I touched on this in the introduction to my Top 20 countdown of 2013’s best Japanese music, but let me just explain myself in a bit more detail. When evaluating and reviewing music, I try to be fair to the artists as well as personally honest, and then on top of that, I try to put everything into some sort of context. It’s a balancing act, but it’s a necessary one to try to make, even if it’s not always possible to carry it off perfectly. At the same time I am involved with a lot of different activities in the Japanese indie and underground scenes, including running my own small label, Call And Response Records. As a rule, I don’t write about Call And Response artists as often as and never in the same way I do other bands because obviously my relationship with the band means I’m compromised; however, there’s a paradox there because the fact that I poured so much of my own time, energy and money into these artists is directly down to how much I love them. That time, energy and money both compromises me and stands as testimony to my sincerity (although I realise that sincerity and honesty are by no means the same thing).
Anyway, I’m going to continue posting the usual pieces on new Japanese music, discussions around my other music writing work and musings on classic pop and rock, but I hope you’ll forgive me for getting a bit selfish. My income derives entirely from writing and music (in large part writing about music), and it probably won’t be that surprising to learn that it doesn’t amount to much. Now I’m going to spare you another one of those dreary navel-gazing posts from journalists or music industry types bemoaning how free content on the Web is destroying their industry and rather than resort to begging for donations (which in any case is illegal through PayPal Japan), I hope instead that over the past few years (more than ten years if we count the original site) of writing Clear And Refreshing I’ve enough credit in the bank to ask my readers to indulge me in a bit of self promotion.
While writing my 2013 Top 20 series, I didn’t include any of my own label’s releases because firstly it would have devalued the list, and secondly, I’d in any case have been unable to honestly assess what position they should go in the ranking. So instead, I’d like to separately do a rundown of key Call And Response releases, talking a little about each disc from a personal and involved stance rather than affecting any sort of journalistic distance. Obviously anyone wishing to buy the CD would be doing me, and I humbly suggest also themselves, a huge favour. Most of it will eventually make its way onto iTunes, and I will no doubt be posting suitably caveat- and apology-laden updates whenever that occurs, but the CDs are available now at this very moment.
The response I’ve had to the free Valentine’s compilation I posted on February 14th has been very generous, so if only a few people who enjoyed that album were to buy some of the official releases I’ve put out over the years, it would be a world of help and greatly appreciated. Yes, I know I’m sounding needy; I’ll stop there.