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Friday, August 17, 2007

WE'RE MOVING..............

That's right, everything must go, closing down sale etc etc. Not really closing down, moving onto a trial site that's got a few more whistles and bells. I'm in the process of transferring some of the content from here to the new site but all future updates will be at the new site, not here. Please bookmark the new one, come back again and again and tell all your friends about the wonder that is.......

Tokyo Guide

Thursday, August 16, 2007

CAR Event, and more of our Nationalist buddies.

As the video that I uploaded to YouTube (the first one, aren't I great?) shows, yesterday the Nationalists were out in force making speeches, waving flags and generally looking thuggish and in-bred. To paraphrase Bill Hicks, why do most people who believe in their racial superiority look so unevolved? The picture below was taken at the Hachiko crossing in Shibuya where the only people paying much attention to the blokes giving speeches (apart from their own rent-a-crowd of discount-Yakuza wannabes) were the foreign tourists stopping to take pictures. It's such a pity that irony is probably lost on the sad, sad individuals.

Almost equally as shite, but in a completely different way is Omotesando Hills. It seems like these kinds of buildings are springing up all over the place at the moment and they are little more than upmarket versions of the soulless malls that mar the landscape in other countries. The usual suspects are there - Dunhill, D&G, Chanel, along with overpriced restaurants and coffee shops staffed by assistants who look down their nose at you despite the fact they're probably only getting paid a thousand yen an hour and they haven't had a break in six weeks. Bottom line, it's air-conned, and in this heat that's all you care about. At any other time there is no reason to go in there unless you want to laugh at the sad poseurs who pout their way around Tokyo putting in far too much effort to be cool.

On a brighter note, there is another CAR event coming up. I implore you to go - not only is the line-up a great one, but Ian's home and final scraps of food are on the line here too. It's your moral duty to go, look:

Call And Response & 20000V Presents:
Tanz Tanz Tanz!
6.00 open / 6.30 start
1800 yen +drink (adv)
2000 yen +drink (door)
worst taste
cottonioo (opening act)
Hiroki (Mir)
Ian (CAR)
Special wine bar: 1 cup, 100 yen (as usual)

The Shittest Tokyo Music?

Ah, the nationalists out to play on August 15th - it's not really what you want to hear or see at the best of times but it's even worse when the temperature is hovering somewhere in the high 30s and you're waiting on a friend who's got on the wrong train.

Guitarist wo Korosanaide, bloodthirsty butchers

“Expectations can be a wicked thing to overcome, especially for a band with a career as illustrious as bloodthirsty butchers.” - James Route, review of Guitarist wo Korosanaide on Keikaku a couple of weeks ago. This is undoubtedly true but I have a confession to make - even though I write regularly about Japanese music, Guitarist wo Korosanaide is the first bloodthirsty butchers album I’ve ever bought (I also killed the class hamster when I was in primary school but that was in self-defence and it’s a story for another day). There, I said it, I feel so much better. Now that my bloodthirsty butchers cherry has been popped, the question is, “How was it for me?” Short answer - probably better than anyone who is coming to this album with previous knowledge of the band.

bloodthirsty butchers have been making music since 1987, and twenty years down the line this album does sound like a blast from an earlier era. Do you remember when shirts were plaid, hair was greasy and the Cult of Kurt still revolved around a living figurehead? Do you pine for raggedy-arsed vocals backed up with guitar parts you can park a bus on? Do you want some retro-sounding rock that wasn’t made by a group of pale Gang of Four fans in skinny ties and shite haircuts? If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions then this album is one you should probably seek out.

For me, “yeah#1” is one of the best opening songs I’ve heard on an album in recent times, and it was an obvious choice for the first single. It’s hardly going to rival dubstep in terms of innovation or originality but it’s an exhilarating way to kick things off - the drums sound like they’re being pummeled to within an inch of their lives, the riffs are huge and the vocals unashamedly shouty. It sounds early Nineties and there isn’t a lot on here that breaks that mould. For some people that may make this album something of a drag but I’ve found myself coming back to this album again and again. The only complaint I’d have about Guitarist wo Korosanaide is that most of the tracks could have done with some more judicious editing. Most of them clock in at between five and six minutes, and more often than not the final minute is little more than instrumental fluff that adds little to the song.

If you’re already a fan of the band then you’re probably going to find this record disappointing, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Guitarist wo Korosanaide earns bloodthirsty butchers a few more fans. There’s more than enough here to draw in casual listeners, a lot of whom will go on and seek out some of the band’s earlier work, me included.

Monday, August 13, 2007

MOTOR MUSTANG new on JapanFiles


August 13, 2007 – teams up with new Japanese label Sputnik Lab this month to release the debut album "Make Your Head Down" from hot Japanese rock trio MOTOR MUSTANG.

In 2005 MOTOR MUSTANG appeared on the Rookie-a-Go-Go stage at the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan. In 2006, MOTOR MUSTANG was given the last play slot for new bands at the Summer Sonic Festival in Japan. The band has distanced themselves from other Japanese bands with their amazing sound and crazy live shows.

Since they were kids they have longed to be rock stars. With a sound that has been compared to JET, The Datsuns and Wolf Mother, MOTOR MUSTANG's shouting vocals and guitar riffs will give you goosebumps. MOTOR MUSTANG continues to run wild and dangerous on stage in Japan.

Music at:

Recommended tracks: Trap Of Life

Friday, August 10, 2007

What do points make? Not as much as they used to...

A couple of months ago, Ken M wrote about the loss of the indie section of Tower Records' Shibuya store (on the excellent Japan Live blog). When I lived in the UK I avoided Tower like the plague, not wanting to pay the exorbitant prices they charged (probably to cover the rent for those prime locations they always favoured). However, once I moved to Japan I found that Tower here was reasonably priced and one of the easiest places to buy English books and magazines from. They weren't the only reasons I went back there again and again - step forward the mighty Tower Points card. Admittedly, you had to spend ¥50,000 to get a discount of ¥3000, but with judicious timing (i.e during the frequent double points campaigns) it wasn't that difficult to fill the cards up. Like the indie section at the Shibuya store, this card is no more. Last week I bought a couple of CDs and found that Tower have introduced a new card, which is more complex than the old one (won't go into the boring details) - worst of all is the fact that you now have to rack up ¥75,000 in purchases to get that ¥3000. Is this a sign that the economic woes faced by Tower in the States have crossed the Pacific, or is the company just hoping that no-one would really notice?

A year older but certainly no wiser

I meant to write this post on the day (August 8th), but to be honest I completely forgot. Tokyo Music is one year old, my liver is probably ten years older and, as I said above, I'm absolutely no wiser than I was at this time last year. Saying that, I have met a lot of great people (and some utter cunts), heard some remarkable bands and some not so good. Most of all though, it's shown me a far more entertaining side of Tokyo and Japanese music that I knew before. So, happy birthday to me - cakes aren't welcome but drinks are.

New Mothercoat Album on JapanFiles


August 7, 2007 – has teamed with SXSW-favorite mothercoat to launch the same-day release of the band's third full-length CD "+birdless" on August 8, 2007.

"+birdless" features mothercoat's trademark eclectic style on eight all-new tracks, including a totally re-worked version of their early-era demo song "yoghurt bus."

mothercoat made USA appearances at Fanime 2006 and SXSW 2007. They were nominated for Best Japanese Rock Band in Shojo Beat's 2007 Music Issue.

Music at:

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Falsies on Heat back on JapanFiles

Tired and pissed off with heat and humidity so lazy cut and paste:


August 1, 2007 – After a brief absence from the roster, Falsies on Heat returns to thanks to a new partnership with the band's current label Sputnik Lab.

Falsies on Heat was nominated for Best Japanese All-Girl Band in Shojo Beat's 2007 Music Issue.

Recommended tracks: Groovy, Fat, Aphrodite.

Listen here.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ten Questions - Kay Grace

1) Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Kay Grace. I record (very infrequently) and perform (a little more often) with ok city ok in Tokyo. I also write advice columns on a freelance basis and will sing the national anthem of the country of your choice at kick boxing matches.

2) How did Ok City Ok come into being?

I came to Japan to get away from music, actually, but once here I discovered that 1) the gear I coveted as a poor person in the US was outdated and hence considered practically junk here, and 2) I didn't have any worthwhile ways of spending free time except for lurking around music stores. I acquired a pile of moldering recording gear and then started writing music to try to justify the expenditure. After I had enough songs for a record, I set about getting a quorum together to play live. This process consumed what was left of my youth.

I should be grateful, though, because Tom and Shiba are lovely people and great players and they practically insisted on joining the band right when I had finally decided, not for the first time, that I really really hated music and was through with it. Now I play in a band and write songs primarily because I like the other two members and want to impress them.

3) You played with bands in the States and managed Cotton Mather - is there much difference between the evil machinations of the music business there and here in Japan?

I was only in one band in the US - completely obscure, but people have long memories. I was Cotton Mather's tour manager - a roadie, basically. Anyway, I don't know if I have much to say about the music business either there or here, considering how peripheral my involvement has been.

4) There are other foreign/partly foreign bands in Tokyo but not many - how do the audiences react?

They avert their eyes and giggle nervously, but they do that no matter who's onstage. "React" strikes me as a strong word for whatever it is that audiences do at Tokyo livehouses. "Do" might be a bit of an overstatement as well. You may discern a sour edge to my tone here. I'm being a jackass. Actually, the issue of foreignness has just never come up with us, as far as I'm aware.

5) You recently toured the States and Canada - how was it and when are you likely to be taking your next spin overseas?

It was a lifesaver. I had forgotten what it was like to play in North America. Tom & Shiba were champs - they were totally unfazed by the chaos of the bar shows over there. We dug the immediacy and degree of engagement exhibited by audiences in Canada and the US. We're looking to go overseas again before the end of the year.

6) Which bands/artists should we be on the look out for?

Keisuke Hinami, who sometimes plays with us on violin and guitar, has a project called the Hinshi Etude. Beautiful singing, eerie songs - lots of them. He has something like ten different CDs which he gives away absolutely free at his shows - one way to beat the 30-minutes-per-set livehouse system. The Brixton Academy is the most entertaining band I've seen in Japan, and they managed to make a record that is just as much fun as their live shows. I envy and hate them for this.

7) What's your favourite venue a) to play; b) to see a band?

In Tokyo, we like Silver Elephant in Kichijoji and Garage in Shimo-Kitazawa. You know, I just don't get out enough. The only time I ever see bands is when we play with them.

8) Kirin, Asahi or Sapporo?


9) Vinyl, CD or mp3?

You can't line your apartment with mp3s to impress the ladies. People used to say that about CDs, though, when vinyl was getting frog-marched out of existence by the music biz. Those people were incorrect, however.

10) Have you got any upcoming events/releases you want to promote?

The next show is at Silver Elephant in Kichijoji, August 24 (Fri). We will be performing some new songs (gasp).

Our "record" Made By Elaborate Process is available from iTunes, though every goddamn time I look it up the artist name is different. This link will take you to the Apple Store, where you can download the album with some random person's name there instead of ok city ok. I wonder who gets the money. Searches for ok city ok turn up nothing on iTunes. Why does Apple hate us so? I had a Macintosh PowerBook 5300 - haven't I suffered enough?

CD Baby, on the other hand, will send you a shiny new shrink-wrapped ok city ok CD for just ten bucks, and they know our name.

That's about it. Thanks for asking.