Sunday, December 10, 2017

Cokeberry - All My Life


Cokeberry - All My Life
Love Lite / Stone Fox PCCA-01051
1996.12.16

I remember seeing the name Cokeberry around from time to time way back in the early days, i think it may have even been part of someone's screen name on various online communities, but i had actually never listened to them until i picked up this and another release of theirs. I kinda always had a notion that they were poppy in my head, but i was pretty wrong. instead we get jazzy groovy indie rock with a female vocalist with some smooth and juicy melodies. There is something about these songs where they are like almost always right on the edge of getting really good, exceptional, but they never quite fall off that ledge. there are some really catchy moments with the vocals. some great choruses and whatnot. there is some kind of restraint on this album that leaves you wanting just that little extra umph. a damn solid release though.

Buy It.


Love Attack Eve - Tasogare Classics


Love Attack Eve - Tasogare Classics
Sucre. SCPN-18
2005.01.25

The Sucre. label was home to a few pretty important indie pop groups so I went on a mission to get as many of their releases as i could, hoping for a few underground gems. This one by Love Attack Eve is very minimalist indie.. very mellow, coffee shop cafe sort of stuff. Its peaceful, mellow and warm, but without a whole lot of attractive pull to it. Track 3 (タソガレンアイ) would make it into a feel-good indie playlist as it has a little more life to it and some catchy qualities, but the rest of the album, to me, feels a little stale. But you can be the judge of that.

Buy It.


Star Fix - Star Fix



Star Fix - Star Fix
Atlantic 32L2-0040
1989.01.25

I am always game for checking out 80's and 90's artists that i've never heard of or seen anywhere else. Often times I will find some really cool stuff. Sometimes I get generic garbage. Star Fix definitely qualifies as the generic garbage type. Its very pop rock. steeped in all the cliches of stuff you'd see on 80's entertainment shows like.. Star Search.. you remember that shit? or just look up 80's pop videos from japan on youtube.. you know, all those shows where the group is standing on some studio stage lip synching to some generic shit? that's Star Fix. not much goin on here! but who knows.. maybe someone else out there is into this shit. i mean, i know they are, cuz those videos i was talking about have thousands of views. so you should pick this one up, whoever you weirdos are.

Buy It.


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Milla Noriko - Sweet Drugs

Milla Noriko - Sweet Drugs
NEC Avenue NACL-1060
1992.03.21

Here's one you've never heard. And you need to. This is, in this humble music lover's opinion, what i consider to be a near perfect pop album. NEC Avenue was home to some pretty important releases, and some stuff that was sort of on the fringe of pop, but a little darker, more thoughtful, less worried about paint by numbers and more about actually expressing themselves (ie. the amazing Crayon-sha). This album just hits a vibe that isn't easy to explain, but its powerful. if i ever get some spare time i'll look more into milla noriko and who might have been behind this release... but i don't have that time right now. just know that you need to put this on your to-do list asap.

Buy It. 


~Cinema[S'trip]~ - Virgin Hurt

~Cinema[S'trip]~ - Hurt
Zenit Music Factory AZMF-3039
2009.04.04

Zenit Music Factory is one of those labels that i'll try to get every release they've put out. Primarily due to my obsessive love with beaU. The guys in this group seem to be fairly isolated. i don't know much about them, but it seems like they weren't in other groups, which we all know is unusual for visual kei bands. But they stuck around for a few years and made some damn good songs. This one starts with a riff-heavy tune that has some good hook, but then they kinda fall flat for the next two songs in my opinion. They try to get some of that Merry groove going on in the third track but it feels somewhat uninspired. They get a little heavier for the last three tracks with track 5 definitely being the most aggressive and catchy, with thick guitar riffs and one of the more interesting vocal efforts on the album. Tracks 1, 5 & 6 could definitely be welcome additions to a rock the shit out playlist with groups like girugamesh.

Buy It.


Killing Time - Filling Time With Killing Time

Killing Time - Filling Time With Killing Time
Epic 30・8H-5107
1989.07.21

This is an interesting album. Thrown under the Prog Rock label, the album, while certainly containing many qualities of prog rock and fueled by some serious geniuses, is so mellow and fluid that it almost feels more like you are listening to a soundtrack rather than a rock album. this could easily be a late night listen after a few cocktails as you drift off into dreamland, or a quiet lazy sunday afternoon with a cup of tea. Some of Japan's most accomplished musicians rock in this band, and it shows with just how easy this record sounds. cuz trust me, there is nothing easy about it. Incredible album


Buy It.



Saturday, December 2, 2017

Simone Fukayuki - La Beaute Et La Crime

Simone Fukayuki - La Beaute Et La Crime
Bron Records BRON S-2
1992.12.25

Many of us who were around for the golden age of blogging about japanese music got a taste of Simone Fukayuki's "Josephine" 7" record. Well i'm here to tell you that there is an entire album of majestic, sensual, delicious music for you to devour. I've actually uncovered two of his (or her, depending on how you want to look at it) albums pressed on cd.. you can find them both on discogs presently. This one definitely stands out though. It is a perfect hybridization of what my brain wants to imagine as a sort of traditional japanese theater sound with french chanson music. The whole album is steeped in equal measures of magic, majesty and machismo. if that doesn't tempt you, not a damn thing will. an absolute pleasure to listen to. should be house music for a smokey, dimly lit, high class gentleman's club. essential listening.

Buy It.


Stay - Dangerous Zone

Stay - Dangerous Zone
Columbia CA-4209
1989.11.01

This was a random grab.. i can't help but dig through the pits of 80's and 90's releases and just see what happens. This one is pretty paint-by-number pop rock, but also very much all over the place stylistically. Its a full group with a female vocalist. think along the lines of Pink Sapphire, Princess Princess, but really generic. There are some more colorful moments though, that go in totally different directions, like track 3's Let's Go To Heaven gets pretty rock'n'roll, maybe even Magenda-esque, with some more aggressive vocals. Track 4 is like an acoustic guitar ballad.. or somethin, i dunno. but its pretty rad.  then we go back to really basic pop. then some more pop rock.. i dunno. they couldn't make up what kind of tunes they wanted to make! If you really want to explore the full depths of the 80's and 90's japanese pop rock scene, this album is certainly worth adding to your ever-growing playlist.

Buy It.


Pepino & Shaba - Teke Teke Tenshi


Pepino & Shaba - Teke Teke Tenshi
Vavan Media Inc. ‎– H00W20101
1989.04.12

I was digging through the bins and found this album cover that caught my attention.. and when in doubt, youtube will tell you if its something you might be interested in. i searched, found this video, and immediately added them to my cart.



well, the cd opens with a pretty generic sort of introduction track where they seem to be talking about themselves. its playful but not particularly interesting.  then the real fun starts. what follows are 5 tracks of pure awesomeness. it reminds me of when i first heard Nanaki's Mahalik Halili and immediately fell in love. so i keep spinning this album. on my fourth trip through right now. It is in the ballpark of Mahalik and Yuusei Mints, maybe a splash of Yukiseimeitai. Everything we love about oddball 80's female popwave stuff. This gets my highest recommendation on the shit you've never heard but should chart. Pepino is cute and her voice does tremendous work here, sounding daring and suggestive. And the band is fucking funky as hell. I need to know if these guys were in other groups. I wouldn't be surprised to find out they were in some serious outfits that we are all familiar with, cuz they got talent.

Buy It.


Friday, December 1, 2017

Tomoyo Harada - Next Door

Tomoyo Harada - Next Door
Kadokawa Records ‎– 32DH 209
1986.06.28

The only Tomoyo Harada I had heard prior to this album was one from the 90's that was sort of mellow acoustic type alternative and it was really nice. i figured maybe her 80's stuff might be a little new-wavey or a little pop rock or something and that i should give it a try. well, this album at least is just full on pop. and i'm sorry, but i just can't do it. i sampled each track, and i couldn't get past the first chorus in any of them. I'm sorry tomoyo-chan.. i just can't handle this one.

Buy It.


Go-Bang's - Dangerous Charms

Go-Bang's - Dangerous Charms
RCA BVCR-623
1993.06.23

This album certainly doesn't feel dangerous or particularly charming. In fact it feels pretty uninspired in the beginning. it does have some highlights though, which i'm glad i stuck around for. While it starts with a bland-feeling paint by the numbers blend of girls garage rock and 50's doo-wop style pop (which might sound good as a description, but when its bland and uninspired, its not), the middle tracks do have some vibe.. hitting a more soulful malt shop track with ラブ・ショック at track 5, followed by two songs with a more guitar driven, surfy, rockabilly-esque sound. Track 9'sビューティフルーティー has a more barbershop, a capella style vocal line that gives it a little bit of energy and 10's 狂った天使 gets a little grungy, alternative rock style, which might actually be the best track on the album. No, it's definitely the best track on the album. a standout for sure. The album closes in an unexpected piano track that feels significantly more intimate than the rest of the album and features a beautiful vocal line.

Buy It.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Geinoh Yamashirogumi - Chi No Hibiki

Geinoh Yamashirogumi - Chi No Hibiki
Invitation VDR-1493
1976

Technical details upfront, this 1988 pressing that I have adds some extra tracks from their 1981 album Byzantine No Hibiki to fill up space, and also because the two flow seamlessly together. Its no secret that everyone who knows Geinoh knows them because of Akira. I just find myself thinking... how fucking fortunate we are that some crazy dude in that anime studio said, hey, you know what we should do for the soundtrack? and poof... the rest is history. because, i mean.. really.. how else would any of us have heard a japanese choral album like this?  have any of you found any others? i know i haven't. and i have 11,000 japanese cds and god knows how many digital ones. and geinoh is the only one. so thank you crazy anime studio for putting geinoh into akira and giving us one of the craziest things we've ever heard. As for this release, this is PURELY choral. none of the crazy instrumentation or sound effects that we love so much from the soundtrack or the ecophony series. but the choral work here is so stunning and beautiful that it simply doesn't need any instrumentation.

Buy It.


Monday, November 27, 2017

RC Succession - Marvy

RC Succession - Marvy
Eastworld CT38-5145
1988.02.25

I don't know a lot about The RC Succesion (written a multitude of ways), and i am abashedly unfamiliar with their catalogue. but i know they formed in the late 60's and actually had a pretty stable membership right up until 1991, just three years after this album. the only major change was their original guitarist checking out in '77 and being replaced by Chabo for the remainder of their tenure. i also recognize Gee2wo, who was their keyboardist for over a decade.. the amazing underground label Transistor Record released a solo album of his. I hadn't realized he was a member of RC Succession until just now. In fact that album was released immediately after he left RCS (1 year before the group disbanded). As for this album.. the first track got me pretty excited for a moody 80's record with a sort of daring atmosphere with some cool 80's synths and some playful guitar licks and a lot of reverb. very cool vocal line. almost like a david bowie and oingo boingo baby.. but maybe more subdued. but the rest of the album immediately retreated to more standard rock'n'roll.. less 80's motifs. there is some soul to those songs from place to place (tracks 7 and 8 in particular.. and Gibson (Chabo's Blues) as well) and i'd say this is a pretty solid album.

Buy It.


The Street Beats - Standing Standing

The Street Beats - Standing Standing
Invitation VICL-158
1991.05.21

The Street Beats have always felt like they should be a pretty essential Rock 'N Roll group to me. I've dug up a fair number of their cds. But I always end up having a hard time picking out individual songs that feel like those essential tracks. The vibe of The Street Beats is absolutely classic, with that bad boy rock 'n roll mixed with a punky riff strumming. But there's something kind of homogenous about their songs that lets one song bleed into the next without you taking much notice. Now, i'm quite certain that one of their albums had a few songs that really floored me, i just don't remember which album, or which songs.... see what i mean? i will never hesitate to say yes, The Street Beats rock.. but can i give you a hesitation-less song recommendation? unfortunately, no. This album is a prime example of what i'm talking about. enjoyed every minute of it.. but i can't point to a track and say, 'this one'.

Buy It.


C.Memi - My Song Anzu Monogatari

C.Memi - My Song Anzu Monogatari
Phonicsight Records PS020101
2002.04.28

Another C.Memi cd pressing has surfaced out of nowhere. It is sort of hidden on discogs because of their ank vs alias system.. it doesn't show up on her primary release page.. you have to dig through some links to happen upon it. But i found it on a Japanese marketplace and then discovered it was buried on discogs after i ordered it. This one she is credited primarily as Memi instead of C.Memi.. i haven't taken the time to really read about the various lineups that these recordings have, but she seems to have been part of a few groups that i didn't know about, including 杏, which credits Memi and Kanako Kuwahara, and Windy Soup which has a full band lineup. there are also two classic C.Memi tracks from the Heavenly Peace EP. Why they only included two of the five tracks is anyone's guess. The lead track is a very quiet little vocal intro that was apparently recorded for the assembling of this compilation in 2002 and is very short and simple, but reflective and beautiful. The tracks done as 杏, which are stunningly recorded in 1973 have a much more classic folk rock type of sound. I had no idea that Memi had been a part of the music scene for so long.. when all the recordings you know about are new wave masterpieces from around '82, learning there are tracks from almost 10 years earlier in a more traditional music scene is kind of startling! I'm glad that she turned to the weird artsy new wave that she did in her C.Memi years, as that is certainly more my scene.. but these early recordings of the classic folk rock are very mellow and beautiful in their own right.

Buy It.


Tokyo Karankoron - 5 Nin No Entertainer

Tokyo Karankoron - 5 Nin No Entertainer
Avex Trax AVCD-38810
2013.11.27

I am definitely at a point in my life as a hard-working mature adult where happy upbeat music is much more appealing and more important to me than other kinds of music from my past, and that is going to color some of these blurbs. Tokyo Karankoron was a welcome addition to my collection. I was startled to hear an a capella opening track, which totally sets the mood for the whole album as colorful, playful and joyous. (talking about colorful, take a cook at that cover!). The mixture of female and male vocals is perfect. the piano is silky smooth. the guitar is flirtatious. synths are funky as hell. love "true!true!true!" feeling good about this album, and you should too.

Buy It.


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Rampant - Blossom

Rampant - Blossom
2010.10.27
Rich Bitch Records RBR-003

Part of the melodic female vocals metal-core wave... they are pretty good, but pretty standard stuff here. I definitely would have been more jazzed up by this stuff 10 years ago, but the heavy stuff doesn't hit me the same way it did in my youth. the melodies are nice.. quite beautiful really, but lack any real hook. same with the riffs... heavy, rhythmic, pounding, but falling kind of flat. just kinda generic. as you can see from the image, my copy's front artwork isn't in super great shape.. so buy with caution.

Buy It.


Makoto Ozone - Starlight

Makoto Ozone - Starlight
1990.03.21
Atlam VICJ-9

I learned of Makoto Ozone a long time ago through a friend who was into jazz.. He had done a series of albums as Makoto Ozone trio, i think here in the states with some american jazz musicians.. so my friend had those cds. I remember liking those discs quite a bit. when i found that he had done his own music in Japan years earlier i figured i'd check them out. Starlight is definitely more contemporary.. elevator style fusion jazz in moments. the first track turned me off and i was like, meh.... really sappy. but as soon as the second track started it got jazzier and groovier and i jumped in. if you kinda cringe at the smooth sounds of fusion and smooth jazz, this might not be for you. i'm right on the edge. but it does have some solid groove and relaxing flow throughout the album. i dig it quite a bit actually. good workin music.

Buy It.


Trash - Trash It Up

Trash - Trash It Up
1998.07.25
Night Gallery UKCR-1071

The Night Gallery label was sick. In the early years they supplied us with some serious underground new wave and up and coming metal and the murky gothic-esque stuff in between. Around 1990 they started pressing cds with a combination of these same sounds, some serving as repressings of their earlier vinyls. This cd came much later and it actually does not mention Night Gallery anywhere on it, but it uses the same UKCR catalogue system and two of the members of Trash were in Jango, who had their "It's Not Your Business" cd released by Night Gallery in 1991. I'm usually expecting a sort of generic hard rock from releases like this, and some of you may feel like that's what you are getting.. but i was actually pretty overwhelmed by the vibe here. the production is CRISP and these guys fucking rock. everyone is tight and locked in, the groove is happy and upbeat. It gives me vibes of Tri-forces' Heat Guy J soundtrack tunes, mixed with happy The Pillows vibes. If you put that in a hard rock blender you're doin alright. Dig deep. Find gems.

Buy It.


Basilisk Glance - At A Glance

Basilisk Glance - At A Glance
1998.03.11
BGL01-1

When you dig around in the pits of the 100 Yen bins (figuratively speaking) long enough you start turning up groups like Basilisk Glance. Definitely worthy members of the early wave vk movement. If you dig oldschool vk these guys have some bait on their hook. The group didn't contain anyone of any particular consequence that i am aware of. they didn't go on to be in 24 other groups, like many members of the vk scene do. But they did release a decent portfolio in a few years. Production is a little suspect on this release, with the vocals up front and a bit muddy or overpowering at times, like during the more aggressive "神聖化サレタ凌辱", and the drums sit way in the back, obviously digitally sequenced. guitar is a little fuzzy. but this is all charm of the sort of lo-fi diy low budget rock stars, you know? i can dig it. There are not many songs that jump out as stand-out singles here, but the overall vibe of the album as a whole is very satisfying, with lots of ups and downs and momentum and atmosphere.

Buy It.


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Kenji Endo - Kenji

Kenji Endo - Kenji
1974
Polydor POCH-1363

Maybe I only feel this way under the influence of the artwork, but listening to this album is like experiencing the birth of planets. Aside from a very upbeat, funk-laden opening track, the rest of the album plays out like a great folk story, drifting through happy dreams, bluesy ponderings, somber psychedelic ideas, and great mystic powers. If this album was a temple, i would worship at its steps. 



The Dick Spikie - Beginning Of The End


The Dick Spikie - Beginning Of The End
2003
Helen Of Oi! CAT.NO.H0042

Ruthless and moody, true punk to the max. deep open-throated growly vocals with plenty of chorus chants, more moody and plodding atmospheric guitar riffs than your typical two chord strummers. TDS gets an earmark as a prime example of one of my favorite punk sounds.

Buy It