Archive for the ‘Noughts and Exes’ Category

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Free Christmas Music Roundup 2011

December 24, 2011

Ho ho ho! It’s that time of year when people give out presents to people they like. And since I’d probably get in trouble for uploading music on my own, I’ll just link you to the bands who want you to take their holiday tunes. Hurry! Most of these links expire by the end of the year.

the guitar plus me- Decemblues

  1. Shoplifter and Santa Claus
  2. Christmas Gift Christmas Grift

Marybelle- Happy Christmas

  1. Happy Christmas
  2. Silent Night
  3. She Walks in Beauty

Side project of Arai Tasuku and nica.

Otokaze & hafuka- Sound of North

  1. Otokaze- “Memory of December”
  2. hafuka- “Ano Kaze”
  3. hafuka- 儚きもの
  4. Otokaze- “Snow Campus”

Various Artists- Season’s Greetings

  1. Obrigados feat. NASA- “Season’s Greetings”
  2. TGMX- “Remember the Love”
  3. 櫛引彩香TRIO- “Daydream Believer”
  4. Keishi Tanaka-“On and On”
  5. moe a.k.a. miila- “Son of a Gun”
  6. Chabe- “Can’t Take Eyes Off You”
  7. TICA- “Moon River”
  8. Swingset- “Afterward…”

world’s end boyfriend- Xmas Song 2011

  1. Very Merry Happy
  2. Planetarium Ghost Train
  3. Jaichel Mackson
  4. Miss Piggy
  5. Merry Sun No He Two G
  6. Self Sale Fantasia
  7. Stardust Melody Fair
  8. Rotten Pig Parade
  9. Honeymoon

Singles:

D.J.Fulltono- “JTW X’Mas”

EeL- “Snow World Under the White Moon”

Jintana & Emeralds- “Last Christmas”

Love and Hates- “I Wanna Kill”

noughts and exes- “Wrong”

Shonen Knife- “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”

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J-Rock Fridays: Best of 2010

December 24, 2010

Hey, those polls meant something!  Here’s your top voted videos for 2010.  The final 14 videos had a total of 5 votes or more.  I felt sorry for those with only 4 votes so they made the runners-up list.  Honestly, there were a lot of great videos with even less votes than that so I decided to make a personal list in the future.  Vote for your top 3 videos of the year and I’ll give the winner a “fan favorite” award!

0.8秒と衝撃。- ビートニクキラーズ

The pants-dropping 0.8syooogeki had the most voted video.  Definitely one of the craziest videos I’ve seen this year.  If no one votes this week consider them the default winner!

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J-Rock Fridays Vol. 33

November 12, 2010

So after last week’s Halloween excursion (which had a low turnout—last time I’m doing anything special), I had a surplus of videos.  Maybe they’ll spill into next week, cause I’m tired.

noughts and exes- “The Start Of Us”

Noughts and exes adapt a childhood art-class assignment for the title-track of their sophomore album.  It’s somewhat unsettling but strangely fits this beautiful track.  Let’s hope Pepsi doesn’t get wind of this.

myspace.com/noughtsandexes Buy @ bandcamp, their website

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Stuff To Look Forward To, November 2010

November 10, 2010

Ah November.  The time of the year when releases begin to trickle down along with my willingness to blog about them.  But there’s still some good stuff coming out

Kimonos- Kimonos

Kimonos is the side project of Leo Imai and the Zazen Boys’ Shutoku Mukai.  The fact that their names rhyme is coincidence.  So far Kimonos have put out two singles.  “Almost Human” has more of a laid back rock sound while “Soundtrack to Murder” is a little out there.  They describe the album as futuristic and nostalgic, a “fitting soundtrack to the manic intensity of Tokyo City.” (myspace)

The Brixton Academy- L.O.T

Spoiler alert!  TBA’s 80s tinged debut album Vivid will probably top my end of the year list.  But it was a bit on the short side so they’ll be releasing this 3-track EP to end the year.  It took a bit of sleuthing to find this as the band still hasn’t “announced” it yet.  Both listings I found list L.O.T. as  a 2-disc release, so I would expect a DVD with a PV or two. (myspace)

noughts and exes- The Start Of Us

Just when I thought I’d never hear this, they posted a bandcamp link on their Facebook last night.  Noughts and exes is a Hong Kong indie-rock band led by Joshua Wong of Whence He Came.  Their sophomore album boasts a new lineup and was produced by Martijn Groeneveld—the same guy who does buddhistson! (myspace)

Detroit Metal City

Amai, Amai, Amai, Amai, ko-i-bi-to. Detroit Metal City is finally available on DVD in the US!  Grab a copy and cuddle up with your sweet sweet lover and a plate of cheese tarts.  DMC is the tale of one Soichi Negishi who longs to create Swedish pop music but spends his nights as the emperor of death metal.  He’s kind of a mental case.  But hilarious!  And yes, that’s Kenichi Matsuyama, the guy that plays L on Death Note.

Buy Kimonos @ CD Japan, Jet Set, Play-Asia

Buy L.O.T. @ CD Japan, Jet Set

Buy The Start Of Us @ bandcamp, their website

Buy Detroit Metal City @ Amazon.com, RightStuf

Secondary Excitement

about tess- Song of the Bird: One of the first bands signed to world’s end girlfriend’s label Virgin Babylon and now their second release.  Song of the Bird is a 74-minute track told in four acts that reveals the journey of a bird.  (myspace) Buy @ CD Japan, Unsupermarket

Crystal Lake- Into The Great Beyond: Does this album have great cover art or what?  (myspace) Buy @ Big Cartel, CD Japan

dustbox- Starbow: Thus marks 10 years of punk rock with dustbox.  Both singles so far have bored me but they can pull an album out of their ass by now.  (myspace) Buy @ CD Japan

Fear, And Loathing In Las Vegas- Dance & Scream:  At this point I think I like them more for their name.  They would be a hit with the Hot Topic crowd.  (myspace)

Kaji Hideki and Riddim Saunter- Teens Film: Hey, it’s the guy who sang “Amai Koibito”!  And he recorded an album with Riddim Saunter!  Buy @ CD Japan

Man With A Mission- Welcome To The New World: MWAM won me over with their awesome wolf masks and their occasionally dancey tunes. (myspace) Buy @ CD Japan

Meaning- Brave New World:  The drummer from Ellegarden joined a hardcore band?  And they want to fuck the world? (myspace) Buy @ CD Japan

Perfume- Ne:  It’s a sad state of affairs when Nakata puts more effort in Perfume than his own group.  Buy @ CD Japan, Play-Asia

sleepy.ab- Kakurenbo: New single…enough said? (myspace) Buy @ CD Japan, Play-Asia

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noughts and exes is mixing

August 16, 2010

Looks like noughts and exes just wrapped up mixing their followup to Act One, Scene One.  Joshua Wong was nice enough to record his adventures in Holland with producer Martijn Groeneveld (buddhistson), riding bikes in Utrecht, going to the DJ Shadow show, buying cheese, and occasionally working.  Hopefully we’ll hear some new songs soon.

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noughts & exes is back

October 24, 2009

It’s hard being an overseas fan of HK indie music.  Bands can break up and reform and we’d be none the wiser.  Such is the case with noughts & exes.  Shortly after the release of their debut album (released last year by Omerta Group), Joshua and Gideon were the only band members left.  But earlier this year they reformed with a random white dude and two attractive women.  I learned all of this on Facebook in the last hour.

Joshua and Gideon decided to rebuild the band from the ground up and focus on a more intimate and natural sound.  The new line-up consists of Kerrie-Ann on vocals and glockenspiel, Marianne on cello, and Alex on drums.  The band is currently writing new songs and is set to play the Clockenflap festival. Below is a new song from the band:

http://www.myspace.com/noughtsandexes

http://www.facebook.com/noughtsandexesmusic

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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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Noughts and Exes- Act One, Scene One

April 27, 2008

Is it too soon to say album of the year? I received my copy of noughts and exes’ Act One, Scene One yesterday and am just as floored as when I heard Joshua Wong’s first project, Whence He Came.  The music is a little more subdued than WHC with a mellow soft rock flavor.  My favorite tracks are “Breathe,” “Anything in You,” and “Flight Over Falling” among many others.  The album can be streamed on Virb and ordered at CDBaby.com.

http://www.myspace.com/noughtsandexes

http://www.myspace.com/omertagrouprecords

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Noughts and Exes—a reason to flee…

October 9, 2007

Omerta Group Records has added a new Noughts and Exes track on their myspace, “A Reason To Flee.”  They have officially announced on myspace that they will be releasing Noughts and Exes debut album Act One Scene One early 2008.

http://www.myspace.com/noughtsandexes

http://www.myspace.com/omertagrouprecords

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Noughts and Exes signed?

September 12, 2007

Omerta Group Records has added Noughts and Exes’ “A Minor to a Major” to their myspace player.  Noughts and Exes is the side-project from Joshua Wong, the lead singer of Whence He Came. The song comes from their debut album Act One Scene One and is listed for a 2008 release.

http://www.myspace.com/omertagrouprecords

http://www.myspace.com/noughtsandexes