I bought a few new Japanese CDs recently – 2 of which happen to be created by fairly underground bands which managed to immediately win me over, while the third is a single that comes from an artist who’s currently extremely hyped in Japanese alternative scene. It’s another attempt at understanding the phenomenon behind the success of this peculiar singer. The popular doesn’t mean good, and the obscure doesn’t mean worse than the mainstream.
Ashiteru.com (愛してる.com) is a single by Seiko Oomori, a girl whose notorious, controversial at-concert antiques, and the anti-idol persona make her a prominent figure in the business right now. The release is a lead-up to the upcoming TOKYO BLACK HOLE album, coming March 23.
Some compare Oomori to the legendary Jun Togawa, and I truly fail to see the similarity. Togawa mocked the aidoru culture and from what I gathered about her she was legit nuts. I don’t know if Oomori Seiko is just so amazing that I can’t even realize which parts of her art are the parody and which are genuine, or maybe simply there isn’t as much depth to her music as fans make of it. The fact that I find her voice borderline annoying doesn’t help either. Honestly, if I randomly heard 愛してる.com without any prior knowledge about the artist I’d totally skip it – it sounds so idol-poppy generic, like an intro to some lame anime. 劇的JOY! ビフォーアフター is much better, it has a nice dance beat to it and smoother vocals (no irksome high pitch). The final track is entitled Fan Letter (ファンレター), and it’s a short acoustic ballad. It does feel intimate and sensational and it’s my favorite on the single.
Damn it, I’m a sucker for free posters.
It does seem that I’m granting Seiko way more chances than I should – yet all the places where I find recommendations for Japanese music praise her, so I try to stay in the loop. While Aishiteru.com is not utterly bad, I just don’t get the joy out of it. Ultimately, that’s how I perceive everything she does.
Let’s switch over to the good stuff. Zombie Chang is a curious female artist who first came to my attention through the E.P. Koi no Vacances (恋のバカンス). Song summer time was a true jackpot for me – simple but entrancing rhythm, quirky rapping, low-fi production, generally nostalgic mood and the dorky MV made me so excited.
The full length effort – Zombie-Change, came out on January 20, 2016 and I believe it’s the best record this year so far. Refreshing beats, retro synthesizers and the dreamy voice of the singer, Meirin Yung, harmonize incredibly well and yield an incredibly well-rounded electro-pop album. You listen to it in one go, and you’re ready to pop it back on from the beginning.
There’s something fascinating about Japanese rap (even though I’m not familiar with the scene), which makes it more enjoyable to me than English and Polish counterparts. It’s unfortunate that I can only catch individual words though, so they might be saying some complete gibberish and I wouldn’t know. Zombie Chang is just too cool so I don’t care what she’s saying.
The eponymous record by She Border Picture is a 2015 production. According to this site they’ve been around since 2007, but the debut album was released last year. These guys are amazing. I’m getting a strong Sonic Youth (Daydream Nation) vibe and it’s by no means a bad thing. I’d describe their genre as noise rock with shoegaze undertones. Considering how Kinoko Teikoku (きのこ帝国) went fully pop, this is my beast alternative right now. Although She Border Picture is far heavier but I certainly love those distorted guitars. Yuu, the vocalist goes from powerful screams to soft, almost whispery voice and gives me chills on each of the 5 songs present on the album. I pray they will stick around and bring forth more of their music. Great find.