Asia Roundup: Three New Releases From Boring Productions

Shenzhen, China-based indie label Boring Productions just put out a trio of physical releases, including a vinyl version of the stellar debut full-length, Phantasms, from Manila dreamy indie pop outfit The Strange Creatures.  The   record was three years in the making, during which the band welcomed in vocalist Megumi Acorda (whose brilliant solo work you can find here) and ran into some other obstacles.  But the album is finished and it’s here to be heard in all its jangly dream pop glory.

The other releases include a pair of 7″ versions of previously released material out of Indonesia.  The first is three tracks of hazy synth-laden dream pop from Depok-based duo The Sweetest Touch titled Too Many Dust, Too Many Haze.  The Sweetest Touch keeps it short and super sweet on the EP, crafting simple but catchy reverb-soaked electronic pop tunes.

Odd Gesture‘s debut EP Odd Fucking Gesture EP, which was originally released this past February, got a much welcome physical release as well.  The twee-punk effort is a harsh-but-catchy throwback to early MBV, tonally abrasive and well textured.  There’s even a playful diss track directed at Indonesian indie pop mainstay Sharesprings.

It’s worth taking a dive into the rest of the Boring Productions catalog, which is loaded with tons of shoegaze and bedroom pop gems from all over the place.

Introducing Osaka Netlabel Thru The Flowers

One of the big stories last year was the emergence of kiiro records, a Tokyo-based netlabel that put out a TON of releases including three shoegaze comps that grabbed a lot of Internet attention.  This wasn’t a brand new concept by any means, but it was new to the Japanese shoegaze scene, helping expose some of the country’s local talent to an international audience.  Furthermore all of the label’s releases are available for free download, which has pretty much welcomed a foreign audience with open arms while encouraging a curious national listener base to hop aboard the shoegaze wagon.

One of the big stories last year was the emergence of kiiro records, a Tokyo-based netlabel that put out a TON of releases including three shoegaze comps that grabbed a lot of Internet attention.  This wasn’t a brand new concept by any means, but it was new to the Japanese shoegaze scene, helping expose some of the country’s local talent to an international audience.  Furthermore all of the label’s releases are available for free download, which has pretty much welcomed a foreign audience with open arms while encouraging a curious national listener base to hop aboard the shoegaze wagon.

Osaka’s answer to kiiro records is the newly formed Thru The Flowers, which was founded by a man simply known as Bobby from  Boyfriend’s Dead.  Bobby also runs an event of the same name that often showcases some of Osaka’s local shoegaze talent.  Though he has a reputation throughout Japan, the Thru The Flowers label appears to be Kansai-centric, and with Tokyo hogging the majority of the Japanese shoegaze scene this is a breath of fresh air.  

The label formed earlier this year and it’s maiden release was, not surprisingly, Boyfriend’s Dead’s self-titeld EP in mid-March.  In the two months since, Thru The Flowers has put out Honey Mustard Sauce’s ultra-cute shoegaze EP FREEZER (one of my personal favorites of the year so far), and the first recorded material from Dinosaur Party – a two-track EP called ベランダ/風車 (Veranda/fu-sha).  

Though Osaka is home to High Fader Records and does share the annual Japan Shoegazer Festival with Tokyo (and occasionally a third city), the shoegaze scene hasn’t progressed much over the years.  Free releases are great, but Thru The Flowers’ real task will be establishing a strong community of shoegaze artists in Osaka that can be at the core of a scene that will continue to grow.  There’s so much more good music outside of Tokyo, and labels like this one can really help get it out there.

To download Thru The Flowers’ releases and keep an eye out for future releases check out the label’s Bandcamp page:  https://thrutheflowers.bandcamp.com/

Revolution – The Shoegaze Revival Compilation

Talk of a shoegaze “revival” tends to rub some folks the wrong way.  “Shoegaze never really went away” is what purists will say, while others cite the long-awaited release of My Bloody Valentine’s M B V in 2013 as the moment that the shoegaze ball got rolling at a steady pace again.  It’s a topic of debate, but whatever the case may be, one undeniable fact is that shoegaze is a thing and a lot of people are doing it really well all over the world.  To showcase that very fact, on February 11th North Wales-based indie label Ear to Ear Records in collaboration with Indonesia’s Gerpfast Kolektif will release Revolution – The Shoegaze Revival, a global compilation album including tracks from a whopping 30 shoegaze bands from 16 different countries.

Talk of a shoegaze “revival” tends to rub some folks the wrong way.  “Shoegaze never really went away” is what purists will say, while others cite the long-awaited release of My Bloody Valentine’s M B V in 2013 as the moment that the shoegaze ball got rolling at a steady pace again.  It’s a topic of debate, but whatever the case may be, one undeniable fact is that shoegaze is a thing and a lot of people are doing it really well all over the world.  To showcase that very fact, on February 11th North Wales-based indie label Ear to Ear Records in collaboration with Indonesia’s Gerpfast Kolektif will release Revolution – The Shoegaze Revival, a global compilation album including tracks from a whopping 30 shoegaze bands from 16 different countries.

The mammoth comp features some of the best bands the shoegaze world has to offer – including Japan’s very own Spool, Ether Feels, and Magao – and will be available for FREE DOWNLOAD via Ear to Ear’s Bandcamp page.  To whet your appetite until the actual release day, 15 tracks are currently available for a listen at said page.  Two hours of brilliant tunes in the form of one release await you in February and if you are a fan of the genre, new or old, you should probably start getting excited.

Here is a full list of the bands that will be taking part:

shoegazecomp2

Also there’s this neat teaser video put together by DKFM’s Greg Wilson:

[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.

[Japan] EUPHRATES

EUPHRATES
The 2014 Japan Shoegazer Festival kicks off in less than a week with the first event taking place in Osaka on September 7th.  Between the two shows – the latter on the 27th in Tokyo – the bill is loaded with well-known artists in Japan’s shoegaze scene:  Zeppet Store, cruyff in the bedroom, The Florist, cigarette in your bed, Plastic Girl in Closet, and of course Lemon’s Chair among others.  Though the most impressive lineup in the event’s history will attract attention thanks in large part to these names, the bill sports some perhaps lesser known talent that is well worth watching.

EUPHRATES is one such band, though Japan Shoegazer Festival devotees will certainly know the name.  The Osaka-based four piece and member of Japanese shoegaze label High Fader Records frequents the middle of the festival’s lineups and remains quite active within its local music scene, planning and performing at events like “EUPHRATES Presents High Fader NIGHT”.

Since forming in 2012, what name they may have made for themselves to date has been crafted with dreamy vocal melodies and explosive, at times danceable choruses.  “Come With Me” is the ultra-catchy fan favorite at gigs, drawing the largest applauses and eliciting about as much movement as you’ll see at the Japan Shoegazer Festival.  Having seen the growth of cigarette in your bed, another High Fader product, this year, it would seem that EUPHRATES are near the front of the line to emerge in the near future.  To date they have no proper released material, but perhaps their two most recognizable songs can both be heard on the band’s Soundcloud page.

Fore more info on a band that’s definitely worth keeping an eye on, follow EUPHRATES on Twitter.  Have a listen to their songs “Come With Me” and “Stargazer” below:

[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.

 

Kiiro Records’ New Compilation “FOREVER SHOEGAZE”


Japanese net-label Kiiro Records has released a new compilation titled FOREVER SHOEGAZE.  The label, which has released a lot of great comps in the first half-year or so of its existence usually focuses on “listenable pop music”, but this time around (as the title would entail) it is all shoegaze.  The comp features 11 Japanese bands and 4 foreign artists.

As with all of Kiiro Records’ releases, FOREVER SHOEGAZE is 100% free to download via their Bandcamp site.  It’s been a highly anticipated release and the allotted free downloads have gone quite quickly, so if you see the “700 yen” tag, don’t panic.  Just scroll to the bottom of the Bandcamp page and click on the mirror to the free download.

While you’re at it check out some of the other releases they have thrown together.

http://kiirorecords.bandcamp.com/album/forever-shoegaze

Interview: High Fader Records and Lemon’s Chair’s Masashi Imanishi (English ver.)

Lemon's Chair - コピー
2013 has begun in a wonderful way for shoegaze fans in Japan.  We all owe this to the efforts of a large group of people who have helped to put together some spectacular events.  One of the people largely responsible is Masashi Imanishi, the man in charge of High Fader Records and one-third of Japan shoegaze mainstays Lemon’s Chair.  Despite his hectic schedule organizing and performing at the 2013 edition of Japan Shoegazer Festival, as well as keeping up with all the My Bloody Valentine festivities, Mr. Imanishi was kind enough to take some time and give us an interview.

While Masashi Imanishi is extremely humble and thankful to everyone who supports shoegaze music in Japan, he refuses to take any credit for the events that he contributes so greatly to.  One thing is very clear after speaking with him:  he does everything purely out of his own passion for shoegaze music and his desire to bring joy to shoegazers throughout Japan.  A very special thanks to Mr. Imanishi, whose work I personally adore, and whose time (and patience) has been much appreciated.

MusoJapan: First of all, what is attractive about shoegaze music? Why do you want to be involved in this particular genre?

Masashi Imanishi: As far as the aesthetic image or view of shoegaze, I believe it is something beautiful through which you can feel hope. I personally feel that the sound summarizes Japanese emotional and virtous things.

MJ: When did High Fader records begin? What were your goals at the beginning?

MI: High Fader was started in May of 2009. The goal was to make people aware of the music that I was personally into.

MJ: How many bands are currently on the label?

MI: Currently the label consists of sugardrop, boyfriend’s dead, and Lemon’s Chair.

MJ: What services does High Fader offer to bands?

MI: We help with live booking and CD releases, while also putting an emphasis on communication and conducting business with a sense of moral values.

MJ: The Shoegazer Festival is a great way to showcase the shoegaze scene in Japan. How
many years has the show been running and how has it developed over the years?

MI: 2013 is the third year of Japan Shoegazer Festival. Since the beginning, the amount of young people coming to the event has been increasing.

MJ: Are there any plans for future Shoegazer Fests? Do you plan on having events outside
of Tokyo and Osaka?

MI: The Shoegazer Festival involves much more than just my effort. The support of the people who come to the event as well as the labels, record companies, and artists involved is huge. As long as they continue to be involved I want to keep it going.

Since spreading shoegaze to more and more listeners is the key to the revitalization and growth of the genre, I have been considering holding the event in other cities outside of Tokyo and Osaka.

MJ: Do you have any plans to work with foreign artists or involve them in future events?

MI: As long as the timing was good, yes

MJ: In addition to organizing events and running a label, you are also involved you’re your band Lemon’s Chair. When did the band form and what is the current lineup? How would you describe your sound to people who may not be familiar with your work?

MI: Lemon’s Chair was formed in 2002. We are a three-piece consisting of me on guitar, Yuko on guitar, and Kondo on drums. Lemon’s Chair is instrumental guitar music in which the sound builds up and is brought together using minimalist sounds and tools.

MJ: Lemon’s Chair and Tokyo Shoegazer recently worked together on the split single “Japan. Shoegazer as Only One”. Looking at the title, do you see this as an essential album for fans who want a quick taste of the Japanese shoegaze scene?

MI: It’s just something that we personally thought was pretty cool, but the truth is it isn’t something we consider to be “essential”.

MJ: The tribute album and this year’s Shoegazer Festival coincide with the highly
anticipated My Bloody Valentine Japan tour. As evidenced by the expansion of the tour
from three to five shows there is clearly a substantial amount of interest in the shoegaze
genre. As someone who works within the genre, what is your opinion of the shoegaze
scene in Japan?

MI: I feel like the interest in shoegaze music in Japan is on the rise, but it’s something I attribute to a lot of different people: record companies, event planners, media members, record stores, music writers. It is the result of a combined effort, and so I can’t really give one representative opinion on the entire shoegaze scene

MJ: 2013 has started off in an exciting way for shoegaze fans in Japan. With the MBV tour, two Shoegazer Festivals, “Japan Shoegazer as Only One” and the tribute album starting off the new year, fans have had a lot to look forward to. What is your message to fans this year?

MI: First of all, I really want to thank all of the people who purchased “Japan Shoegazer as Only One” and “Yellow Loveless”, as well as those who have read this interview. While some things may not always work out well, I am always thinking about the enjoyment of others, which is something I hope everyone will keep in mind.

I believe that many of the people who are into shoegaze are sensitive people with good hearts. However, in life, this can also be a disadvantage. I want shoegaze fans to be proud of themselves and not get too down. “When you look down you see your feet. But be assured, those feet are standing firmly on the ground. Keep your head up!”

Japan Shoegazer Festival ’12 Announced

The weather is going to start warming up over the next couple of months and in preparation for the summer all of the major music festivals both in Japan and worldwide are getting ready to make their big lineup announcements.  FujiRock got things rolling early by unleashing some musical big-guns and Summer Sonic recently announced an underwhelming, but nevertheless big-name lineup for their 2012 festival.
One festival that certainly won’t match the star power of the aforementioned music festivals, but surely will provide exceptional quality, is the just-announced Japan Shoegazer Festival 2012.  The show is being organized by Japanese shoegaze label High Fader Records in conjunction with various other labels throughout the country and will feature some of the best artists and DJs in Japan.

Japan Shoegazer Festival will be a two-night event, being played at Koenji HIGH in Tokyo on 4/21 and at club vijon in Osaka on 4/28.  The Osaka event will be followed by “Electric Fuzz”, an after-party headed by Tokyo’s DJ Manabu and High Fader Records’ own Masashi Imanishi.

One note on the High Fader/Lemon’s Chair blog is that these shows will branch out and feature some non-shoegaze bands as well.  Looking at the lineup though it should definitely be something to look forward to.  There are also expected to be some changes and new announcements in the coming weeks so I will do my best to keep them coming.

Entry to the Tokyo show will be 3,000yen in advance or 3,500yen at the door.  For the Osaka show it will be 2,500/3,000.  The Tokyo event will start at noon and the Osaka event at 2pm.

For more information on specific bands check out Lemon’s Chair’s event blog.  If you scroll to the bottom of the page there will be links to music or videos for each of the bands on the bill.  Otherwise for non-Japanese speakers follow Muso Japan on twitter (@musojapan) or Masashi Imanishi’s Japanese twitter (@HIGH_FADER) for more information as it’s released.

The lineups for Japan Shoegazer Festival 2012 are as follows

Japan Shoegazer Festival 2012 – Tokyo – Koenji HIGH (4/21)

Lemon’s Chair(Osaka) (featuring Masashi Imanishi of High Fader Records)
Aureole
Bertoia
clione-index(Osaka)
dario
inner bug
kanina
moskitoo
PLASTIC GIRL IN CLOSET
PLASTICZOOMS
The 2nd colony
shelling
死んだ僕の彼女 (My Dead Girlfriend)
少女スキップ (Shojo Skip)
sugardrop
Tokyo Shoegazer (members from Plastic Tree, Kara, Acid Android, etc)

DJs
manabu(ELECTRIC FUZZ!!)
AOKI(My Bloody Valentine NIGHT)
hisao(Daydream Wonder)
黒田隆憲[シューゲイザーディスクガイド]
mitsuko strange[Oeil] (friend of Muso Japan!)
NORIKA[My Bloody Valentine NIGHT]

Japan Shoegazer Festival 2012 – Osaka – club vijon (4/28)

Lemon’s Chair
kanina(Tokyo)
speaker gain teardrop(Hiroshima)
Flower Triangle(Hiroshima)
boyfriend’s dead
PURPLE(Kyoto)
kuramitsuha
clione-index
RESTALONE
EUPHRATES
Shetland Sheepdog

DJs
manabu(ELECTRIC FUZZ!!)
AOKI(My Bloody Valentine NIGHT)(Tokyo)
NORIKA(My Bloody Valentine NIGHT)(Tokyo)
MORIKAWA(Fastcut Records)
gonzaresu[daphne.](Gifu)
maiko shee(High Fader RECORDS)

abcdefg*record: promoting independent art

abcdefg*record is a Nagoya-based independent label.  Formed in 1998 by Nomura Masahiro and Hashimoto Sayuri, abcdefg*record offers its artists very unique and dynamic handmade-style packaging for distribution.  Though a self-proclaimed “indie-pop” label, the company covers a wide variety of musical styles including, but not limited to, rock, piko piko, shibuya-kei, post-rock, and shoegaze.  With a solid roster of artists including “naivepop or petitfool” and co-founder Hashimoto Sayuri’s own “miette-one” abcdefg*record offers a very cool and creative brand of indie music wrapped in attractive handmade packages.
In addition to distributing for independent artists, abcdefg’s founders use their label to promote their other artistic endeavors.  The co-founders are not only involved in their own music projects, they also promote a free digital zine titled P+M Magazine.  P+M is a bilingual (English and Japanese) written publication devoted to music and photography.  Issues are available for free download at the zine site (http://onimaga.com) and each features various musical artists and photographers.  Definitely worth checking out.

abcdefg*record is not only a very cool example of an independent label, but as an outlet for independent art in general.  For more information visit http://abcdefg-record.net and do some exploring.  It will definitely be worth your while!