Shiina Ringo 2018 – the tribute, the 20th anniversary, the Russia trip

2018Ringosexy5

How relevant Shiina Ringo exactly is in 2018? Some gave up, some chose Seiko Oomori, I largely listen to Ayano Kaneko now, though she’s someone completely different. Hence, my answer – Ringo continues to be fairly relevant on my playlist, but that’s about as much as I can say, other than that the opinions of the rest of Ringo fans community vary greatly.

This year marks Ringo’s 20th anniversary since she debuted in the music industry, and as such it came with a new tour, a tribute album, and oddly enough, she paid a visit to Mother Russia (?!). What can we make out of it all? Will an apple and a cat be replaced by the hammer and sickle? We can only speculate. Continue reading →

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Ayano Kaneko 2018 update – Shukusai – 2nd full-length album

The second update post about my (currently) favorite Japanese singer. The singer-songwriter/girl with an acoustic guitar shtick isn’t anything groundbreaking, as there are many artists like that in Japan (and in the Western side of things Joni Mitchell or Emmylou Harris have been doing that decades ago). Yet, while listening to Ayano Kaneko I get the feeling she’s a real talent, there’s something special about her music. Her releases continue to bring a smile on my face and the songs make me tap my feet, and that’s what counts, right? A week and a half ago 祝祭 (Shukusai – Festival) came out, which is Kaneko’s second full-length album, following 恋する惑星 (Koisuru Wakusei – Love Planet) from 2015. Continue reading →

Ayano Kaneko – Mure-tachi (群れたち) album

Ever since I’ve heard 恋する惑星 (Koisuru Wakusei) in full, I’ve been hoarding any カネコアヤノ (Ayano Kaneko) CDs I could find. The thing which I decided to skip on was last year’s LP, 群れたち (Mure Tachi). I’m becoming more and more of a collector, but I still haven’t got round to purchasing a turntable, so I decided against ordering a vinyl recording, only for the sake of having it. The moment it sold out, I’ve already regretted my decision… Thankfully, Kaneko actually released the album again in February, this time in the CD format.
The lack of English information/news about this lovely artist, and purely depending on my extremely limited Japanese and Google Translate to find the info sucks, but I’m slowly getting hang of it. Continue reading →

Yuki Saito – Japanese pop gem from the 80s

When I hear the term ‘Japanese idol pop‘, two names that first come to mind are Momoe Yamaguchi and Akina Nakamori. That’s my opinion though, as both were quite different artistically than most of their peers –  Yamaguchi and Nakamori stood as sort of femme-fatale figures, capable of powerful delivery, whose music was often dark and/or provocative. They were certainly huge back in the day, but even then, the bubbly sugar pop dominated the scene, and it continues to do so to this day. I’m definitely not trying to make it sound as if it was a bad thing – the 80s produced a great deal of amazing idol-singers, and there are some newer artists I’m also fond of.

Music-wise I particularly love the 80s, and my previous great discovery from that time was Yukiko Okada – her catchy music and the tragic story gripped my heart. My most recent unearthed 80s gem is Yuki Saito. I did hear about her before, but only in the context of the timeless 80s anime Maison Ikkoku and the superb song used for that show –  悲しみよこんにちは (Kanashimi yo Konnichi wa – ‘Hello Sadness’). It was composed by Tamaki Koji of 安全地帯 (Anzen Chitai) fame.

However, I soon found out, that there’s much more to her career than an anime opening theme. Continue reading →

Funky Japanese pop of Dance for Philosophy

BABYMETAL managed to combine idol culture with metal. Halcali or Rhymeberry mix it with hip-hop. Seiko Omoori, just like the legendary Jun Togawa back in the day goes for the anti-idol gimmick. My newest jam, Dance for Philosophy, is a cool 4-piece Japanese girl group, which puts their own, refreshing and bouncy spin on the genre. Continue reading →

Shiina Ringo 2017 update and Reimport vol. 2 album

I haven’t written about Shiina Ringo, my favorite Japanese female artist in a while. There wasn’t that much going on around her, and the recent years showed that cashing in on CM music is the thing she’s focused on the most. And that’s coming from a guy who thinks that Sunny (Hi Izuro Tokoro) was a decent album, Nippon is corny, but acceptable, and Ringo Expo ’14 was an enjoyable hot concert recording (a bit of a mess at times, but a hot one). 逆輸入 ~港湾局~ (Gyakuyunyū: Kōwankyoku, ‘Reimport: Ports and Harbours Bureau’), the self-covers CD, which came in 2014 was pretty cool as well. Finally, three years since the aforementioned Reimport and Sunny albums, we got a new record this December – and guess what, it’s the vol. 2 of Reimport. Continue reading →

Wonder Girls continue to rock: Sunmi’s Gashina and Yenny’s MEiNE

I’m gonna keep mention this ’til I’m blue in the face – I simply cannot get over Wonder Girls’ disbandment. Yenny, Sunmi, Yubin and Hyerim turning into pop/rock/reggae band with idol elements was a perfectly executed idea, and Reboot album in particular got me super-hyped and hungry for more. Unfortunately, the girls could not win with the vicious kpop industry. As they had been around for quite some time, newer, younger idol groups became much more popular, and this led to the obvious conclusion – only the bands which bring in the most $$$ get to stay and do stuff (WG’s contracts were expiring and the re-negotiations brouhaha was bound to end in flames).

Yenny and Sunmi parted ways with JYP, and as it turned out, fortunately they’re good without him. Continue reading →

Lovely Summer Chan – Ningen no Tochi

Convenient censoring

Lovely Summer Chan’s LSC was the perfect out of the blue album that rocked my world last year. The perfect blend of the kawaii, distorted guitars, mellow, adorable voice and pop/rock/electronic/you-name-it sound hit that perfect spot on my music palate. Since then, I’ve been eagerly anticipating more stuff from her, and on August 2 this year, Lovely Summer Chan has finally released some new music – an E.P. entitled Ningen no Tochi (人間の土地‘Human Land’). And once again each song appears to be entirely different than the other ones.

Ningen no Tochi consists 4 tracks and all of them represent different music genres and styles – which is a lot like LSC – the diversity of that record is something that continues to amaze me. Continue reading →

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 →

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 →