Visiting Yutaka Ozaki in Shibuya, Tokyo

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Even by itself, my recent trip to Japan had a very special meaning to me. But there were also several crucial objectives planned way beforehand to be ticked off from the bucket list – some were related to cuisine, others to culture, history, nature or entertainment. However, one of the places I visited had also spiritual significance of sorts. While the stopover there lasted maybe 20 minutes, it was a very emotional moment, and it left a powerful impression on me. Located relatively close to Shibuya Station, I paid a visit to a memorial plate of Yutaka Ozaki, late rebellious singer of the 1980s, whose music and charisma actually hugely contributed to my interest in Japan, and he was among the main reasons for my travel there. Continue reading →

Shiina Ringo 2016: televised shows and awards

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The bad taste in my mouth left by last year’s atrocious Coca-Cola song, Nagaku Mijikai Matsuri (長く短い祭), isn’t easy to wash off, but life goes on… Shiina Ringo appeared on the 66th NHK Kōhaku Uta Gassen, the Japanese New Year’s Eve music show, with the aforementioned tune and I loathed the vocaloid voice as much as ever. The act as a whole was visually great and Kamisama, Hotokesama intro bit was quite enjoyable, but the auto-tune just ruined the experience completely.

Anyhow, after few months of waiting on my part, WOWOW has finally broadcast a concert from 2015 tour. There was also another show of hers aired – a part of the 5th anniversary of Dream Festival on TV Asahi ch1, which took place on November 21-23 of 2015. What can I say – I’m crazy about her and she pretty much nailed it on both occasions, though there were few things I deem unnecessary. Continue reading →

Summer music festivals in Japan 2015: Shiina Ringo, 10-Feet, Dragon Ash

kishidanIt never ceases to astound me how the Japanese stay seated during indoor concerts. It does not happen every time, but it’s a fairly common thing. However, music shows which take place in the open-air venues is a completely different story – the crowds go utterly crazy and that sheer intensity still emanates from the video footage of those events. Some big music festivals occur in summer – Rock in Japan, Fuji Rock or Rising Sun Rock Festival to name a few. They are usually covered by Japanese TV to a degree, so it’s always a good source for finding new artists to listen to, or enjoy those I already like. Continue reading →

Shiina Ringo – Nagaku Mijikai Matsuri / Kamisama, Hotokesama

ringowhyThe amazing Japanese songstress returns with a new summer single and unfortunately it makes me question her integrity as an artist.
When Ringo first started out, she played fairly straight-forward pop-rock mix with few twists here and there which paved her way into stardom. Then came Shouso Strip, KSK or Sanmon Gossip and we were wowed by her genre-bending and experimentation. I do not ardently love each and every song from these albums but I definitely admire the road she has taken. The more recent album – Sunny – is not up to par with her older releases but it is still a decent and pleasant record.
This new single is an atrocity. Continue reading →

Electric ladies of music: Janelle Monáe, Danielle Brisebois

riotgrrrlWomen in the music scene can rock and surely they do, and I can’t stress this fact enough. It bothers me that lots of guys are still like, ‘she’s a girl so she can’t play heavy metal’, ‘she should stick to pop’, ‘it doesn’t fit her’. As if music genres were gender-bound, limited to specific race or sexual orientation. Just look at rap culture and the way white artists continue to be perceived. Beastie Boys were a sensation back in the day and more recently so was Eminem, but they had to fight lots of negative preconceived notions to achieve success and gain appreciation. People still go, ‘wow she’s a female, yet she raps as good as man’, or ‘I don’t listen to George Michael, coz he’s gay’. Music is all matter of taste, but the issues mentioned should never play a role in deciding whether you like an artist or not. Times surely change for the better, but the music fascism remains, I have no doubt about that. Riot grrrl movement of the early 1990s, with bands like Bikini Kill, Le Tigre or Sleater-Kinney, addressed the problems of the male-centered society and the place of women in music, yet the mainstream culture still did not get this memo. Continue reading →

Shiina Ringo – Sunny era

Ringo FeatureShiina Ringo has been quite busy last year. In May we saw the release of the self-cover album Gyakuyunyū: Kōwankyoku, in June there was NIPPON single which coincided with FIFA World Cup, finally on November 5 we got the first ‘proper’ full-length album from Ringo in 6 years, Hi Izuru Tokoro named in English as Sunny. Opinions among the fans varied, and it was understandable, as the singer included not one or two, but 6 previously released singles (Ariamaru Tomi dating back to 2009 and Sanmon Gossip recording sessions!), which left us with only 7 new songs.  Continue reading →

Re-defining violence with Lana Del Rey, re-visiting Nebraska with Springsteen and Shiina Ringo’s Reimport deal

titleVideo Games was the first Lana Del Rey song I heard and it intrigued me from the very start. The song stood out among other tunes played on the radio – it was hauntingly beautiful and dreamy, but the lyrics had this rare dark, depressing overtone, which you cannot easily forget. Then Summertime Sadness and Dark Paradise came along and although these two did not leave as much of impression on me as Video Games, they convinced me that this singer was amazing at conveying emotions and had a fascinating, gloomy voice. Continue reading →

Re-defining violence with Lana Del Rey, re-visiting Nebraska with Springsteen and Shiina Ringo's Reimport deal

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Video Games was the first Lana Del Rey song I heard and it intrigued me from the very start. The song stood out among other tunes played on the radio – it was hauntingly beautiful and dreamy, but the lyrics had this rare dark, depressing overtone, which you cannot easily forget. Then Summertime Sadness and Dark Paradise came along and although these two did not leave as much of impression on me as Video Games, they convinced me that this singer was amazing at conveying emotions and had a fascinating, gloomy voice. Continue reading →

TOP 20 best female singers of all time by nostalgicrocknrolla

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While all sorts of ‘top’ lists don’t really offer much of valuable content, I often catch myself enjoying these immensely. Whether it’s TOP 10 rock bands of all time list, TOP 50 Rob Schneider movies or ‘5 ways to become an alpha male’ guide, you end up being drawn to this type of posts on the internet.

From time to time the-best-something lists may be helpful – for instance one day you decide you want to watch Swedish soap operas (are there any??) – googling up ‘best Swedish tv shows’ is the first thing you want to do.

I’m not really trying to show that my opinion on the matter stated in the title is something to live by. I’m only creating a list of female voices in music which I find the most beautiful and mesmerizing, and their work is definitely worth exploring. Also, as I said in the beginning, lists are fun and we’ll see how this one turns out! Continue reading →