[Hong Kong] Thud’s Debut EP “Floret” (6/30)

Late last year, Thud was a little-known band from Hong Kong whose single “Lime” had drawn intrigue from just about every shoegaze fan who came across it on social media.  On the back of their first single, the band’s popularity had continued to grow and with it the demand for more music.  A second track “Venture” was released, which was an encouraging sign that perhaps a proper release was in the works.  Fast forward to June and the exciting news that they will, in fact, be releasing an EP.

Late last year, Thud was a little-known band from Hong Kong whose single “Lime” had drawn intrigue from just about every shoegaze fan who came across it on social media.  On the back of their first single, the band’s popularity had continued to grow and with it the demand for more music.  Early this year a second track “Venture” was released, which was an encouraging sign that perhaps a proper release was in the works.  Fast forward to June and the exciting news that they will, in fact, be releasing an EP.

去年末、当時あまり知られていなかった香港のバンドThudはSNSで紹介された初シングル「Lime」によって賞賛を受け始めた。曲がリリースされてからどんどん人気が出て、新曲の需要も高まった。今年の始めにセカンドシングル「Venture」がリリースされたことによりアルバムが制作中かではないかと期待が高まった。そして6月、ついにThudがEPをリリースすると発表された。

Floret will be the maiden release for both Thud and Hong Kong-based label Records For Children.  The EP will feature four tracks from the quartet, whose sound features an extremely appealing marriage of ‘classic’ shoegaze guitar textures and blanketed atmospheric synths.  Shades of Slowdive and M83 – whose influence becomes especially apparent on the charmingly woozy “Venture” – can be heard throughout Floret, and though comparisons can be made to any number of influential shoegaze/dream pop outfits, Thud’s debut is an imaginative display of a sound that they’ve uniquely constructed as their own.  The whirring instrumental blend is entrancing, the rhythm and synth pop melodies danceable from start to finish, and the breathy female vocals are a thing of beauty.  Simply put, it’s a fantastic EP with no discernible flaws, that should be among the year’s best when all is said and done.  As an added bonus, the fifth track on the CD is a chilled out remix of “Lime” done by Max Bloom of Yuck, for whom Thud opened in Hong Kong this year.  

FloretはThudと香港インディレーベルRecords For Childrenにとって初のアルバムリリースとなっている。4曲が収録され、彼らの90年代シューゲイザーを代表するようなギターテキスチャーと多層のシンセサイザーで作られた雰囲気のある組み合わせをショーケースする作品である。Slowdiveの影響が伺え、気持ちよく渦を巻くような「Venture」ではM83の影響も感じられるが、他のバンドと比べるのは公平ではない。Thudのデビューは非常に想像力のある独特のサウンドの展示である。ギターとシンセの相性がぴったりで、リズムとシンセポップ的なメロディでダンス向きの特徴もあり、かすかなボーカルは本当に美しい。簡単に言うと、欠点のない素晴らしいEPである。更に、5曲目にはThudが今年香港のライブでサポートしたYuckのMax Bloomが手がけたリミックスバージョンの「Lime」も入っている。

In addition to a digital release, physical CDs will go on sale at the EP Release Show in Hong Kong on June 30th.  To follow news and updates regarding this release and future releases follow Thud and Records for Children on Facebook.  

このEPは6月30日にデジタルリリースされ、当日行われるリリースパーティではCDも販売されるそうである。今後の情報はThudとRecords For Childrenのフェイスブックで発表されますので、是非フォローして下さい。

Here is a preview of the EP via Thud’s Soundcloud page:

A Guide to Japanese Shoegaze in 2015

Well the first month of 2015 has come and gone and I’m finally getting around to my first post of the year regarding Japanese shoegaze.  I thought 2014 was a pretty good year in terms of releases, especially from the indie sector of the shoegaze scene, white some of the country’s heavy hitters also put out some solid new material.  Every year I comment on how shoegaze is continuing to grow here in Japan, but in 2014 the development was especially marked with the number of local bands releasing material and getting their music out there by means of digital releases.  Unassuming upstart net label Kiiro Records in particular played a major role in spreading the word about the country’s shoegaze scene and even the somewhat out of touch, but nevertheless influential, Japan Shoegazer Festival took applications for young bands interested in getting on the bill.  What impact any of this has had on the scene’s progress from here on out remains to be seen, and with that in mind here are some of the story lines to keep an eye out for in 2015:

Well the first month of 2015 has come and gone and I’m finally getting around to my first post of the year regarding Japanese shoegaze.  I thought 2014 was a pretty good year in terms of releases, especially from the indie sector of the shoegaze scene, white some of the country’s heavy hitters also put out some solid new material.  Every year I comment on how shoegaze is continuing to grow here in Japan, but in 2014 the development was especially marked with the number of local bands releasing material and getting their music out there by means of digital releases.  Unassuming upstart net label Kiiro Records in particular played a major role in spreading the word about the country’s shoegaze scene and even the somewhat out of touch, but nevertheless influential, Japan Shoegazer Festival took applications for young bands interested in getting on the bill.  What impact any of this has had on the scene’s progress from here on out remains to be seen, and with that in mind here are some of the story lines to keep an eye out for in 2015:

1.  Bands to watch out for in 2015…

Last weekend I headed up to Tokyo for the monthly Total Feedback event at Koenji High, the unofficial home of shoegaze music in Tokyo as far as venues are concerned.  The main attractions were Cruyff in the Bedroom and dive, but the rest of the card was loaded with really impressive young artists.  The opening act in particular is one that I’ve had my eye on for some time and had really been looking forward to seeing live:  YUKINO CHAOS.  Originally started as a solo project by the band’s frontman Sickboy, YUKINO CHAOS started gigging last summer and have been getting some attention by way of a bunch of demo tracks uploaded to YouTube.  Total Feedback was no doubt their biggest gig to date and they did not disappoint at all, blending screaming guitars, catchy vocal melodies, and an obvious 90s alt rock influence.  Their debut album should be out at some point in March.

From Tokyo to Osaka we go, and one band that really caught my attention is Whisper Voice Riot.  When I say they caught my attention it really means they have a song on their Soundcloud page that I really dug, but that’s a start!  The band, whose members are all high schoolers, have been praised by some of their fellow Osaka musicians, uploaded their first track “Stargaze” in January and are aiming to release a debut EP some time in the spring.

Staying in the Kansai area, this time in Kyoto, AOQ (pronounced “Aoku”) is a band that has been on a steady rise over the last couple years but hasn’t completely gotten going, fumbling through lineup changes and even once stopping band activities altogether for a short period of time.  Last year, however, AOQ settled on a new lineup and took to the stage, appearing at the Osaka leg of the Japan Shoegazer Festival where they really were impressive.  Lots of energy on stage, catchy pop melodies, and all the bending, reverb-soaked guitars you could ask for.  We’ll see if they can keep moving forward in 2015, and perhaps get together an EP or something.

This gem courtesy of Tokyo indie-rock/dreampop outfit Youthmemory was brought to my attention this week, and in very timely fashion as they are getting ready to release their debut EP Dreamin on February 7th.  The 4-track EP will be available for purchase on Bandcamp, and later in the month the band will start selling physical copies with a bonus track at their gigs.

2.  Releases to look forward to in 2015.

Maybe the best moment at the Total Feedback event was when Dive frontman Takaharu Sasaoka announced to the audience that they are planning on releasing new music at some point this year.  Until further notice that will be the most anticipated upcoming release of 2015.  Not to be ignored however is new music from My Dead Girlfriend, who are in the process of recording their new album.

The band responsible for the best Japanese shoegaze EP in 2014, magic love has also promised us some new tunes.  Their first mini album was originally slated for the end of the year, but got pushed back, and there’s no real timetable regarding the release as of right now.

Finally, Nagoya’s Tokenai Namae, who also appeared at the January Total Feedback, have been working hard on their debut full-length for which the kayou-kyoku shoegazers are targeting a summer release.  A victim of mediocre recording quality thus far, a properly produced album will hopefully be able to show folks why they’ve been steadily gaining a following throughout Japan over the last couple years.

3.  Who will build off an impressive 2014?

Last year’s releases were highlighted by impressive debuts and emphatic comebacks.  Juvenile Juvenile just wrapped up the release tour in support of their first full-length Our Great Escape – and my personal favorite album of the year – so that is one band whose progress I’ll be watching eagerly this year.  Oeil returned to action in 2014 with their first EP in 7 years and also toured alongside Aerofall and Vibragun on their Japanese tour last fall.  Urban Twilight left people wanting more and with Myrtle Oeil came through in a big way.  Hopefully we won’t have to wait long for some more new material…or maybe a debut album?

The aforementioned magic love made a comeback in 2014 as well, though not as dramatic as that of Oeil.  After roughtly a three year hiatus that began after the release of their debut EP, they got back around to gigging and released another killer 3-track EP.  We know there’s new music on the way, but will it be as good as the Dawn EP?  We’ll find that out soon.

Kiiro records, as mentioned above, was one of the big stories of the year.  The three shoegaze comps organized by the net label aside, in its first year kiiro put out an astounding number of albums (all available for free on Bandcamp).  It will be interesting to see if the upstart label, which is essentially run by one person, can maintain the heavy workload and if perhaps its catalog will start to include more and more shoegaze releases.

4.  Happy 5th Anniversary!

The Japan Shoegazer Festival turns five this year, and though the details aren’t really out there yet, we do know that the Tokyo leg of the event is being planned.  Last year was the biggest year for the festival to date, and with this being the fifth anniversary it will be interesting to see if the growth continues into 2015 and beyond.  While not necessarily the most representative shoegaze event in Japan (Total Feedback does a much better job of showcasing young shoegaze bands), it is the biggest, and a lot of good bands to find their way onto the stage.  The recent efforts to infuse the lineup with up and coming talent have been encouraging.

5.  Will shoegaze continue to grow outside of Tokyo and Osaka?

Tokyo basically has a stranglehold on most of Japan’s musical talent, especially when it comes to shoegaze.  Due to the city’s sheer size this is really no surprise, and Koenji HIGH hosts a ton of worthwhile shoegaze events.  In Osaka as well you can find some great new bands at the frequently held High Fader Night at Kitahorie’s club vijion.  Cities like Fukuoka and Nagoya have their fair share of musical history and impressive scenes themselves, but as far as shoegaze is concerned Tokyo and Osaka are where the events are to be found.

In 2013, Masashi Imanishi brought the Japan Shoegazer Festival to Nagoya and it was a big success, selling out the venue and prompting a second event later that year.  Sadly the second time around wasn’t as great and there’s been no sign of a return since.  Locally, the Day In Day Out event occasionally features shoegaze bands (most recently Juvenile Juvenile appeared), but there’s usually a huge mix of sounds on the bill.  Bands like Tokenai Namae, Aysula, miiia, mishca, and me in grasshopper might be the start of a growing Nagoya shoegaze scene but whether it will continue to grow or not in a city dominated by punk rock, rockabilly, and metal remains to be seen.

Kyoto is also a candidate for a third shoegaze city in Japan, with its third Kyoto Shoegaze event on the horizon.  The two-day festival will once again be held at Annie’s Cafe, and last year had a huge lineup featuring the likes of cruyff in the bedroomcigarette in your bed, and MASH.  The only thing lacking on the back end of the card was a good amount of local talent.  As the June dates approach we will see what bands await shoegaze fans in Kyoto.

[Japan] kiiro records presents: FOREVER SHOEGAZE 2

 
With 2014 coming to a close, it’s about that time for music bloggers to start taking a look back at the year and putting together lists and reflective pieces and whatnot. Lookingat the list of shoegaze releases in Japan this year, there have been quite a few from well-established artists and newcomers alike. For those of us in Japan, these new releases have been pretty easily accessible, while for folks abroad they have in some cases been near impossible to obtain. The overall lack of digital releases is a point of frustration for a lot of people who want a gateway in to what has, in the last few years, been a growing Japanese shoegaze scene.

Japan’s kiiro records, a net label established at the beginning of the year, has done its best to provide for an eager overseas audience. With a slogan that roughly translates to “easy listening for everyone”, kiiro offers a diverse catalog featuring any number of genres from pop to alt rock to grunge. In June however, the label got the attention of shoegaze fans with the release of its FOREVER SHOEGAZE compilation album.  Shortly thereafter, a collaboration with The Japan Shoegazer Festival was announced for the summer event, where an exclusive comp CD-R was released – the first and only physical release from the label.

Kiiro records will be getting ready to release its next shoegaze comp, titled FOREVER SHOEGAZE 2, at midnight JST on December 25th (Merry Christmas!), which will be 7am PST for everyone stateside.  Similar to its predecessors, FOREVER SHOEGAZE 2 will feature mostly Japanese bands, with some foreign artists also appearing on the track list.  This time around there are some bands that are well worth keeping an eye on, such as Tokyo’s Float down the Liffey and Magic Love, and some great overseas talent in Australia’s kigo (who also appeared on the first comp), The Bilinda Butchers (USA), and one of my personal favorites, DIV I DED (Czech Republic).  The lineup for the band hasn’t been finalized, but as it stands, in addition to those just mentioned, the following bands will appear on the comp:  Dream Suicides and Ask For Joy (USA), UN PLANETA (Argentina), and POLA, Lunchu, Corsage, Ame no Naka no Uma, and nayutanayuta (all from Japan).

As with all of kiiro records’ releases FOREVER SHOEGAZE2 will be available for free download via the label’s Bandcamp page.  Keep an eye out for a mirror download link in case the album meets its 200 free download limit.  Muso Planet will be providing the recommendation write up for the record upon its release.  There’s just a little over a week left until the comp is released, so in the meantime you can check out the first FOREVER SHOEGAZE album and some of kiiro’s catalog.

[Glasgow] New Music from The Cherry Wave!

The Cherry Wave have gotten around to giving us that music they’ve been promising.  The wait was somewhat long but in the end it’s been totally worth it.  The Glasgow foursome released the first track, “Whitey”, from its upcoming album, which should (fingers crossed) be out in the near future.  “Whitey” features two and a half minutes of the fuzzed-out droning guitars, howling leads, and powerful rhythm section that we’ve come to love through an EP and some change to date.  There’s a bit more of an edge to this track than the first EP, a direction perhaps signaled in last summer’s single “Under Dull Grey Skies”, which appeared on Lamppost Records’ Under the Wildflowers: volume 1 comp.  Anyway, it’s good to hear some music from the guys and it’s enough to whet your appetite while the finishing touches are put on a highly anticipated new record.  Have a listen, enjoy, and tell your friends.

[kiirorecords & JAPAN SHOEGAZER FESTIVAL V.A]

Over the last month or so the anticipation of this year’s Japan Shoegazer Festival has been building.  This year’s edition of the event has reverted back to it’s previous two city format, with the first leg taking place in Osaka and the second in Tokyo.  This year’s Shoegazer Festival features a whopping thirty artists (twelve in Osaka and eighteen in Tokyo) and a ton of DJs, shaping up to be the biggest events in the fest’s history.
A couple months ago event organizer and guitarist of annual headliner Lemon’s Chair, Masashi Imanishi announced a that a special promotion with net label Kiiro Records would take place at this year’s festival.  Around that time Kiiro Records, whose catalog consists largely of free-to-download pop releases, put out its most recent shoegaze compilation titled Forever Shoegaze.  While details were completely unknown at the time, it was assumed that some sort of collaborative release was in the works.  Today the details were announced via Imanishi’s blog.

People who attend the event will receive a free copy of the Japan Shoegazer Festival-exclusive compilation, kiirorecords & JAPAN SHOEGAZER FESTIVAL V.A.  The full track list of the limited edition CD-R was released today as well.  Though it does include some songs that have appeared on previous Kiiro Records comps, it marks the first physical release by the label.  It’s a pretty nice bonus for folks who are able to attend what has to date been a really enjoyable day of music.  One can asuume that when the Japan Shoegazer Festival concludes, this release will make its way to Bandcamp as well.  The track listing for the CD is as folows:

01. SAPPY / 天国のフィーリング
02. adgreen. / mieko maiko 
03. The Feedback Radio’s / smile 
04. HUSH / Dumb
05. kazuma / I am waiting last summer 
06. penguin airways / heatdown
07. PARASOL/ Sometimes 
08. 17歳とベルリンの壁 / サーチライト 
09. Cuicks / warp to the next door 
10. daisyblue / early wing 
11. ヨシオテクニカ / 夜汽車で見た古い夢 Old dream takes somewhere 
12. magao / 海へ沈む
13. magu / 轟音少女はうつむかない 
14. なゆたのつぶて / 星座
15. the Jinn’s / din
16. nina likes light blue skirt / Wednesday
17. cosmos / 素晴らしい世界

To check out more of Kiiro Records’ releases visit their Bandcamp page.

 

Art-School Return With a New Lineup, New Album in the Works

Just months removed from the news that their rhythm section had left the band, Art School have announced the addition of three new support members to support core members Riki Kinoshita and Satoshi Todaka.  The future had looked bleak after it had been announced that bassist Takeshi Uno and drummer Hiroyuki Suzuki decided to part ways with the band.  With Kinoshita and Todaka focusing a lot of time on their side-projects (Killing Boy and Ropes, respectively) there were a lot of questions about whether Art-School was nearing the end, and some ominous tweets from Kinoshita made it seem like that was the case.
Now here we are in late-March and how things have changed.  The band has showered its fans with a series of exciting announcements.  The first of which is the addition of three new support members:  bassist Kentaro Nakao and drummers (yes drummers) Yuichi Sakurai and Isamu Fujita.  The new lineup will make its live debut at the also recently-announced “Kinoshita Night AX 2 Days” which will take place at Shibuya-AX on June 2nd and 3rd.  Both nights will be headlined by Art-School with Asian Kung-Fu Generation opening on Saturday and Straightener and The Mirraz supporting the Sunday evening show.

The last of the big announcements was that the band would be recording a new album.  Normally, this sort of news is exciting enough for fans of any band, but news that the band is currently in Chicago recording with legendary producer Steve Albini at Electrical Audio.  Taking a look at the laundry list of bands with whom Albini has worked (Nirvana, the Pixies, Mogwai, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the Stooges, Helmet, to name just a few) it seems safe to say that his unique and distinct recording style should complement Art-School’s sound wonderfully.

Hopefully this is just the start of a resurgence of a band whose fans have spent the last few months worried and confused about what the future would hold.  At least for now, we have a lot to look forward to.

Kinoko Teikoku Announces Debut Full-Length

Earlier this year Muso Japan announced that Tokyo-based dreamy rockers Kinoko Teikoku had released their self-produced 2nd EP “Yoru ga Aketara.  Well in the midst of their Japan tour, the band has announced plans to release its debut full-length album to be titled “Uzu ni Naru.”  The album is going to include songs from “Yoru ga Aketara” as well as new tracks that I personally am very excited to hear.
The 7-track album will be released via UK.Project, Inc./Daizawa Records and will be available on 5/9 for ¥1890.  It can be pre-ordered at Amazon.  The track list is as follows:

01. WHIRLPOOL
02. 退屈しのぎ (Taikutsu Shinogi)
03. SCHOOL FICTION
04. Girl meets Number girl
05. The SEA
06. 夜が明けたら (Yoru ga Aketara)
07. 足首 (Ashikubi)

 

New Release: Kinoko Teikoku’s 2nd EP “Yoru ga Aketara”

On January 21st, one of Japan’s most promising up-and-coming bands Kinoko Teikoku formally released their second EP “Yoru ga Aketara.”  Formed in 2007, Kinoko Teikoku got their start in Shibuya playing at local live houses and soon established themselves in Japan’s indie scene.
The band’s sound can best be described as beautifully intense.  Satou’s dreamy vocals carry the listener as the music, driven by a-chan’s guitars, flows from beautiful and melodic to thick and powerful.  Their songs are beautifully composed and sophisticated and above all else extremely catchy.  Kinoko Teikoku provides well-crafted and passionate music.  A definite must-listen and a prime example of a hidden gem in the Japanese music world.

Maintaining their status as a true local indie act, Kinoko Teikoku had previously only sold their music at live shows.  Until now.  The self-produced 5-track CD “Yoru ga Aketara” is now available online through diskunion (http://diskunion.net/portal/ct/detail/IND8920#.Txo16e-s43I.twitter) for a very reasonable ¥1,050 (about $13.53 USD and well worth it) which will get you 30 minutes of some excellent music.

For a taste of Kinoko Teikoku visit their myspace page and sample some tracks at http://myspace.com/kinokoteikoku

A live version of Taikutsu Shinogi can be seen here.  Enjoy this wonderful band!