Ayano Kaneko, one of the best indie artists in Japan

‘~Aaaaaaaa’

I wrote about Lovely Summer Chan. I wrote about Kamin Shirahata. Now it’s time for Ayano Kaneko. And firstly I must say, it’s fucking amazing we’re living in times when I can find out about all these talented artists from the all over the world, even if they aren’t worldwide famous, promoted and mass-sold to us through all the means available. It’s actually possible to learn about this young girl singer who plays the guitar in Japan, and despite the fact that I don’t understand much, I know enough to decide whether someone rocks or not. Continue reading →

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Out of the black, into the blue – Lana Del Rey’s Lust for Life

Lana Del Fuckin’ Rey did it again. She released a new album and it’s a bewitching, breathtaking audiovisual journey as usual. The work is called Lust for Life (it rolls off the tongue well), and it already sounded like a change in artistic direction for Del Rey. No more gloom and sadness? While dark Hollywood tales still have their room on the new record, the singer seems to have accepted fame and the shit it comes with, but also she accepted herself. Familiar love stories are included, but at some  Lust for Life surprisingly gets political too, and the issues she’s trying to raise are well-thought out. Lana Del Rey is fully grown now. ‘Gone is the burden’, she says. It’s like taking off the weighted clothing in Dragon Ball Z, making your power levels spike. Continue reading →

Haim’s Something to Tell You is Classic Rock Reincarnated

Haim’s Days Are Gone was an album that took me by surprise – it turned out there’s a contemporary band which sounds like my beloved Fleetwood Mac. By incorporating some fresh twists and quirks here and there, the group could entertain the today’s generation listener as well. After long-ass 4 years of waiting, the girls finally came back in June with a new record, entitled Something to Tell You. Continue reading →

Hootie and the Blowfish – a forgotten (?) gem of the 90s

The nineties fucking rocked music-wise. Let’s see, there were badass grunge bands like Alice in Chains, Nirvana or Pearl Jam. Some other alternative/indie rock acts soon followed as well, including Faith No More, Foo Fighters, The Smashing Pumpkins, No Doubt or Beck. Many well-established bands which started out in the 80s managed to hit new heights – like Metallica with their Black Album, or RHCP with Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Hell, some groups from the 70s enjoyed new-found success as well – like Aerosmith and their Get a Grip record in 1993 (who doesn’t sing along to Crazy or Cryin’?). Rap became a next big thing (N.W.A., Wu-Tang Clan, Cypress Hill, Biggie, 2Pac, Eminem), and so did female-fronted pop-rock acts, often associated with the third wave of feminism – singer-songwriters like Alanis Morissette, Tori Amos, Sheryl Crow or Liz Phair were enjoying immense popularity. Pretty much all of those bands entered mainstream, and at this point are considered classics in their respective genres. Like it or not, 1990 was already 27 years ago, so to me it’s almost my whole lifespan. Interestingly (or maybe it shouldn’t be that surprising) enough, there were some groups that aren’t well-known outside their home countries. Hootie and the Blowfish is one of them. Continue reading →

Reflecting on my travel to Japan, part 2

When you’re a textbook example of a (slightly educated) bumpkin from Polish countryside somewhere in the south, Tokyo may definitely appear overwhelming. While ‘bursztynowy świerzop’ or ‘gryka jak śnieg biała’ no longer can be found in the place where I grew up (idyllic stuff our national poet wrote about few centuries ago), nonetheless time flows more slowly here, and there’s not that much going on, which greatly contrasts with the Japanese metropolis. During several days there I’ve probably seen more people than in half of my lifetime. What shocked us, however, was the small number of foreign tourists around us. I mean, there was a bunch of them in Asakusa and another quite large gathering near Hachiko statue in Shibuya, but these weren’t the hordes we expected to see on every corner (more than 20 million tourists visiting Japan yearly). Fact: Japan is just a such a homogeneous nation that the Japanese folks make up for the great majority of people there. That’s one thing Japan and Poland have in common – larger cities have some expat communities, but overall it’s Poles everywhere. As such, the hosts (locals and the domestic tourists) dominated in most places, and we were lost in the crowd (or actually we kind of stood out, towering over quite short Japanese folks). Continue reading →

Refleksyjnie o mojej podróży do Japonii, cz. 2

Gdy jest się książkowym przykładem (nieco poduczonego) wieśniaczka z polskiej wsi na południu kraju, to Tokio potrafi porazić swym ogromem. Co prawda bursztynowego świerzopu i gryki jak śnieg białej już człowiek w moich rodzimych stronach nie uświadczy, to jednak czas z pewnością płynie tu znacznie wolniej i dzieje się znacznie mniej, i szybko się okazało, że stoi to w ogromnym kontraście do japońskiego metropolis.

Podejrzewam, że przez kilka dni tam spędzonych zobaczyłem więcej ludzi niż przez pół życia. Zszokowała nas jednak względnie mała liczba zagranicznych turystów dookoła. Były jakieś tam grupki w Asakusie oraz całkiem spore walne zgromadzenie w pobliżu pomnika Hachiko w Shibuyi, ale z pewnością nie były to hordy, które spodziewaliśmy się mijać na każdym kroku (wg internetów Japonię odwiedza przeszło 20 milionów turystów rocznie, z tendencją wzrostową). Powiedziałbym, że jest to jedno z największych podobieństw między Japonią, a Polską – obydwa kraje prowadzą w braku różnorodności rasowej.  Faktem jest, że Japonia jest po prostu tak jednolita etnicznie, że w większości miejsc to gospodarze dominowali (lokalsi i turyści wewnętrzni) i praktycznie wszędzie tonęliśmy w tłumie (tudzież można rzec, że górowaliśmy nad dość niskimi Japończykami). Continue reading →

Reflecting on my travel to Japan, part 1

I’ve finally fulfilled my biggest dream and  between March and April this year I flew to the land of sakura, anime, AKB48, sake and wasabi, to spend there almost three weeks. In general it was no spontaneous ,last-minute sort of deal, which would be built around visiting those few places that pop up on the first page of Google, after writing down ‘Japan things to see’. After buying the plane ticket (more than a half a year beforehand), the real fun began, as I wanted to pick the most interesting spots to catch a glimpse of. The temples like Fushimi Inari or Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto (which first impressed me in an animated form – through anime Lucky Star), or the memorial plate  of my favorite Japanese singer – late Yutaka Ozaki, in Shibuya, Tokyo were on my trip’s must-see list from the very beginning, but the rest of the itinerary was a real dilemma. It turned out my knowledge about Japan was mostly based on countless watched anime titles, movies and TV series, and dozens or hundreds of pop and rock bands I listen to. For the next few months, I had to learn a bit more about what Japan is all about, when it comes monuments, and otherwise. Continue reading →

Refleksyjnie o mojej podróży do Japonii, cz. 1

Na przełomie marca i kwietnia spełniłem swoje największe marzenie i poleciałem na prawie 3 tygodnie do Kraju Kwitnącej Wiśni, anime, AKB48, sake i wasabi. Generalnie nie była to spontaniczna wizyta, opierająca się wyłącznie na zwiedzeniu kilku miejsc, które pojawiają się na pierwszej stronie Google po wpisaniu hasła ‘Japan things to see’. Po zakupieniu biletu na samolot (z ponad półrocznym wyprzedzeniem), zaczęła się prawdziwa zabawa z wyszukaniem najciekawszych lokalizacji do odwiedzenia. Świątynie Fushimi Inari i Kiyomizu-dera (która zaimponowała mi po raz pierwszy w wersji animowanej – anime Lucky Star) w Kioto, czy tabliczka upamiętniająca mojego ulubionego Japońskiego piosenkarza, Yutakę Ozakiego w dzielnicy Shibuya w Tokio miały od samego początku zapewnione miejsca  w moim planie podróży, jednak cała reszta była wielką niewiadomą. Moja wiedza o Japonii głównie opierała się na niezliczonych obejrzanych tytułów anime, filmów i seriali oraz dziesiątkach przesłuchanych zespołów popowych i rockowych. Przez kolejne kilka miesięcy zacząłem się douczać o tym, co tak naprawdę warto zwiedzić. Continue reading →

Twice is Sending You a Signal

More and more kpop groups which I’ve been fond of retired lately – Wonder Girls (still can’t get over this one), 4Minute, SISTAR or 2NE1. The giants like Girls’ Generation or BIG BANG may still be around, but I don’t think they’ll stay around very much longer. The entertainment industry is a very vicious place, and new bands pop off straight away to fill the void left by their sunbaes.
In less than two years, Twice has become one of the main forces of the Korean pop. Starting with Like Ooh Ahh, through ubiquitous Cheer Up, TT and Knock Knock, the girlband continues to make a hit after hit, enjoys commercial success and observes great view numbers on Youtube. Twice quickly cemented their position at the forefront of the kpop phenomenon, and now the girls are back with the new single, Signal. So, does it live up to the hype? Continue reading →

Babes Never Die

My top 5 Scotland-related things are: Frankie Boyle, Nazareth, Trainspotting, the accent, and most recently, Honeyblood. The band initially came up on my radar when I heard their first self-titled album, and I immediately fell in love. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait very long for the follow-up record. The rocking duo composed of Stina Tweeddale and Cat Myers returned with a Babes Never Die CD in November last year (I took my sweet time writing this).. Continue reading →