Monthly Archives: February 2007

Vola releases an album, Zazen loses a member

VOLA & THE ORIENTAL MACHINE is set to release its first full-length album on April 11, so says The album includes the pre-release single, "Hane no Hikari", as well as other songs used as commercial background music. A remix of the track "Yume Shindan" by Hayashi of Polysics serves as a hidden track.

While Vola prepares to release its album, ZAZEN BOYS is losing its bassist, so says as well. Hinata Hidekazu, who also plays with Straightener and FULLARMOR, joins Nakamura Tatsuya (Blankey Jet City, LOSALIOS) and Tabu zombie (SOIL & "PIMP" Sessions) for a new project.

365 Days, 365 Files: Bonnie Pink – 過去と現実 (Kako to Genjitsu)

"Kako to Genjitsu" was the first song I listened to from Bonnie Pink. When I was researching Japanese music back in 2000, I read some tenuous comparisons between Bonnie Pink and Cocco. Essentially, neither of them were pop idols, and both of them wrote their own songs.

So I jumped onto the Evil Sharing Networks and acquired "Kako to Genjitsu". The smooth beat and Bonnie’s cool voice got my attention right away, and before I knew it, I was the owner of her major label debut, Let Go.

I burned a copy for my brother, and he told me he liked what he heard. I didn’t realize how much till I went home to Hawaiʻi one year.

He had two DVDs, as well as a number of albums and singles. He even introduced Bonnie Pink to the owner of a local Japanese bookstore.

I rather like that kind of ripple effect.

For me, Bonnie Pink isn’t an infallible artist. Some of her creative choices have baffled me, and others left me speechless. But she’s always willing to take chances, and that willingness to try keeps me interested in her work.

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365 Days, 365 Files: Bonkin’ Clapper – Warp!!

I knew when I bought Bonkin’ Clapper’s Bonkanesia from the Japan Nite merchandise table it would be a future cutout.

Not that Bonkin’ Clapper didn’t put on a good showcase. Nor was Bonkanesia a bad mini album.

But for the kind of rap-rock the group performed, it was going to be a hard sell in a world where Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit were showing their age. Besides, what could Bonkin’ Clapper provide that wasn’t already supplied by RIZE and Missile Girl Scoot?

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365 Days, 365 Files: Bloque – Nena

If I played a game of word association with you, what would be the first thing you think of when I say "Colombia"?

The unfortunate answer would be "cocaine". The answer it should be is "music".

When I was exploring rock en Español in the late ’90s, a good number of the artists I encountered were from Colombia — Aterciopelados, Juanes, Shakira, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs and Soraya. The country has produced some of the most vital artists in Latin music.

Bloque also came from Colombia, and the band recorded a very high-profile album for David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label.

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365 Days, 365 Files: bloodthirsty butchers – サンザン (Sanzan)

It took a while before the addition of Tabuchi Hisako to the bloodthirsty butchers’ line-up had a noticeable impact in the studio. 2004’s birdy was the first studio album on which the former Number Girl guitarist served as a full-time member.

Unlike Number Girl, bloodthirsty butchers doesn’t give much room for guitar solos, an area where Tabuchi excels. Also, the band’s writing isn’t designed with a twin approach in mind.

But on 2005’s banging the drum, Tabuchi’s guitar became a potent force in the butchers’ sound. And Yoshimura Hideki put Tabuchi in a role she didn’t have in Number Girl — backing vocals.

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365 Days, 365 Files: bloodthirsty butchers – Lucky man

bloodthirsty butchers’ follow-up to yamane, titled Kooya ni OKERU bloodthirsty butchers, found the group getting back to its rougher sound. They hadn’t, however, forgotten the songwriting craft employed on the previous album. Coupled with a more concise writing style, the album became one of the group’s tightest.

Toward the end, Kooya ni OKERU bloodthirsty butchers (translation: "bloodthirsty butchers in the wilderness") harkens back to the slower mood of yamane. Till then, the butchers barrel through the first half of the album.

"Lucky man" is simple but dischordant, monotone but rhythmic. Yoshimura Hideki delivers an self-unconscious performance on the track, and the band sounds messy and unhinged.

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365 Days, 365 Files: bloodthirsty butchers – happy end

bloodthirsty butchers — the name alone sounds like trouble.

In reality, the butchers are one of the most respected bands in Japan. They inspired two tribute albums — one on a major label, the other on an indie label — and they’ve opened for the likes of Beck, J Mascis and Rage Against the Machine. After more than a decade of being a trio, they recruited Tabuchi Hisako as a second guitarist when her tenure with Number Girl ended.

When bloodthirsty butchers released yamane in 2001, it had been six years since the release of the band’s previous album. I never learned what accounted for the Lucinda Williams-like pause in the band’s career.

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Union member

I like Chara, but I’m not as big a fan of hers as I am of ACO or Shiina Ringo. That said, I’ve really liked the last three singles she’s released, and I’ve been looking forward to the album on which they’ll be included.

I won’t have to wait long.

Union, Chara’s newest album of original material in four years, is being released on Feb. 28, so says In addition to "Fantasy", "Sekai" and "Crazy for You", the album includes the ending theme to the film Freesia, "Niji wo Wataru Heiwa ga Kita".

Chara is also one of the many guest collaborators on m-flo’s upcoming album, which also includes performances Bonnie Pink, Doping Panda and Suzuki Ami. (Also said by