Monthly Archives: January 2006

Sympathy for the record industry

Global music sales decline another 2 percent in 2005, despite a three-fold increase in online sales, so says the Associated Press. How could that be?

Record bosses are now having to look beyond piracy to explain the latest decline in revenues, which have fallen about 20 percent globally since 1999.

“Piracy in all its forms has been the major factor in this reversal but not the only factor,” said Eric Nicoli, chairman of EMI Group PLC, the world’s No. 3 record company.

You think? Maybe perhaps the labels are putting out shit product and consumers are getting smarter about it?

Some analysts see other reasons for the industry’s current woes. “Executives have focused so much of their attention on piracy that they’ve diverted their efforts from developing new talent,” said Phil Leigh of Inside Digital Media, a U.S. market research firm.

I don’t download very much, nor do I purchase files online. What I hear doesn’t give me much incentive to do either.

The sophomore jinx is not just for sophomores anymore

I’ve been covering popular music from Japan since 2000, and I’m now familiar enough with it to see little to no difference from popular music in the US. Band politics work the same, and Japanese artists who I thought could do no wrong have shown their humanity.

2005 marked the year when the exoticism of Japanese popular music wore off for me. All that to say I’m far more willing to pan than I was when I first started listening to this music, and this round-up is perhaps an impressive collection of cookware.

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Punch me, I’m dreaming, or Cocco releases a new single

Cocco. New single. Feb. 22.

You can’t imagine the glee I feel by seeing those three words together in a series of sentence fragments. reports the title of the new single is “Onsoku Punch”, and it contains three tracks. The coupling songs are “Dosha Furi Yozora” and “Ryuuseigun” (no indication if it’s an Onitsuka Chihiro cover, but I very much doubt it). Cocco re-teamed with former producer Takamune Negishi on the new single, and a limited edition pressing includes a DVD.

It’s Cocco’s first new release as a solo artist since announcing her retirement in 2001. Since then, she’s published two picture books, was filmed for a documentary and recorded an album with Quruli’s Kishida Shigeru as part of Singer Songer.

Folks, she’s back.

UPDATE: A reader just e-mailed me about a commercial clip available on the Speedstar web site. Hmm. This comeback should be interesting … (Thanks, Victoria!)

SXSW 2006: Dir en grey, WTF?

SXSW 2006 updated its partial list of bands performing at this year’s music festival. As is my habit, I search for any Japanese bands listed. Here’s who’s booked so far, schedules as always subject to change:

  • Afrirampo
  • Caroline
  • Dir en grey
  • DMBQ
  • Ellegarden
  • The Emeralds
  • eX-Girl
  • Gitogito Hustler
  • Limited Express (has gone?)
  • Luminous Orange
  • My Way My Love
  • Masahiro Nitta
  • Noahlewis’ Mahlon Taits
  • PE’Z
  • The Rodeo Carburettor
  • Kunimoto Takeharu
  • Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re
  • Toru Yonaha

Dir en grey? What the fuck is up with that?

I know at this point I want to catch PE’Z and Luminous Orange. I would love to see what eX-Girl has been up to since 2003’s Endangered Species. And I’m vaguely curious about Noahlewis’ Mahlon Taits. We’ll see how the scheduling goes, though.

Unveiling the ‘mask’

The good news: ACO is coming out with a new release on Feb. 22. The not-as-great news: it’s 7-track mini-album.

It’s been three years since ACO released her stunning 2003 album, irony, and now she returns with mask, so says The mini-album includes “Chuukoku”, produced by absolute ego collaborator Sunahara Yoshinori, the commercial song “guilty” and a remix of an old song, “Fuan no Onna”.

As soon as I’m done posting this entry, I’m ordering it. I didn’t even realize it’s been three years since irony. I did, however, feel a twinge an ACO jones a few weeks back and wondered when she would re-emerge.

I wonder if she’s turning into Kate Bush, with all these slow turn-around times.

toddle: I dedicate D chord

One of the hidden extras on Number Girl’s first DVD release, Sawayaka na Enesou, is video footage of guitarist Tabuchi Hisako singing “Mappurima Girl”.

It’s a performance she reprises during the career-capping Number Girl film. Karaoke makes anyone sound reasonable good, and in those clips, she sounds all right.

It’s a different story for I dedicate D chord, the debut album by toddle, which Tabuchi formed in 2003. There, she sings slightly off-key, sounding earnest and bittersweet.

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