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”).

[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.

 

[Japan] Cigarette in your Bed – “Darkness”

Cigarette in your Bed have been a part of the Japan Shoegaze scene as it has been growing over the last few years.  The trio released their debut LP Darkness earlier this month via shoegaze label High Fader Records (Lemon’s Chair, sugardrop, Yellow Loveless).  They’ve been gigging alongside Lemon’s Chair, who released an album of their own in April and who are getting ready to re-release their much sough after debut.  Cigarette in your Bed released a video for their first single “Let Me Out” and today announced that they will be shooting another for the album’s title track.  The EP version of “Let Me Out” is available for free download as part of Muso Planet volume 4.

[Japan] “Dark Entries” by The Florist

The Florist

Tokyo’s The Florist were featured in the most recent issue of Muso Planet, having just released their debut full-length Dark Entries.  One of many emerging shoegaze artists in Japan, the band made their name with the track “Middle of Winter” which originally appeared on their first release, a maxi-single of the same name.  The band have announced a summer tour in support of the album and have released a video for new single “Sun Kills Moon”.  Though the physical CD is currently available on a bunch of Japanese sites, the band has announced that it will be available via iTunes in June.

Cigarette in your Bed Announce Debut Album

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Tokyo’s Cigarette in your Bed have announced that their debut full-length album “Darkness” will be released this coming May via High Fader Records (Lemon’s Chair, Sugardrop, Yellow Loveless).  The trio, who frequently feature at the Japan Shoegazer Festival have been gigging regularly since the new year in addition to working on their upcoming release.  In March they will be taking the stage at Lemon’s Chair’s record release show at Tokyo’s Koenji High.

Cigarette in your Bed are a treat live, always putting on a powerful and entertaining show en route to establishing themselves as one of Japan’s more impressive shoegaze acts.  To date they have released a handful of EPs which are made available at gigs.  Until now, it’s been difficult to hear their music online outside of recorded live footage, so the upcoming album should be much anticipated for fans of Japanese shoegaze music.