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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm buggering off...

In about four hours time I'll be dragging my weary arse into a taxi and heading off on the marathon journey that is inevitable when going to Narita Airport. Our flight is at 10.30 but we're leaving here at 5.40, so that means I have approximately three hours in which to sleep - do you see how devoted I am to this blog?

Anyway, I'll be back in the new year and although I'll be checking this when I'm on holiday, I doubt I'll be posting anything (but if there are comments here I'll respond to them). To the lonely crofters and their dogs who make up this blog's pitiful audience, I wish you all the best - enjoy celebrating whatever it is you celebrate. Cheers.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Daftness for daftness sake can be a great thing. With this in mind, have a look at the Burgerlog blog (and Burgerlog 2 - The Japan version) - if you don't leave these sites with a smile on your face I'm not sure there's much hope for you at all. You're probably the same kind of person that thinks James Blunt is a profound commentator on the vagaries of human existence rather than a talentless, charmless, ex-military goon with all the depth of a Hallmark card. Bitter? Me?

You Ain't No Picasso

Good site anyway, but elevated to god-like status for having a downloadable mp3 of Intervention, a new song by The Arcade Fire. It sounds as if they're going to continue from exactly where they left off - maybe there is a god after all.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Psycrons

“Kyoto? That's the old capital of Japan, isn't it? The place with all the temples and shrines and Geisha and stuff? Yeah, a friend of mine went there once and said it was OK, but it got a bit boring after the fourth or fifth temple. Bloody school kids and middle-aged women everywhere too, he said.”

“Kyoto? Amazing city. The temples and shrines are beautiful and three days just wasn't long enough to do justice to the place. The city just absolutely oozes culture – it's in the buildings and the air itself. Remarkable.”

“Kyoto? Isn't that where they signed the environmental agreement that no bugger pays any attention to?

All stereotypical but plausible reactions to the question, “What do you know about Kyoto?” However, stereotypes are there to be shattered and The Psycrons ought to be the band that put Kyoto on the map for something other than its history and a toothless environmental protocol. Looking like extras who have strayed from the set of an Austin Powers film, and sounding like the last forty years of music has passed them by completely, The Psycrons are here to save the world. OK, that's just journailistic exaggeration, but The Psycrons are definitely here to brighten up the world.

The Miracle of The Psycrons is the band's second album and is out now. It careers around the touchstones of 60s music like Tigger on speed, nicking bits and bobs from all over the place: the scuzzy guitars of The Sonics, the vocal harmonies of The Byrds and a rhythm section straight out of the Motor City. The whole thing is powered by the meaty beaty big and bouncy energy of The Who and it sounds great. Standout tracks include Jetter of Love, which opens the album with a blast; and Footprints in the Winter which sounds like the mutant Japanese cousin of The Mamas and Papas backed by the MC5.

It would be easy to dismiss them as mere copyists who wish they'd been born a generation or two earlier, but that would be to miss the point. The Psycrons are a different breed to the current swathe of UK bands who are all desperately trying to be Gang of Four: their songs have a verve and energy about them that lifts them far beyond mere pastiche. Like The White Stripes, The Psycrons' seem to create more than just music. They have built up an alternative reality for themselves which they inhabit at all times. The Psycrons make no bones about their historical roots – this is who they are and that's that, and when the music's this good that's all that matters.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

UFO and The Sunshine Underground

I went to see The Sunshine Underground do a brief in-store appearance in the Tower Records store in Shibuya tonight. A friend of mine gave me a copy of their album recently and I'd only listened to it once, but the tickets were free so it seemed daft not to go (I'd also had a shite day at work so it was a welcome way to wind it up). If you haven't heard them they sound a bit like a British version of The Rapture, although they're more than just copyists. They played an acoustic set which worked surprisingly well - no doubt a sign of the strength of their songs - and then came back for a brief interview with a local radio DJ. Anyone who has seen Lost in Translation will be able to visualise this interview perfectly - the DJ would chunter away for about thirty seconds and then turn to the interpreter, who would then ask the band something as short and simple as "What do you think of Japan?" or "What's your favourite colour?". The band looked fairly relieved when it was all over.

Onto a vastly different kind of music. I recently got an E.P by a Japanese band called 10 from the JapanFiles website. I was intrigued by the description so I downloaded it late one night and promptly forgot all about it. I was making up a CD for a friend tonight and I noticed the two songs from the E.P at the very top of my iTunes list. "Let's give 'em a bash", I thought and off we went. About thirty five minutes later the music stopped and I felt like I'd just been to the dentist. They're an acquired taste, one I'm not sure I'm going to acquire. I'd like to see them live or as an accompaniment to experimental theatre/dance, but for me, the music just didn't work on its own. I'm sure John Peel would've loved them.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

How's that for service

In response to young dotdash's comment I had a look at the website and I have only just recovered my socks that were blown off. It's here, it's good, but it's not an excuse for you to never come back to this blog.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I should be writing...

...but I'm not. On the plus side I'm finding some good sites. Have a look at Hideki's site if you get a chance. There's a variety of stuff here - CD reviews, a diary, some articles (including one about his first trip on a train) which are worth checking out.

Another Japanese music site - J-Music Ignited

This one's a bit more wide-ranging than Keikaku, covering more mainstream Japanese music as well as the indie stuff. It's also got info about bands from other parts of Asia and Europe. There's bound to be something here that to float your boat.

Is it just me...

...or does this look like Genesis P Orridge, frontman of industrialists Throbbing Gristle:

It's from an advert for habanero flavoured crisps on a train in Tokyo. Here's the man himself - surely there's more than just a passing resemblance:

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

If only all coppers ate here...

Saw this yesterday when I was out wandering. I don't know if it's the doughnuts or what but I'm sure the local constabulary avoid the place like the plague, meaning that it's ripe for a bit of armed robbery (not that I'm planning to do any).

The Psycrons and The Golden Loafers

I heard about these two bands from Michael Solo at Solo Records, and the world is a much better place with them in it. The Psycrons (above) are a fantastic blast of Sonics-like 60's psychedelic garage and also have possibly the coolest MySpace page I've seen. Golden Loafers, who at times seem to be fronted by the Japanese James Brown, are funkier than a lonely student's wanking sock (in the best possible sense) and look as if they'd be outstanding live.

I only got the albums today so I haven't had a chance to do a review but I can safely say that on the first listen they both sound superb. Have a look at the bands' MySpace pages for a taster, and if you're in the States I think they're headed their in the spring, so you know what to do. Check back around the weekend by which time I'll hopefully have something more detailed written about both bands.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I'm not the most computer literate of people... I don't know if there's a better way to do this. I just published a review of Miaou's new E.P but because I started writing it a few days ago and saved it is a draft it's stuck back in November's archives. If anyone knows a way to change its position please let me know. In the meantime, if you want to read the review, it's here. Alternatively you can just scroll down the page.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

November Top 10

Actually managed to get out and buy/download/listen to a fair amount of stuff last month so I think for once the Top 10 is actually based on merit rather than filling space. Shit, I've said too much. On with the chart.

1) Water & Me - Miaou
2) We Lost It - Miaou
3) Raiku - Mosquito
4) Ame ni mo Makete - Mothercoat
5) Kung Fu Girl - Limited Express (has gone?)
6) Many Many Sweets - Macdonald Duck Eclair
7) Gold Tears, Silver Tears - Camille of the Raspberry Lemonade
8) GT400 - Thee Michelle Gun Elephant
9) Gaikokujin - Mosquito
10) Air - Mothercoat

A few points. Why do so many of the bands start with 'M'? I have no idea. Why is GT4oo in here when it's donkey's years old? Because I hadn't heard it in ages and the clip from YouTube brought back a lot of memories. Why are Miaou at number one and two? Because over the course of the three years that separates the two releases the band changed quite substantially, and even if they hadn't, they're fucking ace and that's that. Hasn't Raiku been here before? Yup, but it's that good.

I've been wanting to write profiles/posts about some of the bands mentioned above, but I haven't had a chance to. The songs by Mothercoat, Mosquito, Camille of the Raspberry Lemonade, Limited Express, and Macdonald Duck Eclair are all available for download at Japan Files. I'm afraid you're going to have to go the old-fashioned way and order the CDs from the bands' websites.

For more info on Macdonald Duck Eclair, read this piece from the Japan Live blog.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Is this how it's supposed to be done?

While checking the Indigenous Beliefs blog that I mentioned before I followed some of the links from the comments and found another decent blog. Is this how you're supposed to do it? I'm not old but I came late to the internet party and I'm still a little like the bloke who stands in the corner nursing his drink and wondering exactly what this music is that everyone else seems to love. Have a look at this blog if you get the chance, the YouTube clip is good, but the rest of the blog is worth reading too.