Archive for the ‘Asian Kung-Fu Generation’ Category

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J-Rock Fridays Vol. 95

April 19, 2013

Although this week’s storms and floods continue to knock off my internet connection every few minutes, it’s Friday and I have a thick stack of new J-Rock videos for you!

Bugy Craxone- “Iikagenna Blue”

Hello, darlings. Bugy Craxone has a charming new video in which they spell out the lyrics in cue cards and t-shirts. A lot of work went into timing this just to make you smile!

Gotch- “The Long Goodbye”

It’s been a while since I’ve cared for Asian Kung-Fu Generation, but Masafumi Gotoh’s solo project Gotch is a pleasant surprise. “The Long Goodbye” has a more chill approach than AKFG’s stuff and will be released as a 7″ for Record Store Day. Hopefully he’ll have a more substantial release in the future.

illion- “Beehive”

In other solo news, Radwimps’ Yojiro Noda has released his second illion video. “Beehive” is a creative piece with exploding fruits that swirl around like paint in this dusty studio apartment.

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J-Rock Fridays Vol. 67

March 23, 2012

12 new videos for the 12 districts of Panem. May the odds be ever in your favor lol!

Phono Tones- “The World Is Yours”

Did you know Asian Kung-Fu Generation’s drummer has an instrumental side project? Here’s their first PV starring a bunch of cute cats!

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This Month In J-Rock: October 2008

November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!  Thanks for taking the time out of your holiday to visit this little blog.  I’m majorly late on this month’s column.  I just haven’t been able to bring myself to write.  In the end I had to cut a few releases to review but I still left them in the poll.  Last month’s poll was a tie between OLIVIA’s Trinka Trinka and Zazen Boys’ Zazen Boys 4.  Three votes each.  Kind of sad.  But anyway, I brought  back the rating system:

(-) bad

(1/2*) okay

(*) great

THE SINGLES

Asian Kung-Fu Generation- Fujisawa loser

Once again, the new AKFG single is outshined by it’s b-side.  “Hello Hello” is a duet with Rachel Haden of The Rentals who originally performed the song.  It’s a treat to hear Masafumi Goto sing in English, without stumbling over the words, with the sexy Haden.  I wouldn’t mind hearing more of these collaborations in the future.  “Fujisawa Loser” isn’t bad but doesn’t bring anything new to their indie rock table.  The PV for it is hilariously bizarre, though.  (1/2*)

Doping Panda- majestic dancer feat. VERBAL (m-flo)

This is Doping Panda’s second collaboration with the hip hop group m-flo.  “Majestic Dancer” is your standard Doping Panda single with VERBAL’s rapping inserted in the middle of song.  The b-side “chi chi pa pa” returns to the more laid back style on their earlier albums with a slight R&B flavor.  The single ends in “Mugendai Dance Time,” a pointless 30 minute track that mashes together several songs from Doping Panda’s career with a robotic voice chanting “Mugendai Dance Time” in-between.  I’m not quite sure why this was included.  (1/2*)


THE MINI-ALBUMS

Art-School- Illmatic Baby

Art-School shows a major shift in direction with the release of “Illmatic Baby.”  These guys have clearly listened to Metro Station’s “Shake It” on repeat.  “Illmatic Baby” dances it up with the broken English chorus “Shake hip, clap your hands, move your body,” with each phrase being echoed.  I don’t know what these guys were thinking.  However, it has definitely grown on me after watching their laughable PV for it. The remaining five songs transfer back to Art-School’s softer style.  The second song and “Broken White” are great but the others are too slow for my taste.  (1/2*)


The Feather Side- Scenes From a Lull in the Rain

The Feather Side is a piano driven indie rock band. They list Mae as an influence, so it suddenly becomes clear why the album cover reminds me of Destination Beautiful.  Unfortunately, they are not as good as Mae. Their English is horrible and they come off as whiny emo kids.  “Am 4.19,” the only song in Japanese, is the best song on here and ends in a nice instrumental. (-)
http://www.myspace.com/thefeatherside


Holstein- Teleology

Combining punk and hardcore, Holstein is similar to 9mm Parabellum Bullet or Nature Living.  Their English is bad but much more bearable than The Feather Side’s.   “Farewell to Our Memories” starts off this EP with a bang followed by “Funeral March” which isn’t nearly as depressing as it sounds.  After a short interlude, they come back with the fast “Rene Descartes” followed by the slow building 7-minute  title track “Teleology.”  Holstein has potential to be the next big emo/scremo act of Japan.  (*)

http://www.myspace.com/holsteinweb



The Predators- Kiba wo Misero

In case you missed my Artist Spotlight, The Predators is the side project of Sawao Yamanaka of the pillows, JIRO of GLAY, and Shinpei Nakayama of STRAIGHTENER.  If you listened to The Predators and the pillows side by side, I doubt you’d be able to tell the difference between the two.  “Rock N’ Roll Lay Down” and “Shoot the Moon” are insanely catchy while the other tracks are fairly aggressive.  “C.R.S. (Come on Ramones)” is an odd-ball song, even though this is apparently a Ramones tribute, much of the bass lines sound identical to Nirvana’s “Smell Like Teen Spirit.”  This is only The Predators second EP.  Although Sawao Yamanaka has done little to distinguish it from his main project, they are still a great listen.  (*)

http://www.myspace.com/thepredatorsofjapan

THE ALBUMS


9mm Parabellum Bullet- Vampire

This is 9mm’s second full-length album including the invigorating single “Wanderland,” the theme song from the anime REAL DRIVE.  It seems that their sound has grown faster but more melodic at the same time.  “Vampiregirl” is brooding in the verses but has a great pop chorus.  “Hide & Seek” is my new favorite 9mm song.  The drumming is some of the fastest I’ve heard and the screaming some of the best I’ve heard this year.  It’s followed up by the second best song on the album, “The Revenge of Surf Queen,” a three-minute instrumental that has a modest but not overbearing surf-sound.  The album ends with “Living Dying Message” that culminates in intense screaming.  This is a very solid album, better than their debut, Termination. (*)

http://www.myspace.com/9mmparabellumbullet


The Captains- I Love GS (US Release)

It is evident by now that The Captains love group sounds.  It is their mission to keep the spirit of group sounds in the hearts and minds of the Japanese people.  Thankfully, Tokyo no Records is bringing the group sounds to America.  Group sounds was a style of music popular during the 60s in Japan similar to The Beatles.  Members of the band were expected to dress in identical, stylish outfits.  I Love GS is a 10-song cover album of classic GS songs by bands such as The Spiders and Blue Comets.  “Tunnel to Heaven” appeared on Tokyo no Records’ Last Group Sounds release but all the other tracks are new.  Unfortunately, I’m just not feeling this album as much as Last Group Sounds.  Just like their outfits, most of the songs sound identical, which is probably the reason why GS died.  (-)

http://www.myspace.com/thecaptainsofficialmyspace


Comeback My Daughters- EXPerience

Unarguably the most misleading album cover of the month.  If you expected heavy techno tracks after seeing disco girl on the cover, you would be wrong.  Comeback My Daughters is a folk rock band on Pizza of Death Records.  Not that that’s a bad thing.  This is the second best album of the month.  The band sings entirely in English, most of which is understandable.  “Hot Chinkee,” “Vice & Vice,”  and “Eternal Cheep” are my favorite songs and”Bored Rigid” which includes a nice banjo. With this release, they are officially on my list of best indie bands. (*)

http://www.myspace.com/comebackmydaughters

Deerhoof- Offend Maggie (US RELEASE)

Based in San Francisco, Offend Maggie is Deerhoof’s 12th full-length album.  Unlike last year’s more aggressive and punk sounding Friendship Opportunity, Offend Maggie centers more on instrumentation and melody.  Led by female vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki, lyrics are switched from English to Japanese frequently but always sound cute.  My favorite track is “Basket Ball Get Your Grove Back” with its repetive lyrics “Go go champions! Be be champions!”  Lyrics are almost always silly like that.  Deerhoof is well respected in the American indie scene.  It puzzles me how similar bands like Luminous Orange or Mass of the Fermenting Dregs have not been able to gain attention in America.  Probably because they’re 100% Japanese.  (1/2*)

http://www.myspace.com/deerhoof


Various Artists- METAL-IKKA (Tribute to Metallica)

Let’s face it, the only reason I listened to this was because of BEAT CRUSADERS and Polysics.  I couldn’t care less for Metallica.  But I do love my Japanese tribute albums.  Out of all the tracks on this album, the only songs I’ve heard the original for were “Sad But True,” “St. Anger,” and “Fuel.” BEAT CRUSADERS’ cover is “One” is great.  The muffled rapping and Toru Hidaka’s low grumbles are amusing.  Polysics’ “Enter Sandman” is much more industrial than any of their other songs but is great to drive to.  2side1BRAIN’s cover of “St. Anger” is an amusing punk/emo cover that will surely piss off Metallica fans.  9mm Parabellum Bullet’s “Motorbreath” sounds like an authentic 9mm song and Razor’s Edge’s “Creeping Death” has a fun ska vibe.  Unfortunately, none of the other bands on this compilation do much with the original material.  Some are a little punkier but are still metal songs.  Just like all tribute albums,  METAL-IKKA proved to be half good-half bad.  (1/2*)

PICK OF THE MONTH


VOLA & THE ORIENTAL MACHINE- Halan’na-ca Darkside

It’s debatable whether this is an EP or album, since half of the 9 tracks are interludes, but this is still my favorite VOLA release.  Halan’na starts off with a dancey intro with loud bass then merges into “self-defense” which in turn merges into “An imatation’s superstar.”  Just like last album’s “Mexico Pub,” “An imatation’s superstar” is near flawless.  It starts with shaking drums and the vocals are spot on.  After another interlude, “soft genocide” starts up which is my second favorite track.  “Double Standard” and “Internal Division” are great too.  The interludes really merged this album together as a cohesive whole and it’s hard to not listen to this straight through.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR NEXT MONTH

Acidman- I Stand Free:  New single release.

Ami Suzuki- Supreme Show:  Double dose of Nakata this month!  Contains all the Ami singles and b-sides released since DOLCE.  Should be a more dance driven album.

avengers in sci-fi- SCIENCE ROCK: Sophomore effort by the electro-rockers.  Also, my second most anticipated for the month.

capsule- More! More! More!: What can I say.  From the album previews this might be damn near flawless.

Dir en grey- Uroboros: New album from the metal gods.

dustbox- Blooming Harvest: Recommended for fans of ELLEGARDEN.

Envy/Thursday- Split: I will save this for next month after all 🙂

Gackt- Jesus: I’m getting a HYDE feeling from this…

HALCALI- Long Kiss Goodbye: They are adorable.  New single, recently released as the end theme for Naruto Shippuden.

Oceanlane- Look Inside the Mirror: New single from the British sounding rockers.  Still don’t understand how they’re not worldwide sensations by now.

Spangle call Lilli line- Purple: I’ve become such a fan of this band after ISOLATION, unfortunately that was after I wrote This Month in J-Rock: September.

the telephones- Love Disco: As a Christian, I take offense at the album art they are using for this.  That and I have heard the song on myspace and it’s not disco at all.

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This Month in J-Rock: June 2008

July 1, 2008

My latest attempt at a listen and review article. The plan is to post one of these at the end of every month with my opinions on this month’s releases. In addition, at the end of every post you will find my “hype” list for the following month. However, thanks to Wizard World and Wall-E last weekend this first one has come a little late! But enjoy it anyway. Comments, etc. would be appreciated. I added myspace pages where available so you can listen to the artist. I was going to post videos but youtube deletes them the day after I post them so…why bother. Any release with a (*) after the review is highly recommended.

THE SINGLES

DOPING PANDA- Beautiful Survivor

DOPING PANDA’s latest single comes 3 months after their 3rd full length album Dopamaniacs. “Beautiful Survivor” is your typical Dopan song with sweeping synth beats and a catchy chorus. The b-side “We say we love each other” has a more laid back r&b style. Over-all, this isn’t a groundbreaking single that brings DOPING PANDA into new musical territory like “Miracle” or “I’ll Be There” did but will undoubtedly please the fan’s fix.

http://www.myspace.com/dopingpanda

Genki Rockets- Star Line/Smile

And then it dawned it on me half way through “Smile,” Genki Rockets sounds a lot like Hilary Duff. The lyrics are cheesy and sound like it was written by a pre-teen. Yeah I was a little disappointed with this one. Last summer, this “computer experiment” released the really great “Heavenly Star” and “Breeze” singles which had a great techno beat and were super happy. Although “Smile” was a let down, “Star Line” was pretty great. The song has a rock beat but has a very catchy chorus. The remixes are fun but absolutely forgettable. Their first full-length is supposed to come out tomorrow so I still have hope.

http://www.myspace.com/genkirockets

NICO Touches the Walls- The Bungy

A random download worth noting. “The Bungy” is a really fun song with a lot of handclaps and country twanging. The b-side “Simon Said” is much slower with a lot more emphasis on vocals. The band hasn’t released a full length album yet but have another new single coming out in August. They’ve been put on my radar. (*)

THE ALBUMS

Asian Kung-Fu Generation- Imada Minu Asu Ni

Arriving three months after their last full-length album, I didn’t see this coming. Seriously. I just found it randomly on my torrent site and assumed it was an old release with higher bit rate. Oh well. This mini-album compiles 6 b-sides from World, World, World. It sounds a lot like their old songs but none of them are very distinguishing or memorable. I can see why they were left on the cutting room floor.

ketchup mania- F.L.A.G.

I came into this album expecting ska but what I got was uber fast punk rock with a tint of metal. Songs here are simple with repetitious lyrics but that’s not a bad thing. Many songs such as “BAD! BAD! BAD!,” “Please! Marry Me,” and “Just a Mess!” essentially repeat the title of the song over and over. Now that you mention it, half the songs have an exclamation point in their title! Song’s like “Ping-Pong” venture into metal territory and sounds similar to Maximum the Hormone. It’s hard not to smile when listening to this album. From track one, Ketchup Mania has never backed down on this album. Each song is faster and catchier than the one before it. With their increased exposure in America, I think we can expect great things from them in the future. (*)

http://www.myspace.com/ketchupmaniajf

Locofrank- BRAND-NEW OLD-STYLE

As the album title implies, if you expected anything less than the sweet pop-punk they’ve always made, you’re a fool. The new album continues with their full Engrish vocals that are more incomprehensible than ever. Seriously, if an English speaking population can’t make sense of your lyrics, why bother? It just sounds a lot like whining.

http://www.myspace.com/locofrank

The Novembers- Picnic

Gotta love picnics. A smorgasbord or sandwiches, cheeses, bread, etc. Simply put, The Novembers debut album brings nothing unique to the picnic table. It’s the same J-rock song over and over. It doesn’t get interesting until the singer starts screaming half-way through the ninth track. As disappointed as I was, I gotta give props to the artist who drew the album cover for this and their debut EP. Very neat.

http://www.myspace.com/thenovembers11

Perfect Piano Lesson- Terra Incognita

I have to say, I was disappointed the first time I listened to this band. Perhaps because their song titles implied “dance band” and what I got was “indie rock.” I’m proud to say my opinion of perfect piano lesson has changed dramatically with this release. They have took on a post-rock atmosphere with this latest mini-album. Actually, they remind me of one of my greatest J-Rock finds from last year–eksperimentoj. Although piano’s songs are shorter, both bands sing in ok English and have great guitar work (and they both have an epic 7-minute track by the name “untitled”). “Death At the Library” is great and I love the gang vocals on “Electric City.” (*)

http://www.myspace.com/perfectpianolesson

the pillows- Pied Piper

Just because you’re signed to a major label doesn’t mean you have to make shitty pop music! “I am scarecrowoh,” remember that horror of a tune from their last album? Well, luckily the pillows realized it was shit and moved back to their rock n’ roll roots with PIED PIPER. This is such a dramatic improvement it has actually rejuvenated my interest in the band and they’re one of my favorites again. The album contains the singles “New Surrender,” “Ladybird Girl,” and my favorite, the heavy ska influenced “Tokyo Bambi” featuring the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra. In addition we get another great instrumental named “Tokyo Zombie” and even a little cello in “Last Holiday.” My other favorite is easily the hand clap laden “Purple Apple” which has been on repeat the past few days. (*)

http://www.myspace.com/thepillows

PICK OF THE MONTH

BEAT CRUSADERS-popdod

What a surprise, he chose the new BEAT CRUSADERS album as the pick of the month? Indeed. Coming a year after their last album, EPopMaking, and after only one single (wasn’t it like 5 or 6 last time?) “Winterlong,” this came as quite a surprise. Popdod celebrates the 10th anniversary of the band as well as Toru Hidaka’s 40th birthday. The album starts off with their latest single “Time Flies, Everything Goes,” a feel good song. In fact, they all are. If you’ve ever listened to the band before, you’ll know to expect. My favorite songs are “Work It Out,” the traditional 1 experimental techno song per BECR album, and “Chinese Jet Song,” which has a great call and response chorus. “Summer End” is a bit more mainstream rock, and feels similar to past songs “Say Goodnight” or “Zenith.” The album ends with “Jive” whose style hails back to their good old indie days.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR NEXT MONTH

Electrico- We Satellites: Third full length album. Considering that I haven’t been able to find their first two albums legally or illegally, I doubt I will be able to review this.

ELLEGARDEN- ELLEGARDEN BEST (1999-2008 ): Weak. Very Weak. First off, it should be titled “1999-2006” since they haven’t released anything since Eleven Fire Crackers. You will be missed.

enie meenie- Fantasy of Life: At least this band will carry ELLEGARDEN’s torch. Semi-cheesy pop-punk with neat synthesizers. They remind me of old school Motion City Soundtrack.

GALLOW- TOO VIRGIN!!: This band is in one way, shape, or form related to Toru Hidaka of BEAT CRUSADERS. Therefore it must be good.

GENKI ROCKETS- I -Heavenly Star-: This has been delayed several months now so we’ll see.

Saw Loser- Hits Hit the Fan: These guys have been blowing up around Asia the past few years. This album contains 10 classic cover songs such as “You’re Beautiful” and “Fly Me to the Moon.”

Versailles- Noble: “OMG, he’s excited about a visual-kei band?” Yeah…I was shocked too. This is their 2nd shot at a “full-length” album. They remembered “The Revenant Choir” this time.

See you next month!

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Asian Kung-Fu Generation

March 6, 2008

Asian Kung-Fu Generation’s new album World World World is a keeper.  It contains the two singles, “After Dark” from Bleach and “Aru Machi No Gunjo”from Tekkon Kinkreet.  The single for “Korogaru Iwa, Kimi ni Asa ga Furu” was released last month and surprisingly hasn’t been picked up for an anime theme…yet.  My favorite track on the album however is “Night Diving” which includes duel vocals with Goto and guitarist Kita.  I’ve been gay for Kita’s vocals since “Uso no Wonderland,” hopefully he’ll get to sing some more tracks in the future.

After Dark

Korogaru Iwa, Kimi ni Asa ga Furu

Aru Machi No Gunjo

(enjoy the videos before youtube deletes them again…assholes.)