Archive for the ‘Muon’ Category

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Random J-Rock Updates #10

September 25, 2009

In an attempt to make more regular columns on J-Rock Explosion, Random J-Rock Updates returns!  I’ll probably be doing this every Wednesday from now on, starting the Wednesday after next Wednesday.  I compile these mainly from myspace Activity Stream and bulletins, sometimes there’s nothing to report for days.  I’ve also added a new feature to this column, Myspace Band of the Week.  This is a band that randomly added me on myspace or vice versa and doesn’t suck.  These are mostly small bands that don’t have any music videos for me to show off for J-Rock Fridays.  There’s probably more words in this paragraph than the actual news, but go on…

-Asobi Seksu’s new album Rewolf will come out November 10 via Polyvinyl records.  The album was one of the last recorded at the legendary Olympic Studios.  Pre-order is available here.

-Muon has 4 new live tracks for free here.  They are currently writing their new studio album.

-Cornelius is producing original music for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

-Absolute Polysics will be available on iTunes September 29.

-Freaky Frog is putting out their debut album on November 4 in Japan.  The band is fronted by former BEAT CRUSADER umu.

-Overground Acoustic Underground has a trailer for their new album.

-BoA’s US album was released again.

-Maru Music will put out An Cafe’s new album BB Parallel World on October 20.  It will include a DVD with four music videos and a live clip.

-Dir en grey will be in North America this November.   FACT will be touring with Senses Fail this October.

MYSPACE BAND OF THE WEEK

BANK

BANK is an acoustic/jazz band from Too Young Records.

http://www.myspace.com/bankjp

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This Year In J-Rock: 2008

July 25, 2009

Most music blogs give you their year end lists days before Christmas.  Not here at J-rock Explosion.  We give it to you at Christmas in July.  There’s really no excuse for me this time.  I had the list mostly finished by the end of January, I was just too lazy to put pictures and words.  But I think it gave me enough time to fine tune the list, kick off the albums I never listened to since, etc.  Have fun!

Top 3 EPs

3. perfect piano lesson- Terra incognita

With Terra incognita, perfect piano lesson has successfully fused indie and post-rock.  From the quiet and reflective “stew,” to the slow building “untitled,” this is perfect piano lesson’s finest offering to date.  But we still have a couple of their upbeat rock songs, including the excellent closer “Electric City.”

http://www.myspace.com/perfectpianolesson

2. winnie- The Darkest Eternal Lights

With duel male/female vocals, winnie’s first release is a memorable one.  Their English vocals and pop rock tendencies are similar to bands like Jimmy Eat World.  It can be sweet (but tonally dark), as in “lost your sky” and “only time will tell,” or aggressive as in “suck my brain.” I’m not impressed with the single “Starlike Radio” and it’s all male vocals but the rest of the EP makes up for it.

http://www.myspace.com/winnieweb

1. Thursday/Envy- Split (US Release)

Temporary Residence really knocked themselves out on this release.  Not only did they bring over one of the best hardcore bands from Japan, but also one of the best from America (New Jersey to be exact).  As a fan of Thursday previously, I was impressed with their post-rock offerings and “As He Climbed the Dark Mountain,” which made it to their newest album.  Envy’s side started off slowly with a nice post-rock intro and then burst into full on post-hardcore for the rest of their material.  I was surprised, there wasn’t much screaming on Insomniac Doze and then they start resembling the band I loved on All the footprints.  It will also be memorable to me for two reasons, 1) It’s the first album I bought on vinyl and 2) I made a music video for envy’s “an umbrella fallen into fiction” for my television production class (more on that in another post!).

http://www.myspace.com/thursday

http://www.myspace.com/officialenvy

Top 10 Albums

10. the telephones- Japan

The Telephones took us to the urban disco on their debut mini-album and now they bring us back to their home country on their debut album.  I was surprised how chill some of the songs on this album were, in particular the single “Free Throw.”  However, there’s plenty of crazy songs like “DaDaDa” and “sick rocks.”  1, 2, 3, 4, can’t you understand?

http://www.myspace.com/thetelephonesjapan

9. sgt.- Stylus Fantasticus

Ever since post-rock became scene a couple of years ago, bands have constantly tried to infuse different genres into it, jazz being prevalent.  Well, most of these bands just ended up sounding like…jazz.  To this day, sgt. has been the only band that has successfully incorporated jazz and post-rock.  “Saisei to Misshitsu” is a prime example of how to combine horns into a perfectly good post-rock song.

http://www.myspace.com/sgtofficial

8. noughts and exes- Act One, Scene One (US Release)


Why are you including a Chinese band in your top 10 Japanese albums?  Because I love Joshua Wong.  Not to mention, their song “A Minor To A Major” made it’s way to MTV’s Real World (it’s true, I sat through a full hour of this show.  It was horrible.).  Can you say that about any other Japanese band I posted on this blog?  Nope.  Noughts and exes isn’t as good as Wong’s previous band, Whence He Came, but it serves up some nice indie rock.  And I already decided “Everything In You” will be my wedding song, in like 20 years.

http://www.myspace.com/noughtsandexes

7. Beat Crusaders- popdod


It’s been ten years since the band (or just Toru Hidaka) have been together, time to put out a new album!  I’m actually surprised how quickly this album came out, since “Winterlong” was the only single (EPopMaking had soooo many more).  Despite the rush job, there’s plenty of classics on here, like “Time Flies, Everything Goes,” “Chinese Jet Set” and “Work It Out.”

6. Spangle call Lilli line- Isolation

Kana Otsubo has a truly beautiful voice and ISOLATION proves it.  During the fall semester, I went through 2 or 3 straight weeks of listening to this in the morning on the way to school.  There’s nothing like watching the sun rise up with ISOLATION as the soundtrack.  It’s impossible to listen to this and not be put in a good mood.

http://www.myspace.com/spanglecalllilliline

5. Polysics- We ate the machine (US Release)

Grower.  Not a word I thought I would associate with a Polysics album.  I was disappointed with the J-pop direction they seemed to be heading with in “Rocket” and “Pretty Good,” not to mention “You You You” and “Catch on Everywhere” from Karate House, but this album is just as crazy as any of their others.  We ate the machine includes the band’s first endeavor in disco (“irotokage”), breakcore (“arigatou”), shoegaze (“Blue Noise”), and their biggest breakdown yet at the end of “Dry or Wet.”  Yeah, the Polysics are just as spastic as ever.

http://www.myspace.com/polysicsna

4. Zazen Boys- Zazen Boys 4

If you’re looking for another Japanese hipster band ala Cornelius, Zazen Boys is up your alley.  Zazen Boys 4 is the Zazen Boys’ fourth self-titled album and my favorite to date.  They hooked me right away with the electronic “Asobi.”  The rest of the album is full of eccentricities, the funky “Weekend,” the speak easy vibe in “Taratine,” and the 10 minute dance track “I don’t want to be with you.”

http://www.myspace.com/zazenboys

3. kacica- Mosaic (US Release)

The first name that pops up when I think Japanese shoegaze is kacica.  Mosaic is simply beautiful. Misato yamanaka has a way of sounding like an angel through peaceful musical landscapes or chaos.  Just hearing her voice amidst the hardcore tribal drumming in the title track  “mosaic” gives me shivers.  And I don’t even care if the only way I can understand her English is if I’m reading the booklet alongside it. I highly recommend buying all of their CDs off CD Baby.

http://www.myspace.com/kacicajapan

2. capsule- More! More! More!

Capsule only had time to record one album in 2009, but it’s one of their best. I knew I was in for something special when I watched the 7 minute “JUMPER” music video.  They have successfully transitioned from shibuya-kei to techno/dance and I’m surprised they haven’t attracted Daft Punk fame yet.

http://www.myspace.com/capsulemyspace

1. mutyumu (夢中夢)- イリヤ ~ il y a ~

Opera.  Death Metal.  Post-rock.  Just some of the genres mutyumu clashes together on their sophomore album.  Throw in guest appearances from midori and World’s end girlfriend and you know you’re in for one hell of an album.  Il y a has garnered some praise in the west via the post-rock blogosphere.  In a few years, I think they may even have a large cult following like Mono or Envy.

http://www.myspace.com/mutyumujapan

Close Calls:

Akeboshi- Roundabout- If I had to pick a top artist of the year, it would be Akeboshi.  Like many others, my first introduction to him was Naruto years ago.  Despite loving “Wind,” I have largely ignored him until now.  Akeboshi puts most folk musicians to shame.  Meet Along The Way is one of the best albums of the past five years.  Unfortunately, Roundabout is the only material he put out in 2008.  Even though it’s just b-sides, it includes two of my favorite songs of his, “One Step Behind the Door” and “Along the Line.”

avengers in sci-fi- Science Rock- Dance to the sci-fi music! http://www.myspace.com/avengersinscifi

Comeback My Daughters- EXPerience- An excellent mix of folk and indie rock from the Pizza of Death veterans. http://www.myspace.com/comebackmydaughters

Cornelius- Gum EP- The best song off of 2006′s Sensuous was not on the album.  Thankfully, “Cue” made it to this little EP.  Not to mention the “Eat White Paint” remix of “Fit Song.” http://www.myspace.com/corneliusofficial

enie meenie- Fantasy of Life- Enie meenie has been known for synth crazy powerpop, but they take it down a notch on their latest album, substituting some synth with saloon style piano.  One of my favorite punk-pop bands.  http://www.myspace.com/eniemeenie

GALLOW- Too Virgin!!- It’s no secret, I love the Beat Crusaders.    GALLOW is Toru Hidaka’s and Yukio Iwahara’s “neo-acoustic” side project.  If you’re familiar with the Beat Crusader’s synthesized horns, imagine them over acoustic guitar and you have GALLOW.  In the short month between the release of this and popdod, Toru Hidaka’s English improved ten times.  Peculiar.  http://www.myspace.com/gallowjapan

Mass of the Fermenting Dregs- Mass of the Fermenting Dregs- A powerful debut mini-album from the female duo.  The girls can rock.  http://www.myspace.com/motfd

midori- Aratame mashite, Hajime mashite, Midori desu- Okay, I admit, one of the reasons this didn’t make my top 10 is because the album cover is a naked anime character.  But midori is still as crazy as ever.  Who doesn’t love girls screaming over jazz music?

Muon- The New Mutants- This deserves a mention just for “This Is Not the End.”  Not to say that’s the only good track on the album.  Did I mention it’s free? http://www.myspace.com/muonmagick

Saw Loser- Hits Hit the Fan- 2008 may have seen the last of Saw Loser, but not before releasing cover album genius.  From old school hits “Karma Chameleon” and “Fly Me To the Moon,” to James Blunt’s recent pop sensation “You’re Beautiful,” Hits Hit the Fan is a blast.  They even made the Friends theme song tolerable. http://www.myspace.com/sawloser


For more close calls, check out my RYM list!  http://rateyourmusic.com/list/slickwataris/best_of_2008

Now I hate to leave you without a look at 2009, so here are my top 5 albums at the moment:

5. Ogre You Asshole- Pinhole- A single, but my favorite release of theirs so far.

4. FACT-FACT- Uneven at times, but I’m glad there’s another band that managed to crack into the American market.

3. Utada- This Is the One- I didn’t like this one as much as Exodus, but it’s still pretty catchy.  I think she even managed to crack the Billboard 100 with this one.

2. 80kidz- This Is My Shit- If you like Daft Punk or Justice, you’ll love this band.  A lot of fun techno songs.

1. buddhistson- SLOWDANCE ~wisely and slow they stumble that dance fast~- The second I heard buddhistson was recording a new album, I knew it would shoot up to the top of my list.  Two perfect records in a row, congrats.

Well, that’s it for this year.  Hopefully next year’s will come earlier.  If you want a leg up, here’s my 2009 list on rate your music.  Or come back for the return of This Month In J-Rock (next week?).  Here’s some great 2008 music videos to tide you over: Read the rest of this entry ?

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This Month In J-Rock: August 2008

September 22, 2008

This month’s column is relatively shorter with more emphasis on singles.  Why?  Can’t say there have been many mentionable August releases.  Also, I have writer’s block.  That’s what you get for singing up for three writing intensive courses in one semester.  Bitch bitch bitch on with the show.

THE SINGLES

Avengers In Sci-Fi- PLANET ROCK

Some bands take two years off to perfect their sound.  Others just don’t have money to enter the studio.  Avengers in Sci-Fi seem to be in the latter category.  “Save Our Rock” is essentially “Avenger Strikes Back” Part II.  The melody is mostly the same with different lyrics.  After a few listens, I stopped caring, but c’mon.  “Starmine Sister (miss you so much!),” is luckily more original, although on the long side.  I like the Avenger’s take on dance-rock and I still play their first album Avenger Strikes Back on a regular basis.  Both songs on the EP will be available on their 2nd full-length album SCIENCE ROCK due out November 11.

http://www.myspace.com/avengersinscifi

Bonnie Pink- Kane wo Kameshite

Believe me when I say “Kane wo Kameshite” is an unremarkable single.  But the b-sides more than make up for it.  “Pump It Up!” is easily the best J-pop song I’ve heard this year.  So fast, so catchy.  It’s like cotton candy.  So colorful, so retro!  Pump it up!  Pump it up!  Also included on the single is a great remix of “A Perfect Sky” by some dude named Bjorn which reminds me of a fun day at the carnival. I enjoyed this single far more than I thought I would, even if the real “single” was a stinker.  (*)

http://www.myspace.com/bonniepink

D’espairsRay- Kamikaze

I mentioned last month that this would be my first time listening to D’espairsRay.  I’ve been putting them on the back burner, mostly because they’re visual-kei and have been getting far too much attention over at JRR and the other “J-Rock” websites.  “Kamikaze” is the second unremarkable single in this month’s column that was overshadowed by it’s superior b-side.  I’m sure most D’espairsRay fans will disagree but “Scissors” is so much better.  It’s got a cool techno-metal vibe to it.  I thought they were Blood Stain Child for a second.  It’s great to play while I’m doing 40mph in the construction areas by school, and there are so many streets by school getting cut up…

http://www.myspace.com/despairsray

Detroit Metal City x Negishi- Satsugai/Amai Koibito

Murder! Murder! Kill! Kill! Kill!  Detroit Metal City is easily one of the best manga/anime that have come out over the past few years.  “Satsugai” and “Amai Koibito” are used as the opening and end theme, respectively, for the anime and probably the live-action movie (I so want to see this!).  In the series, “Satsugai” is the debut single by heavy metal gods Detroit Metal City.  The song is about raping and murdering your parents.  Gross!  But the DMC fans eat this shit up.  And it’s hard not to laugh at them.  The second song on this single is “Amai Koibito” performed by Negishi, the real-life identity of Krauser II, lead singer of DMC.  It’s such a catchy love song about making sweet breads and eventually making love to your “swiitsu baby.”  Did it make me smile?  YES.  (*)

L’arc~en~ciel- NEXUS 4/Shine

L’arc~en ~ciel are back with their new single “NEXUS 4″ which hasn’t been used as an anime theme song, yet.  But don’t fret, it’s reportedly used in a commercial for the Subaru Legacy automobile.  It’s a competent single, they know what the public wants.  It has some cool dance vibes in the beginning but they quickly fall back into routine.  “Shine,” on the other hand, has been used as the theme song for the anime Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, currently airing on [adult swim] at their 5:30a.m. deathslot.  It’s strange that it took the band this long to release “Shine” as a single, considering Moribito first aired in April 2007 in Japan.  It’s your typical L’arc~en~single, which is to say it’s expected.  “Hydeless” versions of the two singles are included, which means they have no vocals.

NICO Touches the Walls- Broken Youth

I just can’t get away from my anime themes this month.  “Broken Youth” is the current theme for Naruto Shippuden.  I congratulate NICO on making the big leagues.  The single is catchy but not as much as “The Bungy.”  It’s definitely a safe song, it doesn’t break the mold but fits in nicely with Naruto’s rock catelog, not to hide my disdain for all things Naruto.  The next song is slower, quite possibly a love song, and unremarkable.  The ten minute “Guernica” has its epic moments with some awesome harmonica half-way through.  But they’re no post-rock band and shouldn’t do this again.

THE ALBUMS

GOLLBETTY- Betty’s Buggy

What could be better than female ska bands?  Well, a lot, but GOLLBETTY have recently released their third full-length album Betty’s Buggy.  I like to compare them to Oreskaband with the aggressiveness of Ketchup Mania.    “Cool Music,” “HAPPYRAMID,” and “bonds of friendship” have great horn sections and “99%” is a another great 1999-themed song to add to my list.  For the most part, I was unimpressed by this album as it tends to go into pop-rock mode far too often. (-)

http://www.myspace.com/gollbetty

Detroit Metal City- ~for the movie~

I think…they turned…DMC…into a visual-kei band.  I’m sorry but that’s all that comes to mind when I listen to this ten song soundtrack. “Satsugai” is on here, which I love, but these are all DMC songs.  None of the songs by Negishi or Tetrapot Melan Tea are on here which kind of makes it hard for me to listen to. Just from reading the manga and watching the first four episodes of the anime, I can’t recognize any of the other songs on the soundtrack except for the “Rape x10 a second” and the “F*ck” tracks.  I’m sure I’ll like this more after I’ve seen the live-action movie, but it’s a big pass from me right now.  (-)

enie meenie- Fantasy of Life

Officially released in July, I decided to include this in this month’s column for two reasons: I wasn’t able to find it until a couple of weeks ago and this band needs more exposure.  Before this album, enie meenie were mainly a synth driven pop-punk band comparable to Motion City Soundtrack.  They’ve kept some of that for this album but they’ve also added some amazing saloon-style piano to the mix.  The album starts off with the nursury rhyme “enie meenie minie moe, catch a tiger by the toe.”  Frankly, I’m shocked it took them this long to do it but at least it’s out of their system.  “Short Drama” and “Play the Hero” lead off the album strongly while “I May” will go down as one of the finest songs of their carreer.  Unfortunately, there are plenty of slow songs on here such as “Different Nights,” “Parting Song,” and “Sleep” that drag the second half of the album down. However, the first three songs I mentioned are more than enough to recommend this album for. (*)

http://www.myspace.com/eniemeenie

PICK OF THE MONTH

Muon- The New Mutants

I give credit to bands who frequently and consistently give away their music for freeMuon is a three-piece ambient/electronic act from Singapore.  The New Mutants is their third full-length album.  It begins with a guy named Marny doing some spoken word dialog, “how many times do I have to tell I don’t have no fcking money?”  It continues with “From the Cold” and “Against the Grain,” fan favorites from their live material.  “This Is Not The End,” has marching band drums and pounding synths for an epic nine-minutes. “Cylons Dream of Electric Sheep” is the oddball track on the album with sheep “baaaa”-ing every so often.  Outside of the sheep song and “Marny,” there’s no vocals on this album.  They sound and present their material very much like a post-rock band, such as Explosions in the Sky or Mono.  This might not be the flashiest album this month, but it’s quiet and reflective mood will surely resonate with many new fans.  And besides, it’s free, why not pick it up?

http://www.myspace.com/muonmagick

WHAT TO LOOK FOR NEXT MONTH

8otto- Hyper Hyper Hyp8r: This month may have been lackluster but we’ll start next month with the latest album from indie-rockers 8otto.

Dir en grey- Glass Skin: The latest single from their upcoming album Uroboros.

Glory Hill- Going Nowhere: The latest album from the ELLEGARDEN wannabes.

mutyumu- i l ya:  Just letting you know this is a top contender for album of the year.

NICO Touches the Walls- Who Are You?: First full-length album from the Naruto rockers.

OLIVIA- Trinka Trinka: It’s been a couple of years, OLIVIA.  I need to hear your angelic voice again!

Zazen Boys- Zazen Boys 4: Damn! So much great stuff coming out this month.  So far this is dead tied with mutyumu for most amazing album of the year.

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Muon- FREE discography

September 13, 2008

I’ve had my eyes on Muon for several years now.  Muon was a three-piece, now a four-piece, ambient/experimental unit from Singapore.  Their songs tend to be mostly instrumental and electronic with a post-rock feel to it.  From what I understand, Ginnette Chittack from the Singapore indie-rock band Astreal was also a member of the group at one point.  In a recent blog post on myspace, Muon has given away their entire discography, including their 2008 album The New Mutants which I will talking about in greater detail in another post.  Enjoy.

The Death of Cinema (2003)

1. Immanance

2. Outside Looking In

3. Mythic Resolve

4. Realign

5. Prologue

6. Eulogy

7. Belarus

8. Goot Shiz

9. Bloodrush
>> download

In Flught (2004)

1. Paxian

2. Persona non Grata

3. Life and erasure

4. In Flught

5. Jupiter

6. Feel Is

7. Breaking Silence

8. Ourselfs

9. negotiations with an inner voice

>>download

Live In Bangkok (2006)

1. Against the Grain

2. This Is Not the End

3. Stop Taking Sad Pills

4. From the Cold

5. The Dead Sea

>>download

The New Mutants (2007/2008)

1. Marny

2. Love Drops

3. Against the Grain

4. Chromatik Fantastik!

5. The Consequence of

6. This Is Not the End

7. Cylons Dream of Electric Sheep

8. From the Cold

9. Part X

10. What

>>download

for more of their witty banter and side-project downloads click here.

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