Best of 2011: CollaborationsFebruary 8, 2012
Slowly plowing through the year end lists, here’s our favorite collaborations and supergroups of 2011.
AA=AiD- “We’re not alone”
After the natural disasters of 2011, it was cool to see all the “pray for Japan” benefit tracks and compilations that cropped up on the internet from all over the world. AA=AiD is a project led by Takeshi Ueda (AA=) that recorded this song to encourage reconstruction efforts. “We’re not alone” is a veritable who’s who of J-Rock and features Hayashi (Polysics), Shinichi Ubukata (Nothing’s Carved In Stone) and Akihiro Namba (Hi-STANDARD) among many others. You can download it for free here.
Kenzi Masubuchi’s Punk Ska Unity did much the same but with even more punk/ska artists.
The Matsuri Session- “Kimochi”
Zazen Boys and Kimonos (my favorite supergroup of 2010), both projects of Mukai Shutoku, did a show together back in October. Apparently it was important enough to warrant the recording of a brand new song. “Kimochi” sends off all kinds of feel good vibes and also comes in Leo Imai, Yoshida Ichiro, Yoshikane Sou and Matsushita Atsushi varieties. I don’t think this song was ever released officially in download or physical format but at least you got five versions to tide you over.
Nujabes- “Spiritual State feat. Uyama Hiroto”
Two years ago, the world lost one of the most influential hip hop producers of all time. Fellow Hydeout Productions artist Uyama Hiroto played a huge part in piecing together the tracks Nujabes left behind that resulted in his final album Spiritual State. The title track couples gorgeous piano with Hiroto’s silky saxophone that truly takes you to someplace spiritual. (CD Japan)
LITE “Pirates and Parakeets feat. Achico and avengers in sci-fi”
I don’t know if Achico and avengers in sci-fi helped out on the album version of “Pirates and Parakeets,” but throwing them on stage is a damn good way to get me interested in buying their new DVD. The tropical sounds and “oh oh ohs” that made this my favorite track on For All the Innocence is still there on this live version made even better with the spacy sounds of avengers in sci-fi.
Maia Hirasawa- “Here I Am feat. toe”
The reverse of “Pirates and Parakeets,” post rockers toe joins Swedish/Japanese singer Maia Hirasawa as her backing band in this Boom! b-side. Toe does a great job as always, but Maia Hirasawa is the interesting subject here. Victor Entrainment tried to bring fellow Swedish singer Frida Sundemo to Japan in 2010 to mixed results. Maia Hirasawa seems to be doing better with her second Japanese only single “The Best Team” released in January. (CD Japan)
salyu x salyu- 話したいあなたと
Salyu always sounds better with a man behind her. As was the case with her 2011 salyu x salyu project produced by Cornelius. Although not as arresting as her Lily Chou-Chou work, Cornelius works his magic to lift Salyu out of blandsville. Plus s(o)un(d)beams made for some great doppelganger PVs and live clips. In 2012 Salyu goes back to boring old J-Pop but not without leaving us a salyu x salyu live DVD as a souvenir. (CD Japan/Play-Asia)
hydrant house purport rife on sleepy- “bet on magic feat. ferri.”
“Bet On Magic” holds the record for most voted video on J-Rock Fridays. I don’t know if you people really liked it or if someone found out I just don’t give a damn anymore and decided to drop the “block by cookie” feature from my current polls. In any case, hydrant house has grown on me and they’ve collaborated with pretty much all their kilk records labelmates on their debut album. Their song with downy’s Yutaka Aoki is pretty neat too. (CD Japan)
The Dekits- “Superduperfolk”
Keishi “KC” Tanaka announced the formation of The Dekits shortly after Riddim Saunter announced their breakup. I didn’t pay any attention to that until “Coming Over” popped up in my subscriptions and realized who The Dekits are. Joining KC is Comeback My Daughter’s TK, Frontier Backyard’s TGMX and Your Song Is Good’s Maurice. All frontmen of three of the leading indie bands in Japan.
The great thing about The Dekits is the fact that it’s not all about KC. In the super fun “Superduperfolk,” all four men have a go at vocals and they switch vocals on every single sing. There’s no ego sticking out in The Dekits. Just four dudes singing simple music with nothing but acoustic guitars. (CD Japan)
Love and Hates- “Kung-Fu Ripping feat. AFRA”
I tend to think of Love and Hates as less of a supergroup than two girls having a lot fun. HNC’s Yuppa and Miila and the Geeks’ Moe formed the group a few years ago as a DJ unit for their Twee Grrrls Club parties. In 2011 they released their first album together as Love and Hates, a fun tribute to hip hop with some nursery rhymes thrown in. It features a lot of guests, such as Afra in “Kung-Fu Ripping” and Hideki Kaji in the awesome Muppets cover “Mahna Mahna.” (CD Japan)
One of the more talked about supergroups of the year, the only thing toddle really did for me was introduce me to moools. Still, they are leagues ahead of any of Art-School’s recent supergroups. Toddle was formed by Hisako of bloodthirsty butchers/Number Girl and features support members from Luminous Orange. (CD Japan/Play-Asia)