A Guide to Daydream pt. 2 – Kyoto Day 2

This time I’ll be looking at Daydream Kyoto Day 2, which will take place at Nijo Nano.  Follow the links below for event info and ticket reservations.

Over the last few years, Kyoto Shoegazer has emerged as the biggest showcase of the local shoegaze scene in Japan.  This year the Kyoto Shoegazer team has put together Daydream, a four day festival spanning three cities that will kick off in December.  The event will host some of the finest shoegaze, dream pop, alt rock, etc. that Japan has to offer.  I will be previewing each of the events as they come.  This time I’ll be looking at Daydream Kyoto Day 2, which will take place at Nijo Nano.  Follow the links below for event info and ticket reservations.

ここ数年京都シューゲイザーは日本のシューゲイザーを特集する一番大きなイベントになってきている。今年、12月から4日程3都市でイベントDAYDREAMを行う。このイベントに日本の高品質のシューゲイザー、ドリームポップ、オルタナのバンドが出演する。Muso Japanは各イベントをプレビューする。今回は12月4日二条NANOにて行われるDAYDREAM KYOTOのDay2!チケット予約は以下のリンクから!

Home Page/イベントホームページ

Ticket Reservation/チケット予約


Honeydew

Honeydew is a Tokyo-based alt rock power trio.  Originally formed in New York, the band’s sound is influenced by a number of 90s American alternative bands, and versatile enough to appeal to a wide range of fans.  Their live performances are ultra-tight, and their high-energy performances are absolutely must see.

Honeydewは、東京を拠点に活動するオルタナティブロックトリオ。元々ニューヨークで結成された彼らのサウンドは、90年代に活躍したアメリカのオルタナティブバンドより影響を受け、その多様性から幅広くファンを獲得している。タイトでエネルギッシュなパフォーマンスは必見だ。


me in grasshopper

With members based between the Kansai and Tokai regions of Japan, it’s only fitting that me in grasshopper will be performing at Daydream events in both Kyoto and Nagoya.  Over the past few years the band has become one of the flag bearers for the Nagoya shoegaze scene on the strength of their sweet melodies and subtle yet persistent guitar noise.  Their 2015 “NEW SATURDAY e.p.” was one of the best of the year.  In 2016 the band supported YUCK on their Japan tour, and they will be supporting Brooklyn’s Lazyeyes in Nagoya in January.

メンバーが関西・東海地方出身のme in grasshopperは、DAYDREAM KYOTO・NAGOYAの両日に出演する。美しいメロディーと緻密且つ鳴り響くギターノイズにより、この数年で名古屋シューゲイズシーンを代表する存在となった。2015年にリリースされた“NEW SATURDAY e.p.”は、その年の最高傑作の一つ。2016年、YUCKの日本ツアーをサポートし、来年1月にはブルックリン出身Lazyeyesの名古屋公演をサポートする予定。


Yuragi

Hailing from Shiga prefecture, Yuragi is yet another young, exciting band to emerge from the Kansai-region over the last couple years.  Their sweet but strong sound incorporates whispy vocals and big wall of sound guitars driven by uptempo pop beats.  2016 has been a big year for the band with the release of their “bedside” single and the announcement of their upcoming “nightlife e.p.”, which will be out on 12/27.  They’ve also announced they will be supporting Lazyeyes on the New Yorkers’ Japan tour.  

滋賀出身の「揺らぎ」は、ここ数年関西地方から現れた、とても若いエキサイティングなバンド。ウィスパーボイスとアップテンポでポップなビートに乗せられたギターサウンドとが合わさる、美しく力強いウォール・オブ・サウンド。シングル“bedside”のリリース、“nightlife e.p.”(12/27リリース予定)の発表と、2016年は重要な年となった。またニューヨーク出身のLazyeyesの日本ツアーでサポートすることも決定している。


Acidclank

Acidclank is another one of those exciting young Kansai bands.  The Osaka indie rock outfit put out a really impressive album titled nner in 2015, on which they demonstrated their ability to create a range of sounds from shoegaze to psych at a consistently high level.  Once a home recording project, Acidclank is now a fully functioning live band that has been gigging a ton over the last year or so.  These guys have a bright future ahead of them.  

Acidclankは、関西の注目すべき若いバンドのひとつ。大阪のインディーロックバンドであるる彼らは、2015年にアルバムInnerを引っ提げ、シューゲイズからサイケまで幅広いサウンドを、ハイレベルな領域で制作できることを証明した。ホームレコーディングプロジェクトに始まったAcidclankは、今や数々のギグ経験を積んだライブバンド。彼らの輝く未来が楽しみだ。


ether feels

There are few active shoegaze bands in Japan that have put out as much consistently good material as Ether Feels.  Their melancholy blend of pop and shoegaze has resulted in a sound that is all their own, and their quality has earned them a good amount of attention outside of their home country.  Their Daydream performances will wrap up a busy year that’s included gigs around Asia, the release of a greatest hits album titled hen The First Time We Met and an upcoming split EP with Yukino Chaos.  

日本でEther Feelsほど、コンスタントに良い楽曲をシーンに提供してきたバンドはそういないだろう。彼ら独自のポップとシューゲイズのメランコリーな配合は、日本国外でも注目を集めてきた。DAYDREAMでのパフォーマンスは、アジア各地でのライブ、ベストオブアルバムhen The First Time We Metのリリース、Yukino ChaosとスプリットEPの共同リリース、と忙しい年の有終の美を飾るだろう。


twelve fluffy chair

Local band Twelve Fluffy Chair offers a sparkly brand of shoegaze pop.  The Kyoto foursome recently released their second EP B A R, which features some cute guitar-driven pop tracks.  Their strength lies in their ability to write ultra catchy choruses and melodic hooks, as well as adding a little edge to otherwise light, playful songs.  

京都の地元バンドTwelve Fluffy Chairの特徴は、キラッキラのシューゲイズポップ感。ギターが効いているポップなセカンドEP B A Rを、最近リリースした4人組バンド。とてもキャッチーなコーラスとメロディアスなフック、そして軽快で遊び心のある曲にエッジを与える才能が彼らの強み。


boyfriend’s dead

Boyfriend’s Dead is a Kansai-area shoegaze veteran and a band that adds an element of fun to any gig they play.  Their sound is an upbeat, danceable blend of shoegaze and pop, and their energy and stage presence makes for a great live show.  The band’s most recent release came in the form of a self-titled EP released on local Osaka-based netlabel Thru The Flowers.  

Boyfriend’s Deadは、関西のシューゲイザーのベテランで、彼らが出演するギグはいつも楽しさ与えてくれる。アップビートで踊りたくなるようなシューゲイザーポップ、そして強いエナジーとステージでの存在感が素晴らしいライブ演奏を作り出す。最新作は、大阪のネットレーベルThru The FlowersからリリースされたセルフタイトルEP。


A Guide to Daydream pt. 1 – Kyoto Day 1

Over the last few years, Kyoto Shoegazer has emerged as the biggest showcase of the local shoegaze scene in Japan.  This year the Kyoto Shoegazer team has put together Daydream, a four day festival spanning three cities that will kick off in December.  The event will host some of the finest shoegaze, dream pop, alt rock, etc. that Japan has to offer.

Over the last few years, Kyoto Shoegazer has emerged as the biggest showcase of the local shoegaze scene in Japan.  This year the Kyoto Shoegazer team has put together Daydream, a four day festival spanning three cities that will kick off in December.  The event will host some of the finest shoegaze, dream pop, alt rock, etc. that Japan has to offer.  I will be previewing each of the events as they come.  First up is day one of Daydream Kyoto, taking place on December 3rd at Nijo Nano.  Click the link below for ticket reservation.

ここ数年京都シューゲイザーは日本のシューゲイザーを特集する一番大きなイベントになってきている。今年、12月から4日程3都市でイベントDAYDREAMを行う。このイベントに日本の高品質のシューゲイザー、ドリームポップ、オルタナのバンドが出演する(あと、香港からのゲストも出る予定!)。Muso Japanは各イベントをプレビューする。最初は12月3日二条NANOにて行われるDAYDREAM KYOTOである!チケット予約は以下のリンクから。

Home Page/イベントホームページ

Ticket Reservation/チケット予約

colm

Colm is sort of a Kyoto Shoegazer supergroup, consisting of members of Ether Feels, Kailios, shelives, and AOQ.  The band is relatively new, and Daydream Kyoto will be their third gig since forming up earlier this year.  Though they haven’t made any music available to this point, Colm will be releasing their first recorded material at Daydream.

Ether Feels, Kailios, shelives, 青くのメンバーから成るバンドColmは京都シューゲイザーシーンのスーパーグループ。今年結成して、DAYDREAM KYOTOが3回目のライブ。このイベントで初めての音源リリースとなる。


yukino chaos

One of Japan’s brightest young acts, Yukino Chaos has come on strong over the last couple years with dynamic live performances and some really impressive recordings.  2016 saw the release of a new demo single “Hope For The Future” and a supporting slot at Tokyo’s Niman Den-Atsu alongside Melt Banana, Looprider, and Qujaku.  The band was also invited to Shanghai along with Broken Little Sister earlier this year.  They’ll be releasing a split EP with fellow Daydream performers Ether Feels in December.

日本の輝かしき若い才能のひとつYukino Chaosは、精力的なライブ演奏と印象的なレコーディングで近年目を離せない存在となっている。彼らの2016年は、デモシングル“Hope For The Future”のリリース、東京の二万電圧でのMelt Banana, Looprider そして Qujakuとの共演、Broken Little Sisterと共に上海へ招かれた年でもあった。12月には共にDAYDOREAMに出演するEther Feelsと制作したスプリットEPがリリース。


broken little sister

Making the trip to Kyoto from Yokohama is Japanese shoegaze mainstay Broken Little Sister.  Broken Little Sister has grabbed attention from shoegaze fans all over the world with their iconic “memories, violet & demon” LP as well as the Beatles cover album “Beatless” they released under the moniker Meeks.  Just this year the band has played in Taiwan and China.  Though seasoned veterans of the Japanese shoegaze scene, Daydream will mark the band’s first performance in Kyoto.

日本のシューゲイズシーンの重鎮 Broken Little Sisterが、横浜から京都へやってくる。彼らはLP“memories, violet & demon”、Meeks名義でリリースしたビートルズのカバーアルバム “Beatless”によってシューゲイズファンの注目を浴び、今年は台湾と中国でもパフォーマンスを行う。彼らは日本のシューゲーズシーンの経験豊かなベテランであるが、DAYDREAMが今回京都初のパフォーマンスとなる。


kailios

Local Kyoto-ites Kailios create simple but catchy music.  The band’s sound, which draws on 90s US alt rock and indie pop, is very upbeat and super easy to listen to.  Their feel-good style and energy translate to fun and entertaining live performances, which also happen to be really tight.  Kailios’ three-track “Cars” EP is highly recommended.

地元京都のKailiosは、シンプルでありながらキャッチーなバンドサウンドを作る。90年代のUSオルタナティブロック、インディーロックの影響が感じられるサウンドは、アップビートでとても聴きやすい。楽しく愉快でタイトなライブパフォーマンスは、心地よいスタイルとエネルギーが感じられるはず。3曲入りのEP “Cars”は必聴。


the seadays

Formed in July of last year, The Seadays is a four-piece alternative rock band from Kyoto.  Over the last year-plus, they’ve gigged in Tokyo and Kyoto and hosted their own event “Umi Rock Festival” this past July.  Whether they’re playing uptempo aggressive tunes or slow, melodic stuff, The Seadays’ sound is strong and explosive, making for high-energy, highly entertaining live performances.

昨年の7月に結成されたThe Seadaysは、京都出身の4ピースオルタナティブロックバンド。結成以来、東京と京都でギグを積み重ね、この7月には“Umi Rock Festival”を主催。アップテンポでアグレッシブなチューンや、ゆったりとしたメロディーの曲であっても、爆発的な力強いエネルギーを感じさせるそのパフォーマンスは、観客を魅了する。


shinda boku no ishikawa

My Dead Girlfriend frontman Yuki Ishikawa will be performing at Daydream Kyoto as his solo project My Dead Ishikawa.  He released his debut solo album “A Corpse in the Happy Valley”, earlier this year, and while there are some shades of MDG-esque shoegaze on the record, the new project explores a wide range of sounds from guitar pop to noise to grindcore and more.  As a performer, few can match the energy and flamboyance of Ishikawa on stage.

死んだ僕の彼女のフロントマンである”石川”は、今回ソロプロジェクト「死んだ僕の石川」として登場する。今年前半にソロデビューアルバム“A Corpse in the Happy Valley”をリリースし、「死んだ僕の彼女」色を含みつつもギターポップ、ノイズ、グラインドコアと幅広いサウンドを冒険している。石川のように、エネルギッシュで刺激的なライブパフォーマンスをする人物はなかなかいない。


sea of tranquility

Sea of Tranquility will be making the trip from Hong Kong to perform at Daydream Kyoto.  The band has been picking up steam recently thanks to their beautifully dense and dreamy brand of shoegaze, which has drawn comparisons to the likes of Slowdive and Cocteau Twins.  Earlier this year Sea of Tranquility played in Taiwan at Leave No Trace But Gaze, where they shared the stage with Daydream Kyoto day 2 performers Ether Feels.  This will be their first performance in Japan.

Sea of Tranquilityは、DAYDREAM KYOTOでのパフォーマンスのため、香港からやってきます。SlowdiveやCocteau Twinsと比較されるほど、美しく深くドリーミーな独自のシューゲーズサウンドで最近人気を集めています。今年台湾で行われた、Leave No Trace But Gazeでは DAYDREAM KYOTO  DAY2 に出演する Ether Feelsと同じステージに立った。本公演が、彼らの記念すべき日本初のパフォーマンスとなる。

[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:

Fall Shoegazer Fest Dates Announced, Including Nagoya

The Shoegazer Festival Extra hasn’t even wrapped up yet and High Fader Records’ Masashi Imanishi has confirmed three events in the fall.  With the Osaka leg of the extra event coming up this weekend, Imanishi announced via Twitter this evening that there will be a third Shoegazer Festival in 2013.  The big news is that the event will be coming to Nagoya for the first time.
The first two shows will be held on the final weekend of October, starting in Osaka on Saturday the 26th and heading to Nagoya on the 27th.  The third show will take place on a to-be-determined weekend in November.  According to Imanishi, the venues have mostly been determined, though they will be disclosed at a later date.  At this time bands and DJs for each date are being sorted.  More information is expected in the coming weeks.

For more information follow @HIGH_FADER and @MusoJapan on Twitter.

Interview: Next Music from Tokyo’s Steven Tanaka

Muso Japan exists as a means of exposing fans of Japanese music to bands that may be difficult for a foreign audience to access.  Japanese music is something that I, like many people, am passionate about.  Thanks to the internet and social media, there are a growing number of resources through which a curious mind can find the hidden treasures of the Japanese music scene.  Typing words and posting them online is a valuable way to get the word out about the things we love, but it only brings the reader so far.  It requires special efforts to bring the experience directly to an audience and allow them to witness first-hand the things about which we share a passion.  One man has figured out a way to get this done.
Steven Tanaka is the founder of Canada’s “Next Music from Tokyo” tour.  He is so passionate about Japanese music that he, almost singlehandedly, brings bands from Japan to Canada to showcase their talents for an audience which seeks access to Japanese music. Traveling to Japan at every opportunity to go to shows and find bands, Steven is a man who takes his love for the music scene to the next level.  Not only does his event bring quality Japanese music to an excited audience, it provides Japanese musicians with the opportunity to perform overseas.

Next week brings the fifth installment of NMFT, in which bands will perform four shows in three cities (Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver).  This year’s lineup boasts four excellent bands:  Mouse on the Keys, Chi-na, Hara from Hell, and, one of my absolute favorites, Kinoko Teikoku.  Steven was kind enough to take time out of his extremely busy schedule to answer some questions for Muso Japan.  It was an excellent opportunity to get insight from a guy who does what many people (myself included) wish they could do.  A very big thanks to Steven Tanaka for not only granting the interview, but also for all of his efforts in organizing Next Music From Tokyo.

(for more information on the tour please visit http://www.nextmusicfromtokyo.com/ or follow the tour’s twitter account @NextMusicTokyo.  Cover photo used from NMFT’s site.)

Here is a promo video for this year’s NMFT.  Enjoy!

Interview with Next Music from Tokyo’s Steven Tanaka

1. Why did you decide to start Next Music From Tokyo? How did you grow so fond of Japanese music to the extent that you were willing to start a non-profit, out of pocket operation to bring bands from Japan to Canada?

Music has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. And Tokyo has the largest and most progressive music scene in the world. For me nothing is more fun than travelling to Tokyo and watching my favorite bands play at tiny live houses and discovering new amazing bands along the way.
I wanted other Canadians to discover how breathtaking and fresh Tokyo’s live music scene is. Since most of the Japanese bands I feel are the best can’t afford to travel to Canada on their own I decided to pay out of pocket and fly the bands here myself.
Even if tickets to the shows sell out completely I’m still guaranteed to lose an insane amount of money due to travel costs alone. Planning these tours is extremely time-consuming, stressful and expensive but it has been one of the most enjoyable, memorable and rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life. The amount of fun I have doing these tours is worth more than all the money in the world.

2. What is the band selection process for each event like?  How do you go about finding these bands and then narrowing down the list to the final few?  Are there specifics that you look for when choosing bands to take part in NMFT?

I travel to Japan 5-8 times a year and see 1-3 shows almost every night I’m there.  So I go to more shows than a lot of music fans who actually live in Japan. (lol)   Before each trip I research into which shows I want to go to and discover a lot of new bands via Youtube, Myspace etc.  But videos and studio recordings are often misleading and the only true way to measure a band is by watching them perform live.

From the hundreds of shows I’ve been to I pick the bands that blew me away the most with their live performance.  Unfortunately, even with the offer of a free expenses-paid tour many bands I’d like to bring to Canada can’t come because of work, family, or other conflicts.  Sometimes bands have crazy demands in addition to me paying for everything; in which case I usually tell them to f*ck off.

For each tour I usually pick one “headlining” band that may draw fans in Canada who are already knowledgeable about Japanese indie music.  For example andymori (vol 1), Mass of the Fermenting Dregs (vol 2), NATSUMEN (vol 3) and ZAZEN BOYS (vol 4).   However, in Canada the Japanese bands are all on a level playing field and the lesser known acts frequently upstage the “headlining” act during shows.

In terms of narrowing the list I choose a “headliner” and an unmistakably great band that most people are sure to like as the core and then add two or three more great bands with a much different style/genre to inject variety to the line-up.  Last year, ZAZEN was the “headliner,” group_inou was the sure-shot and Charan-Po-Rantan and Praha Depart were the dark-horses that some fans liked even more.

However, I don’t always follow this formula.  But in order for a band to be considered for NMFT I have to love their music and more importantly then have to put on a great live show.

3.  From the time you select the bands, what all goes into getting them to Canada and making sure the shows go off problem-free?  How do you cater to bands who may have never toured overseas (language barrier issues, etc.)?

After the bands are selected I normally have a group meeting in Japan with representatives from all the bands to describe the tour and explain what I need done on their end.  Contracts need to be signed and I need CDs, photos, bios/EPK’s in order to promote the tour in Canada.

Back home I need to book venues at least 4 months in advance, book and pay for flights (NMFT vol 3 had 26 passengers; $1700/passenger), hotel rooms, and backline (drums, amps, special instruments).  The biggest headache used to be the mountain of paperwork and red tape involved with obtaining visas/work permits for the bands.  However, I found out last year I could book specific venues that don’t require visas and now I only book venues that are work permit exempt.  Score!

At the start I had to organize almost every aspect of the tour myself but with each tour more and more people have pitched into to help.   My friends Rob and Ryotaro have created fantastic promo videos.  Local bands have lent me gear to help save on backline and instruments.  Friends and fans have designed posters for me and helped distribute them in each city of the tour.  During the first tour my friend Nicolas came all the way from France to help me look after the bands.  And for volume 3, my friend Dan came all the way from Cali to help babysit the bands and he even helped pay for hotel rooms and car rentals.  My right hand man though is a guy named Geoff who has been absolutely phenomenal and indispensible in terms of promoting the tour, getting the media’s attention and securing interviews, articles and reviews.   I owe a huge amount of thanks to Geoff and any friends and fans who have volunteered their time to help me with the tour.

The vast majority of bands have never toured overseas prior to NMFT.  In fact, for many band members it’s their first time visiting a foreign country and they don’t yet have passports.  So most of the bands are in the same boat in terms of language barrier and culture shock but as soon as they hit the stage it’s second nature and they always manage to rock the crowd some how.

4.  The tour is called “Next Music From Tokyo” but have you considered looking to other cities with substantial and unique music scenes like Osaka, Nagoya, etc.?

Hyacca are from Fukuoka and they toured with us during Volume 3.  In terms of signing contracts and having meetings, it’s a lot easier if all the bands reside in Tokyo but in the past I’ve invited many bands from other cities:  Viridian (Nagoya), tricot (Kyoto), Midori (Osaka) etc.

It’s unlikely that I’ll pick all four bands from a region outside Tokyo and do a eg Next Music from Osaka tour.  Although some of my favorite bands right now all come from Chiba:  Happy!Mari, goomi, Harafromhell and Shaku.  Though Chiba’s so close to Tokyo they’re basically part of the same scene.

5.  What has the reception to NMFT been like?  How has the tour evolved since it was started?  

The reception to NMFT has been excellent.  There may be a few people who are disappointed that I don’t bring “crazier” acts but my goal isn’t to shock the audience with the weird and bizarre but to express the level of talent and creativity inherent in Tokyo’s music scene.   Most people who come to the shows really appreciate the skill and stage presence of the bands and the eclectic mix of musical styles.

Since the first installment of the tour it’s become a lot easier to gain the interest of ‘bigger” Japanese bands and especially in Toronto, the tour is popular enough to graduate to a much larger venue.  But bigger isn’t always better and personally, I prefer watching gigs at smaller, more intimate venues.  I don’t think the concept of the tour and nature of the bands has changed much but having fans help out with organizing and promoting the tour has made my life a lot easier.   If I can bring the same level quality of bands and performances each year I’ll be happy.

6.  Do you have any plans or hopes for future installments of NMFT?  Have you begun looking ahead to volume 6 at all?

I definitely hope to continue the tour each year until I unexpectedly get sick of Japanese indie music. Hahaha.   I’m hoping to do volume 6 this October but it may have to be put on hold until May 2014.  I’d like to invite group_inou and Akai Koen again and Happy!Mari is a new new band that is sure to kick Canada’s ass.

 

Night Out in Nagoya: 4/20 – Crocodile Bambie CD Release Party @ Huck Finn

I recently moved to Nagoya (one reason for the lack of updates lately) and one of my goals once settled in was to take advantage of living in a city with a special music scene.  The first venue I had set my sights on was Huck Finn, a small basement live house a few blocks from Imaike Station, which hosts a who’s who of local artists.  Having gotten past the initial money-sink that is moving to a new city, I was ready to get a taste of the local music flavor.  After browsing a list of shows I noticed a band name that was hard to pass up.  Crocodile Bambie (a ‘cute name’ as stated by frontman Yoshihiro Yasui) just sounded awesome, and upon checking out a teaser for their upcoming EP, I decided to book the evening.  This was not an easy decision, as Kinoko Teikoku had a show at Club Rock n Roll the same evening, but I decided to dive into something new and different, and I wouldn’t regret my decision.
Crocodile Bambie, a band set to release their debut EP, may have, in name, been a relative unknown, but the band had already developed three decades worth of following.  Yasui, the singer and bass player of Bambie, was previously the bassist of long-time Nagoya thrash metal outfit Outrage.  It took a bit to get used to the change in atmosphere at the venue.  The snappily dressed and fashionably groomed twenty-somethings I’ve become accustomed to at events were replaced by long hair and leather jackets adorned with studs and Motorhead patches.  It was the sort of thing I had grown up with at concerts and I instantly felt right at home.

The show kicked off at about 6:30 with Osaka’s The Probes.  The best way I could describe this band was a fun and energetic reminder of why we all start bands at some point in our lives.  It was nothing complex, but simple, straightforward, aggressive rock music.  Lots of fun and a good start to the evening.

Next up was The Nibs.  Another band I knew nothing about coming in.  I didn’t love it at the start, with the opening song feeling like a medley full of tempo changes.  As the set went on, the songs turned into more down-tempo muddy tunes that had really nice grooves to them.  They finished strong and made me eager to hear some of their recorded songs.

Stone Edge was the third band of the evening and by the time their set came up Huck Finn was packed tight.  This show was a special event for them, being their first performance in 13 years.  I had heard them described as an all-girl rock band, which wasn’t entirely true as their guitarist was a guy, but the one thing I had heard that I can verify as true is that this band is excellent.  Their in-your-face and fun punk rock sound was a throwback to 90s Fat Wreck Chords-esque bands.  Despite it being extremely hot and crowded, the atmosphere was great throughout their set.

After Stone Edge wrapped up a decent amount of the audience seemed to have headed out. Up next was a band whose recordings I had become fond of whom I was eager to see live.  Eternal Elysium is another band receiving a good amount of local acclaim.  While their live performance was a lot of fun, it didn’t do their recordings justice in my opinion.  What I liked most is that the band had a great relationship with the audience.  It was a really intimate set and at one point the singer even addressed the (rather large) non-Japanese section of the audience in fluent English.  The crowd pleaded for an extended set, but Eternal Elysium reminded everyone at Huck Finn that this was Crocodile Bambie’s night.

Finally the moment we had all been waiting for.  After a fairly lengthy set-up, Crocodile Bambie took the stage.  They kicked off the show with “Freedom”, the track with which they promoted their debut EP.  While Yoshihiro Yasui had made his name with Outrage’s thrash style, his new band is more of a stoner rock outfit with grooving bass lines and droning heavily-delayed guitars.  The set was heavy, and despite a small tuning problem at the start, it was every bit as great as I had hoped for.  They weaved jam sessions and drum solos in and between songs, but not obnoxiously.  There was energy and aggression but it was controlled.  I am a big fan of Yasui’s new style and I hope that the 4 tracks on the EP will hold me over until the next batch of sounds is released.

Some blurry iPhone pictures to come!

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.

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)

blgtz Live DVD Release Officially Announced

As Muso Japan was told by blgtz singer Shota Tamura himself in an interview earlier this week the band is planning on releasing a Live DVD in the near future. The band confirmed this release at the final show of their “Douzi ni Kieru Ichinichi” release tour. According to Japanese music site skream.jp, at the conclusion of the February 5th show in Tokyo, flyers were handed out stating that the DVD will be released in the Spring. More updates to follow, but this is very exciting news for fans of blgtz!

Nagoya’s Huck Finn: 30 Years as an Indie-Rock Institution

Friday January 20, 2012 marks the 30th anniversary of Nagoya’s local indie live house Huck Finn.  Located in Nagoya’s Chikusa Ward, Huck Finn is an intimate venue known for hosting punk rock, metal, hardcore and indie-rock concerts.  It is one of Nagoya’s primary spots for catching some of Japan’s best indie artists.  A prime location for local up-and-comers as well, Huck Finn even states on its recruitment site that as long as bands have a drive to play they will host them, giving visitors to this cool little spot a taste of the Nagoya indie-rock scene.
To celebrate its milestone, Huck Finn held a 30th anniversary live featuring Sapporo-based indie-rock veterans, and one of Asano Tadanobu’s personal favorites, Bloodthirsty Butchers.  Also on the bill was Hidaka Toru, former frontman of the disbanded lo-fi rock unit Beat Crusaders.  Kicking off the night was Nagoya’s own experimental punk group Dancebeach.

For information on future shows check out their website at http://huckfinn.co.jp.  Still going strong after 30 years, we can look forward to many more years of Huck Finn as a local indie-rock institution.