For any indie/twee pop fans out there in the Tokyo area, this exhibition by local fanzine/DJ collective Twee Grrrls Club could be well worth checking out. Anyone familiar with group figurehead Sumire Taya’s Shibuya boutique Violet & Claire, or indeed any of the Twee Grrrls’ numerous events and parties, will be familiar with the sorts of crafts on display, although if you want to check out more, the Grrrls have info on the exhibition posted up on their blog as well as some photos of the kinds of artworks and nicknacks they have on display.
The exhibition also acts as a sort of companion to the collective’s typically adorable looking new Indie Pop Lesson book, released last December, it should provide a fascinating introduction to this particular side of Tokyo DiY indie culture, encompassing music, art, writing and all manner of homemade miscellany.
Continuing my notes on some of the Tokyo indie bands who will appear at the Call And Response New Year party on January 22nd, here are some short descriptions of three more of the bands who are going to perform.
Tessendorico are a postpunk quartet with a percussive twin-drum setup and a neat line in scratchy, dance-orientated Gang of Four/Contortions type angular punk-funk. They emerged out of the similar sounding Chewz a little over a year ago and they continue to organize the semi-regular Future Music event, bringing together similar artpunk spirits from around Japan.
Tessendorico: Chika Song
A minor but interesting point about Tessendorico is that they’re a rare band in Japan with a lone female guitarist. Japanese indie is pretty good at giving boys and girls something closer than usual to equal status, with plenty of female sound engineers, lots of excellent bassists and drummers, and some outstanding female-dominated bands – overall I’d hazard a guess at a ratio of something like 70/30 male/female which is a lot better than you seem to find in, for example, the UK. Obviously all-girl bands and a lot of female-fronted bands have female guitarists, but you rarely see girls like Mayumi Sekiguchi just lurking in the corner, cutting awkward shapes on guitar in male dominated bands. Part of it might be the opportunities for customization of sound through multiple effects pedals lending itself to the still largely male tendency towards tech-geekery (I remember before a gig once seeing a guitarist arrive at the venue, then casually sit down, take out a portable soldering iron and start customizing his guitar just for fun while he waited for his soundcheck), but I’m open to other explanations.
Tantan to Tantan are a band I must confess to knowing rather less about other than that they are a young, Stooges-influenced garage punk band, so I’ll just direct you to their Myspace (their only web presence at this time) where you can hear a couple of rough and ready demo tracks (I recommend Shocker).
Girls Pancakes: Crash
Girls Pancakes are what Time Out Tokyo describes as an “unashamedly twee” Tokyo indiepop group. More than “unashamed”, they wear the label proudly, with guitarist Sumire Taya a founder of all-girl DJ collective Twee Grrrls Club and owner of ultra-indie clothing/accessories/record shop Violet & Claire. The above video of Girl Pancakes covering The Primitives’ Crash is a bit old as they have now brought in Makoto from Smilelove, but it gives a good picture of the kind of fragile, indie melodicism you can expect from them.