Record stores fuel Nagoya's scene

Nov 3, 2011

Record stores fuel Nagoya's scene

Despite having had its musical reputation sullied by Yasushi Akimoto’s decision to make it the home of SKE48, the first offshoot of pop-idol army AKB48, Nagoya is home to one of Japan’s most vibrant independent music scenes. Going back into its history, the capital ...

The Human League know you still want them

Oct 13, 2011

The Human League know you still want them

Emerging out of the late-1970s new-wave scene in the English industrial town of Sheffield alongside fellow electronic and synthpop luminaries such as ABC, Cabaret Voltaire and Heaven 17, The Human League was one of the bands that defined the sound of the ’80s, with ...

The cute 'n' kooky world of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Japan's newest pop idol

Sep 29, 2011

The cute 'n' kooky world of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Japan's newest pop idol

A recurring theme in the Strange Boutique column has been the question of what has gone wrong with pop music in Japan. Amid discussions of the pernicious influence of advertising agencies, record industry conservatism in the face of declining sales, and the faceless, self-replicating ...

(M)otocompo's  theater challenges stale indie scene

Sep 8, 2011

(M)otocompo's theater challenges stale indie scene

Shuffling onto the stage in a flurry of robotic jerks come three men wearing glazed expressions and identical striped tops. In time with the retro-futurist synthesizer chirps and bleeps, they then lurch into a kind of clockwork dance routine, while a fourth man, wearing ...

Aug 25, 2011

Avoid the sins of playing live in the grimy clubs of Japan

Spend a lot of time trawling the grimy-toilet venues of the Tokyo music scene and, apart from gaining an encyclopaedic knowledge of how to smuggle alcohol past staff members guarding the doors of various venues, you will start to pick up on the minutiae ...

| Jul 28, 2011

Tis the season for some girl-pop classics

In Japan, observation of the seasons is an ingrained cultural trait that not only forms the basis of haiku poetry and many classic works of art, but also marks the calendar for cultural ephemera from special-edition Kit Kats to alcoholic drinks to pop music. ...

She Talks Silence aim for live experience on new mini-album

Jul 7, 2011

She Talks Silence aim for live experience on new mini-album

When a band kicks off an interview with a statement like “We don’t do gigs, we do performances,” you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in the presence of a group of uncompromising, postindustrial noise punks. However, for indie-pop group She Talks Silence, this ...

AKB48 'Koko ni Ita Koto'

Jun 16, 2011

AKB48 "Koko ni Ita Koto"

Beneath the media frenzy over the “election” of this year’s front line members, behind the coy faced but otherwise absurdly blatant evocation of teen sex imagery, and far from the bizarre stories of the otaku (obsessive) fan who bought thousands of copies of the ...