In February 2000, I took a trip back home to Honolulu that would permanently shift the focus of this website. I came back from that trip with CDs from the brilliant green, Utada Hikaru, L’Arc~en~Ciel and Shiina Ringo. The following month, I picked up more CDs by NUMBER GIRL, Dr.StrangeLove and FEED at various SXSW showcases.
My fascination with the Japanese music scene began in earnest.
That summer, I would order regularly from online shops overseas, and I would eventually embark on relearning a language I went through the motions of studying back in high school and college.
That period of discovery was pretty fertile, and most of my favorite albums stem from the early part of the decade. I’m a lot more skeptical of newer artists these days, so that adventurousness has significantly waned.
But its coverage of music from Japan that makes this site somewhat distinct. I’m hoping newcomers still find it somewhat useful.
Musicwhore.org Favorite Edition 2000
Shiina Ringo, Shouso Strip
Muzai Moratorium was the teaser. Shouso Strip ratcheted everything up ten-fold. Ambitious, epic, dense and uncompromising, this album firmly put Shiina Ringo in the upper echelon of creative minds.
The singles from this album made it seem Cocco was softening her sound. Nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, she became more unhinged.
NUMBER GIRL, SAPPUKEI
Producer Dave Fridmann coaxed the most brutal and punishing performance the band ever set to record.
Inspired by the Chemical Brothers, SUPERCAR managed to do what the major labels hoped the Chems would — apply an electronica sound to a band setting. Too bad by then, boy bands and pop idols dictated fashion. And profits.
Do As Infinity, Break of Dawn
Do As Infinity’s pop sound had a strong ally in Owatari Ryo’s beefy guitar work.
eX-Girl, Big When Far, Small When Close
What happens when an avant-garde punk group decides they’re really a Bulgarian women’s choir.
U2, All That You Can’t Leave Behind
Oh my GOD did Pop suck.
Sleater-Kinney, All Hands on the Bad One
FEED, Make Every Stardust Shimmer!
Singer Saito Maya disliked the comparisons to the Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan, but it’s tough to ignore the strong post-Smiths influence on both bands.
Yaida Hitomi, daiya-monde
A manic debut, perhaps the most exuberant Yaida would ever sound.
2000 was also the year I actually started making a decent living. So I ended up buying a lot of music. The following year would be a different story.
- Smashing Pumpkins, MACHINA/The Machine of God Closest thing to Gish the latter-day band reached.
- Sade, Lovers Rock Finally a Sade album with no fillers. Oddly enough, it’s also the Sade album with no singles either.
- PJ Harvey, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea One of her less obtuse moments.
- Gidon Kremer, Silencio No collection should be without a recording of Arvö Pärt’s Tabula Rasa.
- OBLIVION DUST, Butterfly Head The last hurrah.
- L’Arc~en~Ciel, REAL The peak. A prolonged break that followed would do the band no favors creatively.
- Bonnie Pink, Let Go I’m not fond of the opening two tracks, but the rest of the album is quite good.
- MISSILE GIRL SCOOT, Fiesta! No needs gifts of a reason!
- m-flo, Planet Shining Lisa, Taku and Verbal had a real chemistry.
- Dry & Heavy, Full Contact These dub roots, they are strong.
- Juanes, Fíate Bien Yes, I was still exploring Latin rock at this point.
- La Ley, Uno Even Latin Rock that attempted to sound like Duran Duran.
- Sinéad O’Connor, Faith and Courage It’s not a bad album, but it’s not The Lion and the Cobra either.
- Soundtrack, High Fidelity In some ways a sequel to Grosse Pointe Blank.
- BBMak, Sooner or Later Boy band with guitars. Better BBMak than, say, LFO.