Archive for the ‘Utada Hikaru’ Category

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J-Rock Fridays Vol. 6: Halloween Edition

October 30, 2009

Greetings, and welcome to the special Halloween edition of J-Rock Fridays. Some of the videos here are fun, with a little bit of spook, and others are downright disturbing.  Watch at your own risk!

world’s end girlfriend- “We are the massacre”

WARNING: DISTURBING CONTENT In the anime Yu Yu Hakusho, former spirit detective Sensui was shown a never ending videotape detailing all the crimes and wars of humanity.  I’m pretty sure these clips were taken from that video.  Nothing but 6 minutes of archival footage of murder, stabbing, strangling, throat slitting, jumping out windows, jumping off buildings, and just plain death.  World’s end girlfriends’s music was creepy enough but this video just put him over the edge.  At least it’s in black and white. (myspace)

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Announcement: 2009 US Release Calender

September 24, 2009

On this blog, I like to talk about what Japanese albums are getting a US release.  So, I’d like to introduce a page I’ve been working on since the beginning of this year, the 2009 US Release Calender. It’s been live all this time, but considering it has only gotten 39 views so far, I have to assume no one knows it exists.  It’s a very simple list of what came out this year, followed by a link to where to buy it and their myspace if applicable.  I only include albums that were released on CD or vinyl.  MP3 downloads are too numerous and really take no effort to release.  I like physical media.  It gives me a sense of ownership that MP3s will never, ever have.

http://croquiscrisis.wordpress.com/2009-us-releases/

What I’ve bought this year (just 2009 releases):

Vinyl- Hush and Transparence 10″ by Asobi Seksu and Hymn to the Immortal Wind by Mono

CD: self titled albums by FACT and parms, P-POP HIGH SCHOOL by Peelander-Z, and Utada’s second English album This Is The One

DVD: A Knot Of by Dir en grey

I also have 9dw’s self titled LP.  It came moments ago, that’s why it’s not in the picture.  There’s also a couple other things I have on order.  Right now, albums I’m most looking forward to later this year are Armonica Hewa by OOIOO, Rewolf by Asobi Seksu, and Dir en grey’s music video collection.  I also have to applaud Maru Music for getting their releases on Hot Topic shelves.  I was able to buy Versailles’ debut album from there a few months ago.

I’m constantly updating this page, I added three releases yesterday alone, so be sure to bookmark it.  Also, be on the lookout for a This Month In J-Rock announcement next week.

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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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Random J-Rock Updates #9

May 11, 2009

The triumphant return!

-”Layers” from Asobi Seksu’s new album is used in the movie Treeless Mountain.  It was also on Ugly Betty.

-Download Hoshina Aniversary’s “Galaxy” mixes here.

-Quixotik covered Aerosmith. lol

-Cornelius canceled his North American tour.  Swine Flu!

-Temporary Residence is releasing the Young Widows/Melt-Banana split.  PS: I’m still waiting for my Mono preorder TempRes!!

-Utada has a new CD coming out.  She wants to sign it.

-Both m.o.v.e. and The Slants canceled their performance at Anime Central on Saturday.  Sorry guys, no review this year :(

-the telephones have signed to a major label

-A short video of FACT’s US tour.  The tour was canceled after a serious van accident.

I’ll be graduating college next Sunday so hopefully I’ll have more time to update this blog now.

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Most Downloaded Lady

October 6, 2007

Utada Hikaru has sold 10,491,000 tunes in the past 9 months making her the world’s best selling artist this year in terms of digital download sales.

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Flavor of Life

February 27, 2007

Utada Hikaru’s song Flavor of Life was so good they had to make 5 versions! The single comes out tomorrow in Japan.

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