Another weekend, another barrage of events and new releases in what has been a remarkably busy 2015 for shoegaze in Japan. The big news this past weekend was the annual Japan Shoegazer Festival, which was held in Tokyo on Sunday the 5th. Perhaps a bit lost in the hype of the fest was a somewhat low-key release from the proclaimed "Japanese King of Shoegazer" Cruyff in the Bedroom, who put out their new EP Laurelei at a Tokyo release event which also featured genre-benders CQ, noisy alt rock outfit Kaimy Plants, and local up-and-comers Yukino Chaos.
The EP features two original songs: the title track "Laurelei" and "She is a Low", plus a remix of each song by Broken Little Sister and Clubbers, respectively. "Laurelei" kicks off with a bit of dreamy melancholy, with frontman Yusuke Hata weaving a sad-sounding vocal melody through a mass of swirling guitars. There's a nice groove to the bass, and the drums are tight and powerful as ever. By the end of the song none of that matters though because the whole thing is enveloped in guitar noise deep down from within which Hata continues to croon on. Essentially, it's everything there is to love about Cruyff's music.
"She is a Low" is a bit more hook-driven and pacy, and not quite the immersive noise-fest of the track it follows, but it's by no means tame. It's a simple track that's chock full of screeching feedback and a chorus that will stick to your brain. "Laurelei" melodically tugs at the heart strings, while "She is a Low" sort of just steals your car and drives it really fast and doesn't care, showcasing in a little over seven and a half minutes just a bit of what Cruyff in the Bedroom is capable of. As a bonus, you get to hear what the lovechild of Cruyff and fellow Tokyo shoegazers broken little sister would sound like. Not to be ignored is a weird kind of trip-hop remix by Clubbers that took me a few listens to get into. It's nothing like the other three tracks, but is actually pretty cool once you get used to it.
For right now, the EP is only available at live venues - words that are no doubt nails on a chalkboard to the band's overseas fans. They've announced a bunch of tour dates in the coming months, with Yukino Chaos tabbed to support them on their way. Definitely a must-see for fans in Japan.
In the meantime you can hear a world premiere of "Laurelei" this weekend on DKFM's famed New Track's Weekend, and one or both of the tracks will certainly be on next Wednesday's Muso Asia. As always follow the band on Twitter and the Only Feedback site for further developments.