| Apr 22, 2011

Japanese music fans need the shows to go on

Last month I wrote a hastily conceived piece for this column documenting the immediate reaction of the music scene in Tokyo to the Great East Japan Earthquake. It was a difficult article to write because the situation was still unfolding and so much was ...

The Monochrome Set

Apr 8, 2011

The Monochrome Set

In many ways, The Monochrome Set are the archetypal “Big in Japan” band. Formed in 1978 by a handful of Adam Ant’s former backing musicians, the band, featuring guitarist Lester Square’s faintly retro playing style and vocalist Ganesh “Bid” Seshadri’s dryly humorous lyrics, flew ...

Altz, Hotel Mexico to play weekend bash

Mar 25, 2011

Altz, Hotel Mexico to play weekend bash

A mid the continuing developments surrounding the March 11 earthquake, clubs and live venues, at least in Tokyo, are gradually getting back to their regular schedules, much to the relief of musicians and fans. This crawl back toward normality comes in good time for ...

Miila and the Geeks take Tokyo 'riot grrrl' sound international

Feb 11, 2011

Miila and the Geeks take Tokyo 'riot grrrl' sound international

A small girl, stylishly dressed in a short, black-and-white dress crouches hunched over a microphone, spitting out vocals that might be English or might be Martian for all the audience can tell beneath the thick overlay of distortion; a sax player with crazy hair ...

The Mornings reveal new depths on debut

Jan 21, 2011

The Mornings reveal new depths on debut

“I was in a mosh pit at (Tokyo concert venue) Koiwa Bushbash when Shingo landed on top of me and dislocated my shoulder.” Shinpei “Ponta” Watanabe, the vocalist, synth player and occasional guitarist of mutant posthardcore art-rockers The Mornings is explaining the injury that ...

Dec 31, 2010

2010's many charts tell a confusing tale

As seems to be becoming commonplace with these end-of-year roundups, the big music story was once again the rise (and rise) of AKB48 and their rapidly multiplying sister groups, SKE48 (named after their home at Nagoya’s Sunshine Sakae building), NMB48 (after Namba in Osaka) ...

Dec 10, 2010

Fukuoka harbors hotbed of new talent

Despite its far westerly location (being closer to Seoul than it is to Tokyo), the Kyushu city of Fukuoka has for a long time been one of the musical powerhouses of Japan. Fukuoka in the 1970s brought the nation “mentai-rock,” a brand of high ...