| Feb 28, 2016

Icy Kanazawa, sunny Naha: A tale of two live scenes

I have been traveling around the country since September meeting people involved in different independent music scenes in such places as Hokkaido, and Iwate and Saitama prefectures. After taking a break over winter, I resumed my travels this month and headed to the contrasting ...

Melt-Banana, The Fin among acts at gig set in old bathhouse

Feb 7, 2016

Melt-Banana, The Fin among acts at gig set in old bathhouse

“To get the community onboard with the show, we made some flyers with photos of us on that make us look like cult leaders,” she says. “We were trying to look as wholesome as possible, which didn’t really work too well.” For curator Ella ...

| Jan 24, 2016

Afrirampo reunion may save 2016

While 2016 kicked off for most of the music world with David Bowie tricking hundreds of thousands of people into buying a jazz-prog concept album about death, the message from the heart of J-pop was loud and clear: “DO NOT WORRY, NOTHING WILL EVER ...

Z/nz finds the right kind of wrong on debut album

Jan 10, 2016

Z/nz finds the right kind of wrong on debut album

‘We were outside the station at Yahata in Kitakyushu and there was this festival going on — this group of old guys playing in a band with all these young people dancing. It was a strange scene — what kind of festival is this? ...

The best Japanese indie albums of 2015

| Dec 27, 2015

The best Japanese indie albums of 2015

While it remains this column’s firm conviction that J-pop is trapped in a self-perpetuating dark age, the indie and underground music scenes provide a far livelier picture of Japan’s musical landscape. In 2015, there was such a flow of fascinating new releases arriving from ...

The complexities of living too close to Tokyo

| Nov 27, 2015

The complexities of living too close to Tokyo

While traveling in the northeastern part of Japan last month, I was struck by the way quirky, alternative and avant-garde music carves out a space for itself in parts of the country that are isolated from the major cultural centers. Since moving on into ...