Monthly Archives: March 2008

Has it been that long?

This year marks the tenth Japan Nite I’ve attended. My first was 1999, and that evening introduced me to MISSILE GIRL SCOOT, eX-Girl, NUMBER GIRL and Nicotine.

I saw something in my RSS reader stating Utada Hikaru’s First Love album will turn 10 soon. It had me wondering what other albums by Japanese artists are reaching their their 10th anniversary.

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Wing/Avengers in Sci-Fi/Quartz-head 02/detroit7, SXSW 2008, March 14, 2008

When SXSW comes to downtown Austin, it’s a rumbling of clashing rhythms and a cacophony of dueling bands. Charles Ives might have dug it.

Despite the festival’s best efforts to provide sanctuaries away from all the posturing noise, a reminder of its rock ‘n ‘roll foundation is never far away. A number of shamisen performers at Japan Traditional Nite in 2006 had to compete with the neighboring bands pounding away on a patio. Even at the Steve Reich showcase, quieter moments of a piece allowed the noise from outside to bleed through the windows.

And so it was with Wing’s debut at SXSW. Her showcase was housed in a room above a bar neighboring Maggie Mae’s, where another band made a ruckus. Maggie Mae’s actually hosted two other bands at the same time, so Wing’s performance was assaulted by all sides.

How could she compete with that?

Toward the end of her showcase, the strain of trying to hear over the bleed through the floors and windows was starting to show, and the audience itself, engaged in the first half of her set, were tuning out as well.


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Baiting the bait, or fuck you X7G

I was wondering how some of my SXSW-related entries ended up on a blog-scraping site called X7G. It looks like it’s grabbing the content from Technorati. And it doesn’t seem to get it right either. So I’m going to tag this entry SXSW to see if that’s really the case.

If you pinged content to Technorati, chances are X7G has re-purposed it for its own sleazy ends. Fucking leech.

English Beat/Bam Bam, SXSW 2008, March 13, 2008

I have to confess the English Beat is a glaring hole in my music knowledge. I guess it’s one of those bands I should have grown up listening to but didn’t. I only recognize English Beat because of General Public, whose Top 40 hit "Tenderness" actually managed to reach the airwaves of Honolulu in the mid-’80s. I only vaguely remember the connection between the Beat and Fine Young Cannibals.

Despite that name recognition, I wasn’t on planning to go to the English Beat showcase at SXSW. But Thursday night ended up being a nomadic night, and I ended up there because a friend of mine didn’t realize they were playing and wanted to go.

"Mirror in the Bathroom" was the only thing I recognized because of its use in the soundtrack for Grosse Pointe Blank. And yes, Dave Wakeling, who’s essentially using the name, did bust out "Tenderness" toward the end of the set.

But nope — "Save It for Later" and "Twist and Crawl" didn’t register with me at all. It was like the Bob Mould showcase from last year. I recognized only two songs he played, even though his career spans a good few decades and a number of projects.

Wakeling was the only member of note in the line-up. As Wikipedia explains, Wakeling goes by the English Beat in the US, while Ranking Roger goes by the Beat in the UK. My friend dug the show, but all I could do was just shrug.

It was still a good show, but with my lack of history with the band, it didn’t resonate nearly as much as with the rest of the audience.

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Steve Reich and friends, ‘Reich, Rags and Road Movies’, SXSW 2008, March 12, 2008

On more than one occassion, I was standing no fewer than 5 feet from Steve Reich, and in two instances, he was right in front of me. It was the opportunity for a fanboy moment, but I’m not exactly a fanboy. I’ve been an admirer of his work for years and only recently — i.e. with the purchase of the Phases boxed set — did I become a fan.

No, I was content to say nothing. What could I say that he probably hadn’t heard all evening? I was content to revel in one of those SXSW moments where the most unlikely confluence of events just so happens in my general vicinity.

Like sitting next to Tabuchi Hisako before Japan Nite 2000, at a time when I wasn’t really a fan of NUMBER GIRL. Or watching M join the stage with eX-Girl for a rousing rendition of "Pop Muzik". Or seeing ZZTop’s Billy Gibson wandering the crowd of Puffy Ami Yumi’s one and only SXSW performance in 2000. Or almost ringing up Elijah Wood’s purchases at Waterloo Records.

Standing next to Steve Reich at a concert of his own works? This week is prone to such situations.

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Tsu*Shi*Ma*Mi*Re releases new album in May

SXSW alumni Tsu*Shi*Ma*Mi*Re releases a new album titled Tsu*Shi*Ma*Mi*Re to Rock to Beer on May 21, so says It’s been 10 months since the release of the band’s previous album, Brain Shortcake, and for the new album, the band worked with engineer Saitou Masataka (ART-SCHOOL, MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS) and producer Kataoka Taishi (Yaida Hitomi). A domestic tour to support the album is currently in the works. hosts gay musician showcase at SXSW, The Advocate and ShoutTexas host a gay and lesbian showcase called RockOut during SXSW. It’s one of those pesky hanger-on shows that the festival doesn’t like, and it’s happening on Thursday night, the one night I’m leaving pretty wide open.

I’m tempted to check it out, if only because I haven’t been to Oilcan Harry’s in years, and I’ve never stepped inside Rain. One thing, however, makes me hesitant — the music itself.

For some reason, "emerging independent gay artist" is code for "sad gay folkie". All of the musicians featured on the program are all singer-songwriter types armed with the requisite acoustic guitar. Yes, I understand SXSW is held in Austin, Texas, a magnet for singer-songwriters, and the town is overrun with them during the five nights of the music festival. But when you’ve got R.E.M., Steve Reich, Wing and toddle playing at the same week-long event, maybe some of that diversity could have rubbed off?

I’m not expecting the Gossip, the Magnetic Fields or Matmos, but between Ari Gold, Sacha Sacket, Dylan Rice, Office and — to throw the curve out really far — Jennifer Higdon, gay musicians make all kinds of music. Why focus only on the folk ilk?

The perfect storm of SXSW, oak allergies and writer’s block

My SXSW 2008 checklist:

  • Shows I want to see loaded on my iPod Nano calendar? Check. (I have to say carrying my tiny Nano around was incredibly convenient. Far more than folding up a copy of the showcase schedule from the Austin Chronicle.)
  • Wristband picked up? Check. (The friendly SXSW folks put it on you, so I’m saddled with this thing till Sunday. It’s not so bad so long as it stays dry.)
  • Cash? I’ll withdraw some from the credit union on Wednesday.
  • Cigarettes? I’ll pick some up the next time I gas up, which should be soon. I think, though, most of the venues I’m going to have no patios, therefore, the smoking ban is in place.
  • Phone charged? Yes, but I’d better recharge it on Wednesday.

So yes, the SXSW 2008 music festival begins in two days. Last year, I attempted to write about the festival, but I was so exhausted by the end, I didn’t replace some temporary entries with real ones. I’m not going to promise I’ll do any better this year.

The myriad of oak trees in the Central Texas area get frisky this time of year, and they get their horniest at the start of April. I’m pretty sure I’ll be basket case around then, despite copious amounts of Zyrtec in my system. I also did a marathon of writing over at, putting up reviews of movies I watched … last year.

In other words, I’m kind of tapped out at the moment. I find myself wanting to start a weblog entry, only to back out and do something else entirely. The backlog of reviews grows yet again, but I’m going to ignore it till, oh, maybe mid-April? For now, I’ll post when I encounter something newsworthy. I also have a number of Favorite Editions of Years Past saved up.

See you all on the other side …

Favorite edition 1995

The fact I can’t make a full list of ten indicates how far off my judgment was in 1995. I bought a lot of music that year, no doubt, but I also let a lot of it go.

John Zorn launched Tzadik Records that year, and he promptly reissued a number of albums released only in Japan. Burgeoning student composer that I was, I snapped up a whole bunch of those initial Tzadik releases hoping to glean something instructional. It didn’t quite work out that way.

Emmylou Harris also released Wrecking Ball late that year, and it pretty much squeezed out everything else. Combing through my collection, I noticed a number of greatest hits collections from that year. I kind of remember going through a nostalgic period right around that time.

I thought about shoehorning one more title, but that just felt dishonest. Why rank something for which I don’t feel any real passion? So a list of nine, it is.

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Ueda Gen passes away at age 47

Ueda Gen, a former member of LA-PPISCH and the songwriter behind Hajime Chitose’s big hit "Wadatsumi no Ki", passed away on March 9, reports He was 47.

Ueda announced he had cancer two years ago, and he would give his treatment undivided attention. Services for Ueda happen on March 13 at Sennichidanikaidou.

Ueda co-wrote and produced much of Hajime’s first releases, from the self-titled covers EP to her second album, Nomad Soul. He contributed two tracks to her third album, Hanadairo.

Before devoting his time as a songwriter and producer, Ueda played keyboard and saxophone for the ska band LA-PPISCH from 1984 to 2002. LA-PPISCH recorded for Speedstar Records before moving to Universal Music in the late ’90s. The band went on hiatus in 2003 but reunited for the Rising Rock Music Festival in 2007.