Shun Tanabe – “March of Ghosts”

I’m willing to argue with anyone that the Japanese Shoegaze Group on Facebook is the best place for discussion on the topic.  Through the group people are not only able to introduce bands to a pretty sizable community, but plenty of artists in Japan have a dedicated platform through which they can get their own music out to an eager and thoughtful audience.  The most recent gem to be discovered here is the solo project of one Mr. Shun Tanabe.  

I’m willing to argue with anyone that the Japanese Shoegaze Group on Facebook is the best place for discussion on the topic.  Through the group people are not only able to introduce bands to a pretty sizable community, but plenty of artists in Japan have a dedicated platform through which they can get their own music out to an eager and thoughtful audience.  The most recent gem to be discovered here is the solo project of one Mr. Shun Tanabe.  

Tanabe – whose Soundcloud profile simply mentions that he’s a company employee who records when he finds the time – quietly released a couple tracks online over the last month or so.  “Standing on the seashore” is more of a chilled out, dreamy piece and it’s pleasant enough, but “march of ghosts” is a track that got my attention from the first chord.  It’s a sweet, somewhat melancholy track with nice space compliments of a warm, ambient backdrop wafting around simple, strummed acoustic guitar chords.  

It appears that this is about the extent of what Tanabe plans to do with the project, but as long as he continues to put out music like this I’ll be listening.  At the moment he’s just got the two tracks, but there will be some more soon so stay tuned and give him a follow on Soundcloud.

 

 

Standing on the Moon with Whisper Voice Riot

By 1996 the shoegaze genre had sort of peaked in terms of popularity in its first go-round and made way for grunge and Britpop, while slipping away into relative obscurity.  In Japan the so-called ‘first wave’ of shoegaze had already come and gone with the country’s founding fathers of the genre long disbanded or still working out a release.  1996 would be the year that Luminous Orange released its debut album Vivid Short Trip, and a mere two years before Supercar would release Three Out Change and effectively kick off a new wave of shoegaze bands in Japan.  That’s a very brief glimpse back at the year 1996, but one to just put things in perspective.

By 1996 the shoegaze genre had sort of peaked in terms of popularity in its first go-round and made way for grunge and Britpop, while slipping away into relative obscurity.  In Japan the so-called ‘first wave’ of shoegaze had already come and gone with the country’s founding fathers of the genre long disbanded or still working out a release.  1996 would be the year that Luminous Orange released its debut album Vivid Short Trip, and a mere two years before Supercar would release Three Out Change and effectively kick off a new wave of shoegaze bands in Japan.  That’s a very brief glimpse back at the year 1996, but one to just put things in perspective.

1996 was also the year that the first of Whisper Voice Riot’s members were born.  The Osaka shoegaze band’s lineup consists of members born in ’96 and ’97, prompting comments about how they’re the future of the Japanese scene and whatnot.  The concept isn’t just based on the fact that they’re all still in high school, though.  They’re actually really, really good.  Right around the end of last year they put out their first track “Stargaze” and prompted a whole bunch of Tweets by people who were surprised that it was made by teenagers.  Admittedly, I was a little curious, if not skeptical, about how things would go from there.  Having witnessed first-hand how little free time high schoolers have and experiencing how tedious arranging band practices can be, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they just fell victim to the pressures of university entrance exams and disappeared entirely.  

That wasn’t at all the case, however, and Whisper Voice Riot has had a great 2015, during which the band been a part of some pretty good gigs and put out some new material – the first of which was a danceable follow up single aptly titled “Let’s Dance and Sink Down”.  Their songwriting ability once again grabbed a lot of attention, resulting in an invitation to perform at Hata Yusuke’s monthly Total Feedback event at Koenji HIGH in Tokyo – something of a rite of passage for Japanese shoegaze bands.  However, it’s in the Kansai-area shoegaze scene that Whisper Voice Riot has quickly become a mainstay.  Their emphatic performance at the Kyoto Shoegazer vol. 3 event at Annie’s Cafe this summer showed a level of confidence and poise beyond their years that impressed the hell out of me and just about everyone else at the show.  

The highlight of the year for Whisper Voice Riot was undoubtedly this past weekend in Osaka where the band had a supporting slot at the Tokenai Namae album release party.  They had teased a release of their very own with a new track on their Soundcloud page, but the show in Osaka was where they officially put out their debut 3-track EP Before the Morning Cleaves Our Night.  As a further testament to their increased standing in the Osaka music scene, the maiden release was produced by Post Modern Team’s Kishida-san.  

With their first two singles being pretty different, I was a little curious whether Whisper Voice Riot would go the way of the first and choose the indie pop/shoegaze path or if they might just choose the pop route.  Naturally, as a fan of the former I had my own hopes, especially seeing how their aggressive live show would be an asset to a Japanese shoegaze landscape that could use a bit of a jolt.  Needless to say, I am pleased with the balance of the EP and the fact that they, along with Kishida-san, did not shy away from the loud side of things while still keeping the catchy pop melodies in tact.

There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said in terms of Whisper Voice Riot’s potential.  There’s still room for growth, but they’ve shown that they should be capable of filling out their sound even more as time goes by.  I still wonder about the effect that their formal education may have on their creative passion, but to this point it’s done nothing to slow them down.  I had them on my list of bands to keep an eye on in 2015, and it’s reasonable to extend that claim for the foreseeable future.

At the moment Whisper Voice Riot’s EP is only available at shows, but they’ve announced that it will be available via mail order in the near future.  Stay tuned by following the band on Facebook and Twitter.  

Introducing Plant Cell

While 2015 has seen a lot of the heavyweights of the Japanese shoegaze scene releasing new material (with a few more to come before the end of the year) some new and lesser known acts have also emerged.  One such group is Chiba prefecture’s Plant Cell who managed to quietly release a ton of music via their Bandcamp and Soundcloud pages this year.  

While 2015 has seen a lot of the heavyweights of the Japanese shoegaze scene releasing new material (with a few more to come before the end of the year) some new and lesser known acts have also emerged.  One such group is Chiba prefecture’s Plant Cell who managed to quietly release a ton of music via their Bandcamp and Soundcloud pages this year.  The alt-rock/shoegaze newcomers formed in January as a two-piece consisting of frontman Sato and bassist Li.  Over the past 9 or so months Plant Cell has put out a steady flow of material including some pretty neat covers – they’ve done some Ringo Deathstarr, Slowdive, and quite a bit of Spiral Life, among others.  

The guitars are at the forefront of what Plant Cell does, which is fitting for a band whose members previously worked together at a guitar manufacturer.  It sounds like a bit of an obvious quality when talking about shoegaze, but Plant Cell takes much more of a Western approach than many of its fellow countrymen by burying the vocals and using them to supplement the overall textural of the music – primarily the big billowy guitars.  It’s a nice change of pace from the pop-heavy climate of the Japanese shoegaze scene.  I think fans of bands like magic love will be able to appreciate what these guys do based on the overall theme of the music.  

With the additions of Mori on backing vocals and keys and Oshima on guitars, the band is getting set to make its live debut at the end of the month, with periodic live performances being one of the plans going forward.  One would think that at the rate Plant Cell has been pumping out music a proper release would be a possibility in the near future, though at this moment Sato says that isn’t something that’s in the works.  With a very productive first year just about wrapped up for Plant Cell they’ve at very least established themselves as one to keep an eye on from here on out.

You can check out their body of work to date on Soundcloud and Bandcamp (the former has quite a bit more music and all of the covers).  A lot of their stuff is currently available for free download.  You can also give them a follow on Facebook.  

Tokenai Namae – “Time Machine ga Kowareru Mae ni”

Two years ago the Japan Shoegazer Festival made its first trip to Nagoya in addition to regular stops in Tokyo and Osaka.  Despite being headlined by more nationally recognizable bands from the two larger citites – Lemon’s Chair and My Dead Girlfriend – the majority of the bill appropriately featured bands from Nagoya.  There was some question as to how the annual event would draw in a new city and one with very little association with shoegaze. 

Two years ago the Japan Shoegazer Festival made its first trip to Nagoya in addition to regular stops in Tokyo and Osaka.  Despite being headlined by more nationally recognizable bands from the two larger citites – Lemon’s Chair and My Dead Girlfriend – the majority of the bill appropriately featured bands from Nagoya.  There was some question as to how the annual event would draw in a new city and one with very little association with shoegaze.  The question was answered in the form of a sold out show that had Tsurumai’s Daytrip packed tight, prompting the show’s organizer to book a follow up event with the venue almost as soon as the gig ended.  Judging by the crowd’s reaction during the course of the night it became clear that they weren’t just there to see the bigger name acts.  The night belonged to one local act in particular:  Tokenai Namae.

As a resident of Nagoya who runs a blog centered around shoegaze music in Japan, it’s been a pleasure to see the kayou-shoegazers continuing to pick up steam both within their hometown and outside of it, and in the process putting Nagoya on the Japanese shoegaze map.  They’ve moved a ton of their first two CD-R EPs throughout the country and have gigged increasingly outside of Nagoya, highlighted by appearances at Total Feedback and Japan Shoegazer Festival events in Tokyo.  The band took the next big step in their development this year when they wrapped up their debut full-length effort “Time Machine ga Kowareru Mae ni” earlier this year.

For those unfamiliar with Tokenai Namae’s signature blend of shoegaze and kayou-kyoku (a brand of Japanese pop music which originated in the Showa period and the foundation of modern pop music in Japan), the first two tracks on the album are basically an introduction to what they do.  “Koukotsu Kyoushitsu” (恍惚教室) and “Denki-shingou no Imooto” (電気信号の妹) are both catchy pop tracks showcasing the male and female twin vocals that ceaselessly shadow one another while bubbly synths bounce on top of subtle guitar noise.  One of the knocks on their previously released material is that the synths are a little too prominent in the mix, and while they’re still pretty high up there on the new record, it feels like everything else has been turned up and blended a little better.  One of my favorite aspects of the album is the filthy bass tone that contrasts the cheerful poppy vibe of the music really nicely, and they do well to showcase it from start to finish here.

The middle portion of “Time Machine ga Kowareru Mae Ni” is where Tokenai Namae really shines.  Not surprisingly, this is where the two lead singles “√ni-hiki” (√2匹) and “Calpis-chan” (カルピスちゃん) sit in the track listing, but the song that follows them, “Shoujo no Kannouki” (少女の官能基), is probably my favorite on the album.  For me the three-track block really showcases the band’s ability to write good songs.  The general shoegaze formula is predicated on a balance between beauty and sheer noise, but in Tokenai Namae’s case there’s an element of ‘cute’ that is vital.  Sure, there’s a fairly sizeable section of the Japanese shoegaze scene that leans heavily toward cute indie pop, but there seems to be an inverse correlation between said “cuteness” and shoegaze’s requisite volume and noise.  Tokenai Namae manages to jam them all together really successfully.

The last three tracks on the album are a gradual come down from shoegaze back into a more pop-heavy finale.  “Toumei Tsuushin” (透明通信) is sort of a perfect transition track here, while “Kanjiru Keisanki, 21sai” (感じる計算機、二十一歳) and “Suimin Shou”(睡眠抄) ease you out of what has been a largely pleasant listening experience. 

For an overseas listener-base, Tokenai Namae’s new album, and their body of work in general, may take a little bit of getting used to.  However while western shoegaze was born from western pop and the genre rode into Japan as well on the back of a Madchester craze, Tokenai Namae takes the principles of the shoegaze sound and reconstructs them around a uniquely Japanese foundation.  It makes for some really intriguing music that, at very least, will latch onto your brain and not let go without a fight.

As an added bonus, their track listings are like a really, really difficult kanji quiz.

Click here to buy “Time Machine ga Kowareru Mae ni” at Tower Records (overseas shipping is available)

Looprider – “My Electric Fantasy”

The mad rush of Japanese releases this summer continues, this time with the debut from Tokyo newcomers Looprider.  Though the band got started in late 2014 its members are no strangers to the Tokyo indie scene, having plied their trade in a number of local bands including Tropical Death Metal, henrytennis, and Yogee New Waves, among others.  The album is called My Electric Fantasy, and it is out on August 19th via Koenji-based indie label Call and Response Records (Hyacca, Hysteric Picnic, etc.).  

The mad rush of Japanese releases this summer continues, this time with the debut from Tokyo newcomers Looprider.  Though the band got started in late 2014 its members are no strangers to the Tokyo indie scene, having plied their trade in a number of local bands including Tropical Death Metal, henrytennis, and Yogee New Waves, among others.  The album is called My Electric Fantasy, and it is out on August 19th via Koenji-based indie label Call and Response Records (Hyacca, Hysteric Picnic, etc.).  

Toward the end of last year Looprider released the first single from the album, titled “Farewell”.  The umptempo track plays like something off of Supercar’s iconic Three Out Change record, with a super catchy riff and female backing vocals courtesy of Charlotte of Merpeoples.  It’s a very listenable shoegaze/pop track, but the band’s second single was something entirely different.  “Dronelove (Is All You Need)”, which was released digitally earlier this year, is a sludgy Sabbath-esque face kicker of a track full of muddy, droning hooks, grooving bass, and harsher vocals than those on “Farwell”.  Shortly after the release of this single the band announced its debut album would be released in the summer.

With two drastically different songs on the table, the big question leading up to the record release was which direction would they ultimately take their sound.  This blog and all associated projects deal mostly with shoegaze in Japan, where that term has often been blended with other genres and styles – most notably with bands like Coaltar of the Deepers, BP., the aforementioned Supercar, and Boris, from whom Looprider presumably got its name.  I wouldn’t call My Electric Fantasy a shoegaze record, but it successfully draws on the genre and jams in a bunch of others to create an album that is much more cohesive than the first two singles on their own might lead one to believe.

The first track on the album is the noise-filled instrumental title track that serves as a nice buildup to “Dronelove” and “Kill La”, a chugging face melter that really picks up the pace of the album.  To this point the record is extremely heavy and still very much on the metal side of things, but without killing the heaviness the band transitions to “Satellite” – my favorite track on My Electric Fantasy, and one of the better shoegaze tracks that’s come out of Japan this year.  There’s a persistent attack of bending guitars present here, though the vibe is much “prettier” than any of the songs before it, accentuated by really well harmonized male-female twin vocals.  It’s the sort of track that fans of “Farewell” might have anticipated, and it starts to balance the album out while keeping up with fine instrumentation that’s present throughout the album. 

“Thunderbolt” is a high flying rock track that kicks off with a Motorhead-like riff before drifting into a mass of screaming leads and chaotic guitar noise over a steadily pounding rhythm section.  “Interlude (Am I Still Dreaming?)” is another instrumental track, this time a lighter, more experimental weaving of guitar textures paced by a simple electronic beat, softening things up for the album’s aptly titled closer “Farewell”.

My Electric Fantasy is by no means a straightforward album, but it draws on some somewhat contrasting influences and puts them together in a way that fans of doom and shoegaze could appreciate, without every really becoming a “doomgaze” record.  Mixed and mastered by Charles Macak at Electrowerks Recording in Chicago, the album’s central theme is its loudness, whether in the form of a ripping sludge track like “Dronelove” or a fuzzy pop track like “Farewell”.  It’s a creative and adventurous album, and above all else it’s tight as hell, really showcasing a killer rhythm section that works in harmony with guitarists that want to blast your face off.  

You can keep up with Looprider news via their homepage, or by following them on Twitter and Facebook.

My Electric Fantasy comes out on August 19th via Call And Response Records and can be purchased in CD or digital format on iTunes and at the following links:

Seventeen Years Old and Berlin Wall – “Aspect”

Tokyo-based Seventeen Years Old and Berlin Wall (17歳とベルリンの壁) released their first mini-album on the 18th of July, adding on to an already robust month of shoegaze releases and events in Japan.  Aspect is a six-track CD, which includes some new music and older demo tracks that have received some much needed polish.  As is so often the case, some of the demos were pretty rough to listen to, and up until they released a split with Nagoya gazers me in grasshopper earlier this year, it was hard to get a feel for what they were doing.  On top of that male-female twin vocals can be very unflattering when poorly produced.  On Aspect they were able to clean everything up production-wise courtesy of Yasutaka Ishikawa, and the result is a surprisingly solid debut.

Tokyo-based Seventeen Years Old and Berlin Wall (17歳とベルリンの壁) released their first mini-album on the 18th of July, adding on to an already robust month of shoegaze releases and events in Japan.  Aspect is a six-track CD, which includes some new music and older demo tracks that have received some much needed polish.  As is so often the case, some of the demos were pretty rough to listen to, and up until they released a split with Nagoya gazers me in grasshopper earlier this year, it was hard to get a feel for what they were doing.  On top of that male-female twin vocals can be very unflattering when poorly produced.  On Aspect they were able to clean everything up production-wise courtesy of Yasutaka Ishikawa, and the result is a surprisingly solid debut.

The folks at kiiro records – who have put out some of Seventeen Years Old and Berlin Wall’s music via the aforementioned split and the first Forever Shoegaze compilation – have described the band’s sound as “sparkly shoegaze pop”, and that’s the sort of vibe of the first couple tracks of Aspect.  “A Thousand Days” and “Talking Eggs” could probably be considered their most identifiable songs to this point.  The former evolves into a really thickly textured, dreamy track and the latter a pop song that could easily be mistaken for a My Dead Girlfriend song.  At this point in the album things are still very light, relying on some really nice vocal melodies (especially in “A Thousand Days”, which really is a good song) and subtle guitar noise, but seemingly stopping just short of really letting it all out.  

Cattle have set the precedent for the pop-heavy indie shoegaze bands really stepping things up noise-wise once they get into a proper studio.  Though Seventeen Years Old and Berlin Wall never quite reach that blistering intensity, they do a pretty good job of belting it out on “27:00” and “June”.  My two favorite songs on the album step things up in the volume department wrapping bending guitars around the poppy leads and vocal melodies that define the band’s sound.  The tracks flank “Lilac”, a tune that is probably my least favorite on the album, if only because its placement really stunts the intensity of the album at that point.  Overall though, I was really impressed with the new stuff from Seventeen Years Old and Berlin Wall.  I would say I love half of it, and really like a couple more songs.  Seeing bands starting to focus on and gathering resources in order to start getting more solid recordings together is a huge for a scene that is full of untapped potential, but covered by a shroud of a bad demos and live recordings.

You can purchase Aspect on iTunes.  Physical copies can be ordered from the following shops:

Here is the video for the final track on Aspect, titled 終日 (“All Day Long”).

Cruyff in the Bedroom – “Laurelei”

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.  

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.  

Cattle – “Somehow Hear Songs”

One of the biggest knocks on the current crop of up-and-coming shoegaze bands in Japan is a lack of the “loudness” that is requisite to the genre.  A lot of bands are tending toward the indie-pop side of things at the expense of balls-out explosive volume.  To be fair, I really do like this current generation of Japanese shoegaze bands, and they do the jangly pop thing really well, but personally I prefer my pop music drowned mercilessly in reverb and noise.  Upstart shoegaze outfit Cattle have found that perfect balance between playful cuteness and relentless tonal aggression and the result is a very solid debut EP.

 Cattle (L to R):  Naoya Hinuma, Saori, Nomeko, Shuta Kokubun (photo from Facebook)
Cattle (L to R):  Naoya Hinuma, Saori, Nomeko, Shuta Kokubun (photo from Facebook)

One of the biggest knocks on the current crop of up-and-coming shoegaze bands in Japan is a lack of the “loudness” that is requisite to the genre.  A lot of bands are tending toward the indie-pop side of things at the expense of balls-out explosive volume.  To be fair, I really do like this current generation of Japanese shoegaze bands, and they do the jangly pop thing really well, but personally I prefer my pop music drowned mercilessly in reverb and noise.  Upstart shoegaze outfit Cattle have found that perfect balance between playful cuteness and relentless tonal aggression and the result is a very solid debut EP.

Technically Somehow Hear Songs, isn’t the first material the band has released – they put out a demo single and a split within a two month span last year – but neither really did justice to their live performance.  In fact, I really liked the demos until I saw them play live and actually realized what the band was capable of.  I wasn’t the only one apparently, as shortly thereafter it was announced that they would release their first proper EP and that it would be produced by none other than Makoto Gomi.  Not a bad guy to have overseeing a recording process, having plied his trade with the likes of Zeppet Store and Sphere among others.  His own experience with beautifully loud music and Cattle’s potential to create some of their own made for a pretty good pairing in the studio.

Somehow Hear Songs wastes no time getting to the point, as the intro and partial-title-track “Somehow Hear” starts off straight away with the sugary sweet vocal melodies of singer/keyboardist Saori and the blistering guitar attack from word go.  The guitar noise never actually ends, though you really feel the intensity during the extremely catchy choruses throughout.  The male and female twin vocals that are so very much a staple of Japanese shoegaze are there, though rather than running alongside each other, Saori’s vocals feature more prominently in the mix, while those of male counterpart Naoya Hinuma are a bit washed out and distant.  Effective balance is a big part of what makes this EP unique in the current landscape of Japanese shoegaze.

You can grab a physical copy of Somehow Hear Songs on July 8th, though for the time being Jigsaw Records has released it digitally on Bandcamp.  The CD is currently available for pre-order in Japan via most major music retailers and sites.  For folks in the US you can pre-order straight from Jigsaw Records.  

Here’s a preview of the EP.  Give the band a follow on Facebook and Twitter and visit their homepage here:  http://cattle-jp.wix.com/cattle

[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:

[China] The White Tulips – “Fondle”

Just over a month after the release of their first studio EP, Xiamen, China’s The White Tulips have put out their debut full-length album titled “Fondle”.  The group released a collection of rehearsal space demo tracks titled “Wrapped in the Waves” last year, but, citing a lack of musical resources in Xiamen, were unable to get into a proper studio until recently.  Veterans of the East Asia Shoegaze Festival, The White Tulips have been working fast to get their jangly brand of shoegaze recorded and out there for your enjoyment.  It’s currently available for $6.80 USD on the band’s Bandcamp page.

Just over a month after the release of their first studio EP, Xiamen, China’s The White Tulips have put out their debut full-length album titled “Fondle”.  The group released a collection of rehearsal space demo tracks titled “Wrapped in the Waves” last year, but, citing a lack of musical resources in Xiamen, were unable to get into a proper studio until recently.  Veterans of the East Asia Shoegaze Festival, The White Tulips have been working fast to get their jangly brand of shoegaze recorded and out there for your enjoyment.  It’s currently available for $6.80 USD on the band’s Bandcamp page.