Friday, June 29, 2012

Bed - Turn It Off [2007]

Oh look! It's a Japanese band with a really simple name! Surprise surprise. I really can't wait to move to Japan so I can start a band. I was think of naming it "Is." Well, there might be some copyright infringement thing with Was, but surely past tense and present tense is different enough, right?

Anyways, Bed was another random order from a few years ago. I didn't know anything about the band, but was just grabbing anything unheard from Oto Records' distro. What a frickin find this was. With such a simple name, you don't always expect the most, but bed delivers on so many subtle levels. It could be argued that there aren't many world-class emo bands in Japan. Toe comes to mind immediately, maybe Malegoat. I would say that Bluebeard's pronunciation is too bad and Curve's voice too whiny to stand up next to their counterparts. But Bed is certainly on that level.

Here they offer their first three songs, full of smooth, jazzy emo. You can tell Karate is a big influence, by the jazziness and rhythmic quality of the music. But beyond that, there is just such a nice cohesiveness to the music. Nothing is jarring or sounds out of place. Even when the band gets slightly heavy, it still just feels so right.

I haven't cared much for Bed's output after this. It isn't bad, but it just doesn't approach how amazing and out-of-nowhere this EP was. Maybe I'm just super picky and only want bands to record short outputs and then break up and be completely unheard. Yeah, I think I'm just a sadistic bastard after all...

1. おとしもの
2. Immovable Guy's Salvation
3. Ain't Nobody (Past And Present)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

[Bandcamp] Forms of Talk - Tape [2012]

Forms of Talk is a new band out of Tokyo, 2/3 non-Japanese (or gaijin). They run in the same circles in Tokyo as From Ten To Nine, Asthenia, and Document Not Found. Two weeks ago they released their first cassette, but also had the foresight to put it up on bandcamp as well, which is great for us that don't live over there. You can even name your own price!

I don't have a lot of background in this sort of dissonant, post-punk stuff, so I had John from The Song of Delight help me out. I'm just going to paste our conversation:

can you tell me what this sounds like?
i just can't really place it right now
its a very 90s emotive hardcore vibe for me, Shotmaker or something like that
honestly getting a huge Ambassador 990 vibe

So there you have it, folks. 90s emotive hardcore. It pretty much hits the nail on the head, I think. It reminded me a lot of Union of Snakes, just as my most recent reference. It's good and has a fat recording. It's seems like the band's only been together for a few months now, so I'm excited to see what they do next. If this sounds like something you're interested in, you should definitely check it out.

Here's a live vid during one of their practices:

1. Stras
2. Positional
3. No Soul
4. Cables
5. Mountain Worker

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

[Review] Toe - The Future Is Now EP [2012]

[I wrote this at the bus stop, so sorry if I ramble]

Four bucks, four songs. An easy transaction, like an Internet drug deal. Itunes, amazon, pick your poison. Toe's newest ep is as accessible as their first ep was inaccessible, the difference of a decade changing more than just their sound. Maybe it's some sort of consolation prize that they released their first ep on all those new-fangled stores at the same time. What can be said for sure is that ten years later Toe is calmer, but they still have that spark that makes them one of a kind.

Let's talk history. I think I loved Toe before I'd even heard them. They were just a mention on the catune website when I emailed them about a show they had scheduled in kyoto that fall. Had I heard a sample off their debut ep? Maybe. Still, I was curious and subsequently disappointed when they told me the show was canceled. I was only in Japan for four months and the only show that would come close to me had slipped through my fingers. Still, I hunted down their ep and found it, probably in a Tower Records or HMV. The sharply designed yet nostalgic art set the stage for the best instrumental CD I would hear for the next ten years. Everything about it was a calling, a major raising of the bar that would stand the test of time. Was I hooked? Holy shit yes.

I kept listening through a compilation, album, and another ep, but they lost me on For Long Tomorrow. Something about it just seemed lost in between two worlds. There was Toe-the-former, purveyor of mad instrumental skills and drumming that dropped my jaw (literally. When I saw those videos from their RGBDVD and watched that drummer's hands move, my mouth hung open for about 2.3 minutes). Then there was Toe-the-middle (which only exists because there is a different Toe-the-present now), who seemed unsure about how to proceed now that they'd hit indie darling status. They seemed more focused on doing vocal cameos than crafting sharp, other-worldly instrumental tunes. So I tuned out and forgot about Toe, thinking they were done.

Well, four bucks is a damn fine selling point, like I said. When I see something I'm curious about and the price is right, my impulsive side always gets the better of me. So, seconds later, my bank account four dollars lighter, I started listening to the new Toe ep.

There's this perception in my mind of what Toe should be. I demand certain things from my Toe and get pissed when those aren't fulfilled. I want absolutely perfect production. It may seem shallow, but I want my shit sparklingly clear. Second, I need some guitar riffs that are so sharp I can cut my teeth on them. And they need to be something that I could never realistically expect to play myself. Yes, I want guitar work that is so good it's unrealistic. Third, the drumming doesn't have to be insane, but it also has to be perfect. I don't need to describe perfect anymore. In some ways, if you really notice the drums, then they aren't perfect. I'm not saying that they should disappear in the background, but with perfect drums, everything should become one big gooey glob of perfection. Finally, and this is true with every instrumental band, the songs should speak to me, without words. That means the song needs direction and purpose. I don't just listen to your music because I've got nothing better to do. I could always just go and listen to that new Big Freedia collection. Instead, Toe puts direction in these songs and paints these moods with each song. 4 songs, 4 distinct moods in each. And, as I'm sure you gathered, they also deliver on all my other pre-requisites with this new EP.

So, the future is now, apparently. Is this what we can expect from Toe moving forward? Certainly, although I wonder if this will feel as good when it's a full album. Four songs is the perfect space to explore themes and paint a picture of exactly what your band is capable of. 10 years later, Toe is proving they are still the masters of the instrumental rock medium, and all others should cower at the example they've set.

Pick the new Toe EP up at iTunes or Amazon. If you want a physical copy you can easily get them overseas from CDJapan or YesAsia, although it will cost you quite a bit more than 4 bucks then, and that makes my review irrelevant (:-().

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

[Bandcamp] Wombscape - Demo [2012]

I picked this demo up recently, and totally enjoyed the epic, metal-influenced screamo hardcore mashup. It's really hard to describe wombscape in words other than that. At each part of their songs, they're playing a different style than the previous part. It all comes together over the length of their two songs on this demo. It kind of reminds me of this old band Womb, which is, y'know, part of this band's name. Kinda weird.

I think the model setup here is totally ingenious. I've often struggled with a way to get Japanese demos available outside of Japan. Usually bands are selling them for 200-300 yen (around 3 bucks), which is hardly even worth the shipping over here. If I were to try and get them wholesale, the band would essentially have to give them to me for free for me to sell them at a reasonable cost. Web-based distribution, like Bandcamp, for demos makes more sense in order to get your music out to people who aren't able to come to your shows.

With that being said, you can grab this demo for 2 bucks American, which is a steal. One of the songs is listenable on bandcamp, but the other only comes with a purchase. The second song is a lot longer than the first, at around 9 minutes, so you're getting a chunk of music. And actually, the second song is a lot more epic and post rock-ish, with a little later-Deftones-like vocals, which I am 100% behind. Pick this up, it's a nice view of a Japanese band doing something a little different.

1. Shoku no Toki
2. Inside the Sobbing Sky

Monday, June 25, 2012

Kulara - Fragmental Remembrance, A Switch of Resurrection, and My Hearing Vanished [2002]

Kulara is the best. As I've already written, I botched my chance to see them live. Luckily, there are some amazing videos of them online. This CD collects two of their EPs together. Essentially, it's the last recordings they ever made. There are some earlier things that are collected on their discography, but this is the Kulara stuff that I know the most. Enjoy!

1. Brown Knife
2. The Belt of Sleep Freeze
3. Two Suns Day
4. Your Own Gain
5. Fate
6. Machine and Me
7. Human Pattern

Friday, June 22, 2012

Infro - Melody [2007]

Another week has passed. Now here's Friday where I post something I really, really, really love.

Infro has been playing for years, but this is their first album. 7 songs of emotional, fun, hardcore punk stuff. For fans of 1000 travels of Jawaharlal or Turbostaat. If you haven't heard of them yet, you're a nut, so please download this now. Anyways, back to playing video games. Have a good weekend!

Infro - Melody
1. shirukotowo shirukoto
2. kimiwa moumoku?
3. kotobajanakute
4. ataerudake hageshiikoe ichidokirinara kantanda
5. montage
6. kigatsukeba mounanimonai
7. magatteasenaka

Thursday, June 21, 2012

[Bandcamp] Midnight Parade - Various [2008-2011]

Midnight Parade has definitely been making the rounds. They've released stuff on Say Hello to Never Records, Further Platonix, even showing up on the Love the Fate compilation. So, they've definitely been busy and all, but I have none of these and had never heard them before. So, on top of my normal pleasure at finding a Japanese band with uploaded songs on bandcamp, I finally get to hear a band that has been on all those distro pages for so long.

The songs available on bandcamp are scattered, only one is off a release I could find available. Still, there's 3 studio tracks and 2 live tracks, and you can get a good sense of their sound. They have a bit of a Toe influence with the instrumentation, a little 3cm tour in some of the songs, and something else that I can't think of. Each song is plenty long and goes through lots of different moods before their epic endings. My favorite song of the three is 8cm先の憂鬱, which has a more aggressive tone than the others, and definitely reminds me of 3cm tour, or maybe Birth.

Check them out, and get their releases if you can. Now I have to add them to my list of stuff to buy in those intermittent orders to Japanese distros. Man, wouldn't it be great if there was a distro in the US that was trying to bring over Japanese stuff...

I have to say though, this video below, which was one made for the release of the unripe split, is so frickin' boring. These guys are just standing around, only playing their instruments. No emotion guys? Oh well, the music's good, so that's fine, I guess.

I'm not going to embed all these songs (they're all listed separately), so you can just visit the link below:

1. 8cm先の憂鬱
2. Sign of Discommunication
3. Red Light Discor
4. 8cm先の憂鬱 [2011​.​10​.​01 LIVE]
5. Red Light Discor [2011​.​10​.​01 LIVE]

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rise And Fall - I Dance My Dance [2003]

First of all, this isn't that other Rise And Fall. This is the Japanese band and they do not play metalcore. Now that that's out of the way, here's the Japanese Rise And Fall releasing their debut album on HG Fact. They haven't done much that I can see after this release, but I think they might still be together.

I picked this up in Japan in 2003. I can't remember if someone recommended it, or if I just got it because it was from HG Fact and wasn't a normal thrash/hardcore release from them. Also, the art is really cool looking, so that might've caught my eye as well.

Rise and Fall's sound is reminiscent of 1000travels of Jawaharlal and Infro. The disparate factor is the vocals, which are ran through some weird delay and honestly sound like garbage. To some, it might completely ruin the music, but I find that it's not that bad once you get used to it. But really, the vocals on this recording were horribly done. I can imagine that live they would be much better.

No videos of the band, because of their insanely generic name...

Rise And Fall - I Dance My Dance
1. boardgame players
2. on the radio
3. standing still
4. Last Promise
5. Leave In pt.2
6. Enough
7. glides down
8. bitter struggle of the atheist
9. common foundation
10. ill dance my dance

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

[Bandcamp] September December - Demo 01 [2012]

I never want to be one of those old guys, desperately holding onto the music that they loved in their teenage years. I always want to keep looking for new things and evaluating new sounds. There's always those people saying the music that "kids these days" are listening to is just noise, and I really don't want to be that way (unless it really is noise, and I'm totally cool with that).

But, listening to September December really reminds me of high school, when The Get Up Kids and Jimmy Eat World were putting out their greatest albums. It's just that great nostalgic feeling that pulls me back. Sure the sound is updated and September December adds in bits of that Japanese flavor, but there's that undeniable feeling of optimism that can only honestly exist before real life has been confronted (how's that for cynicism?).

I couldn't find any videos or anything else, but they've upped their demo onto Bandcamp, and it's really, really good. Just take a listen and remember back to those earlier days (or maybe your current days or whatever) when life was good and you had no responsibilities.

1. The Future
2. Black Sheep

Monday, June 18, 2012

Beirut5 - A Machinic Exodus [2003]

Well, I had a little bit of a break last week. Sorry about the weird posting-ness. I'm going to try and get back on schedule this week.

This is the Salvation-released edition of Beirut5's debut album, A Machinic Exodus. And, I don't know what a "Machinic" is either, it's not a typo. Beirut5 are from the Kansai area, and I think they have members in some of the other Kansai bands, but I can't be sure. I'm working on a lengthy interview with Jerome Salvation right now, so that will provide some more insight into this release.

Beirut5 has a sort of raw Japanese screamo sound, ala Carnival of Dark-Split, with lots of swirling electronics and buzzing keyboards. Some really great stuff.

I still have a couple of these in the distro, so you can buy it here if you like it!

1. Birth Of PPPPP
2. End Of Violence
3. Deep Focus
4. Boy Division
5. Sick
6. A Machinic Exodus
7. Narcosis
8. Distance No Resistance
9. Void
10. Mars On Earth (Violater's Hype Remix)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Taking a Week Off

Hey guys, I'm going to take this week off. I keep getting too busy to post for some reason or another, and don't want to leave you hanging. I'll be back with a vengeance next week!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Bo!Rock→1 - Self-Titled [2006]

The end to a weird week, me off my schedule, the releases not the usual screamo/emo that you've come to expect. Well, let's end it weirdly then. Here's Bo!Rock→1 (pronounced Borokichi) with their self-titled CD, one I got blind from a trade with Satire Records. No date on the CD, but I think I got it around 2006.

I'm not sure the best way to describe this, because it's not really in my sphere of musical knowledge. I guess I would call it garage rock? Descriptions on other sites say its like Iggy Pop or The Stooges. I never listened to either, so I'll just have to agree with those references. It's messy, noisy, loud, and fun. Vocals are screamed, everything played with a purposeful sloppiness.

Surprisingly, they're still together and rocking pretty hard. Here's a video of them from two months ago playing the first track on this album, Masturbation:

1. マスターベーション
3. フリフリ99'
5. プラス・ド・ライヴァー
6. P.S.
7. ブロイラー
8. ロッカン・ド・ロール
9. サグルソウル
11. 東京SEX
12. クロイチョウ
14. ドーナッツ
15. 33rpm
16. ラリラリブギウギ

Thursday, June 7, 2012

[Bandcamp] Atari - 2 songs [2012]

I am just not doing great with my schedule this week. Hopefully none of you guys are checking this blog at 12:01pm and getting disappointed by my laziness. If you are, then I'm sorry (ps. get a life).

Today we're going to listen to Gauge Means Noth... oh... um.... Atari. We're going to listen to Atari. Sorry, got a little confused there. Well, when a band lists Gauge Means Nothing (GMN) as their biggest influence, you know you're getting something interesting. To their credit, Atari really nails it. And they nail it in the right sense.

What makes GMN so special and amazing is the refusal to cater to trends, only playing what they want. Other bands will fade with time as their sound is dated and rehashed, but GMN will always stand out as unique as when they were still playing. There won't ever be another GMN, no matter if a band tries or not.

So, we have Atari here, and they definitely sound like GMN. Essentially, if GMN had created a genre then Atari would be in the same genre for sure. There is some similar parts between the two, but I think Atari reflects the spirit of GMN even more than the sound. This is reflected in some of the parts that are almost more grind or d-beat, definitely not what GMN ever did but still feeling similar. It's that mad mixing of genres and moods that made GMN so special and unique, and I think it makes Atari pretty special and unique themselves.

They've put up two songs on their bandcamp that have nice studio recordings, and the songs are pretty badass. There's another song on their myspace, but the new songs on the bandcamp are the best, in my opinion.

Check them out and hopefully the band will be releasing this stuff physically somewhere! Here's a video of them playing recently:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Framtid - Under The Ashes + 8 Track EP [2004]

I picked this CD up at a used media store in Nashville called The Great Escape. They carry comics, music, movies, toys, cards, games, whatever, and get their product from local people selling stuff to them. Framtid seems an awfully obscure thing to sell to a place like that, for sure. But, there's an older scene of "crusties" in Nashville that were grouped around early Nashville crust bands like From Ashes Rise and Asschapel. His Hero is Gone being two hours away in Memphis didn't hurt. A lot of these guys got into Japanese punk and crust through 625, Prank, and MCR, so there's occasionally remnants of that stuff floating around Nashville places. I bought my first envy CD's at a local record store, 12th Ave. Records, which has since gone under. That place always had good stuff and stocked a lot of Japanese stuff like Forward, Exclaim, and some HG.Fact stuff. So, yeah, that line of people is probably where this CD came from. Ironically, I never associated too much with those guys, probably because I don't dress punk enough or something.

My other personal touchpoint with Framtid was in the Netherlands in 2007. Cease Upon The Capitol was playing Trashfest, which is a pretty old and well-respected music festival. We played earlier in the day, but I noticed that Framtid was one of the headliners. We had to leave soon after we played, but I saw them in the parking lot, hair spiked a foot high of their heads. A part of me wanted to go talk to them, but I'm super shy about speaking in Japanese, so instead I hopped in the van and we took off.

This CD collects an LP and EP they did around 2002. The music is pretty fast crust punk that is by the numbers. There isn't much of this stuff in Japan (can probably count the crust bands on my digits), but Framtid is pretty solid regardless of their origin. The sound is firmly Swedish, following after early Wolfpack or Skitsystem stuff. It's good, though, but doesn't have the melodies I would hope to see from a Japanese band. It's funny how Ekkaia, a Spanish band, integrates the Japanese style of melodies into crust, but a Japanese crust band tries to stay away from those melodies. I guess that's just how the world works, or something.

1. Intro
2. The Total Arse
3. Over Population
4. Scapes Of Tragedy
5. Tomorrow
6. Consuming Shit And Mind Pollution
7. Centuries Of War
8. Death Protest
9. Curse
10. No Installation
11. Life's Hard
12. We Must Impart
13. Bomb Blast
14. Counter Attack
15. Third World Fear
16. Anguish
17. Crucified
18. Overkill
19. What's Going On
20. Homeless
21. Depression, Oppression

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

[Bandcamp] Trikorona - Various Embarrassments [2012]

In 2007, Aki from Impulse Records floated the idea of my band, Cease Upon the Capitol, doing a release on his label. A split seemed the best idea, and he offered Tokyo's Trikorona as a split partner. I'd only heard a song or two from their myspace, but I really dug it. That early stuff was reminiscent of Tiala, a blend of grind and emo-violence that I liked to call Tokyo-violence (stupid name, I know). The split went good, and their songs were amazing on the split, but not much communication happened after that.

Fortunately, they're still around and tearing it up. I got their split 7" with No-Yard from CCJ Records, and it totally rips, as expected. And now in 2012, they have some new nuggets for us to absorb, in the form of two songs on their Bandcamp.

Not much to say about these songs, they totally rule and are right there for you to gorge on. Thick, burly guitars riff metal while the drummer channels Spazz and Infest through sticks of dynamite. Just listen.

Here's a full set of Trikorona that will shred your face:

1. 完全に架空_completely imaginary 
2. ある野蛮_A brutal one

Anthropic Disease - Come To The Same New War [2003?]

First, sorry this is late. It's been a bit of a lazy week for me. Ugh....

Now then, I got this CD one night after a show at EMSeven. I was walking home with the 3cm Tour guys, and one of their friends, who was in this band, handed me the CD telling me it was his band. That is about the entirety of my knowledge of this thing. The band was already broken up, or broke up shortly after I met him. I have a feeling that someone from the band went on to play in a more well-known band, but I can't tell from the members list in the CD.

So, what you have here is some brutal crusty thrash. It's pretty dang good, outside of the extremely fuzzy guitars that sound a little ridiculous. The song-writing and playing is tight and harsh, just like it should be. Overall, pretty damn good shit to go to sleep to.

No video, cause there ain't none! Enjoy!

1. U.S. Fuck Off
2. 1:30
3. 差別
4. 毒キノコ
5. 生存
6. 北方領土返還
7. 投下
8. 搾取
9. Domestic Violence
10. Icon Of Busterd
12. 誰のセイダ?
13. Youth Of Void

Friday, June 1, 2012

Killie - Split with Off Minor [2008]

Finishing off the week with one of the few Killie releases that was actually "mass produced." There were 2000 of these made, not 100 like the cloth packaged CD I posted on Monday, so it actually got around. You can find this for somewhere around 10 bucks on, to name one place.

What's sad, is that with such great packaging, you get so little music. Seriously, only two Killie songs? And they needed their own CD? How about this, Killie. Give me something with, let's say, 10 songs. Anything. A collection of everything, an LP, a 5xCD. I don't care, I just want a bunch of your songs together on something that isn't a personal mix CD. It's like you're passing drugs out in a slow drip, and it's driving people like me into a frenzy. We want more!!!!

Ah, now that I've got that out of my system, these Killie songs are badass. I enjoy Off Minor, but only listened to their CD once. Killie's whats important here, and they certainly deliver (quality, not quantity). Umm.... I tried to get good scans of this, but it was super hard. There is printing on the inside of the cardboard as well, which is cool looking. How about, just go get this release yourself, since it's not being sold for an exorbitant price (yet).

1. 体脂肪と戦う
2. 脳死が俺の側に