Tag Archives: The Keys

Preview: Shimokitazawa Sound Cruising

For any of you based in Tokyo, I did a short preview for The Japan Times of tomorrow’s Shimokitazawa Sound Cruising event. It’s an indie festival using venues all over the Shimokitazawa area, with more than a hundred artists performing. For what it’s worth, here are the ones I recommend.

Chi-na: Really quite charming violin and piano-led alt-pop band. Their last album, Granville, was really good and they put on an energetic live show.Chiina: Granville Island Market

Deepslauter: At the other end of the scale, I’m not familiar enough with all the various subgenres of hardcore, metal and thrash to say with confidence exactly what kind of band Deepslauter are, but they’re ace.Deepslauter live in Kobe

Lagitagida: Lightning speed instrumental prog rock. The guitarist is a fucking maniac but the whole band is just a circus of these lunatic musicians just showing off, and it’s a pretty intense experience.Lagitagida: Terrible Boy

Tadzio: Presumably named after the character from Thomas Mann’s A Death in Venice, Tadzio are a thrilling and brutal, somewhat avant-garde garage-punk duo and one of my personal favourites from the whole event.Tadzio: Worst Friends

The Keys: On the gentler side of things, The Keys are a solid, melodic guitar pop band and will make a nice break from some of the more intense stuff on the bill.The Keys: (Everybody Was Leaving) Chinatown — Acoustic version

Mitsume: New wave-edged indiepop band who don’t always make a big impact at first impression, but reward attention with a lot going on under the bonnet. Probably another of my personal favourites from this lineup.Mitsume: Entotsu

Sono na wa Spade/The Lady Spade: Not really a music act so much as an eroticism-tinged cabaret parody of otaku culture, they’re worth watching at least once in your life. It’s hard to know to what extent what they’re doing is satire and how much is just genuine, sincere geekery, but it’s, um, interesting.Sono na wa Space: Sweetholic

Wrench: Probably the best of all the properly loud bands at this event, Wrench take in elements of industrial, EBM and hardcore. They’ve been at it for years and have a semi-legendary status in the scene now, so they’re well worth watching.Wrench, live at Shibuya O-East

There are lots of other bands worth watching, like Nacano, Ana, Lite, Shonen Knife, Kettles, and even some of the idol stuff that’s still busy colonising the indie mindset, like Dempagumi inc. and BiS is likely to be fun to watch. it’s also worth just checking out something you’ve no idea about, just for the hell of it. Anyway, if you go, good luck, and bring your walking shoes, because there’s a lot to see and a lot of ground to cover.

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Strange Boutique (July 2012)

My Japan Times column this month is on the Fuji Rock Rookie A Go-Go stage, where indie bands (not necessarily “rookies” since many of them have been around for ages) get a chance to play and since last year to compete for a place on one of next year’s main stages. A bit of weird phrasing aside (I was super-late filing it and I’m still not entirely sure what “up-and-coming dadrockers” means), I say pretty much everything I wanted to in the article so not much to add here except to drop a few links to bands I recommended in the article.

First up there’s Gezan, from Osaka, whose violent onstage antics really lose something on record, so for heaven’s sake check them out live if you get a chance:

Also on Friday there’s The Keys, who are a fine example of the sort of jangly guitar pop that Japanese indie retronauts have been keeping on life support since the late 80s. I slag off old British guitar bands in the article (because they’re shit and they deserve it) but I have no particular problem with melodic guitar music when it’s done with charm and intimacy like this:

Another good Friday night band is Kanazawa’s Ningen OK, who seem to be rocketing up through the hipster-credometer with their fiddly brand of avant-garde postpunk/prog:

I mention Kettles, although I’m not quite sure about them yet. They just seem a bit too down-the-line J-indie, although they can definitely write a song when they put their mind to it, and they’re probably my pick from the more mainstream Saturday night lineup:

Sunday is mostly rock’n’roll stuff, but the best band by far is Fukuoka psychedelic postrock instrumental band MacManaman, who have rocked a few of my own events now, both in Tokyo and Kyushu, and who really stand out on Rookie A Go-Go’s third night:

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