, and it's almost over.

In 2002, I knew people in the music scene in Tokyo, but none in the Kansai region where I was studying. Yuichi (from Gauge Means Nothing) sent me the contact info for one of his friends in the area, Kazushi. Kazushi was sort of shy, spoke a little English, ran a small distro, and set up shows in the area some time. We met at shows, and he introduced me to Masa & Hajime (members of NotIIBelikesomeone). They were sort of my "crew" when I was there. So, Kazushi had a really small distro that he was just starting and one of the things he sold that I didn't have was Staple's "A Peace of the Puzzle." He convinced me to buy it, and I'm so glad I did. Instantly, on the first song, I was hooked. Staple has the ability to just convince you of their greatness as a song goes on. I wouldn't say they have the best beginnings of song, but like a trusty car, once they get going it gets so good (sorry, that was a horrible analogy).

[Edit: I found a picture of Kazushi, so why not throw it up here!]
Kazushi would later setup one of the best shows I attended while in Japan. The lineup was Gauge Means Nothing, Staple, Lasting For Answer, NotIIbelikesomeone and Norde (I feel like I'm missing a band). It was my first time getting to see Gauge Means Nothing (and that's really a whole different story), but I was really stoked to see Staple. After the show, we all went to an izakaya, and I talked to the members in Japanese. The singer got really wasted and was saying all sorts of crazy stuff while the other band members looked awkward. It was hilarious. I seem to remember talking to them about setting up tours in America and other poorly worded and not thought out at all plans. After saying goodbye, I walked around Kyoto until the first trains started running. It was a good night.

Staple definitely sits solidly in emo week. Their sound is sort of Jimmy Eat World meets State Craft. They have multi-vocal melodic parts that are followed by screaming metalcore parts. I know how that sounds. I'm actually pretty sad that I described it that way, because it sounds like a million radio screamo bands, but it is not at all. Staple sounds like Staple, and I think their sound makes sense in itself. Describing stuff is so hard and its only made harder when bands do weird things.

Just try it out. Here's the video I took from the show. I didn't think I'd be able to upload it, but I was working on that as soon as I got home so that's why this post is late. Also, I'm drunk now so my words don't make sense.... sorry.

1. In the Forest of Elf
2. Forever
3. I Spend a Time
4. Change My Mind
5. Since 1993