Dec 17, 2010

Kara "Girl's Talk" ; 4Minute "Diamond"

There’s been a lot of hand-wringing this year about South Korea threatening to overtake Japan in everything from international diplomacy to technology. In pop music, though, it’s already happened. The chart-topping success of now-defunct boy band TVXQ (known as Tohoshinki in Japan) was just ...

Owen Pallett

Dec 10, 2010

Owen Pallett

At the tail end of last year, Canadian musician Owen Pallett issued a brief statement that he would be “voluntarily retiring” his stage name. For the previous five years, the songwriter and violin virtuoso had been producing ornate orchestral pop under the moniker Final ...

Hard-knock life leads to magic music

| Sep 24, 2010

Hard-knock life leads to magic music

In 2004, Renaud Barret and Florent de la Tullaye ditched their respectable jobs in France and headed to Kinshasa. In the ruined capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country just emerging from one of postcolonial Africa’s worst conflicts, they felt strangely at ...

Hippies and hipsters brave a soggy Fuji Rock

Aug 6, 2010

Hippies and hipsters brave a soggy Fuji Rock

When you’re talking about a music festival whose inaugural event was literally wiped out by a typhoon, it can feel a bit petty to complain about the weather. All the same, campers arriving at Fuji Rock Festival in Naeba on Thursday last week might ...

Fuji Rock Festival: Atoms For Peace

| Jul 2, 2010

Fuji Rock Festival: Atoms For Peace

It sounded like a practical joke at first: Radiohead’s Thom Yorke starting a band with frat-funk bassist Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers? But after a string of successful dates in the United States, including California’s Coachella Festival, it’s clear that Atoms for ...

Asian Kung-Fu Generation 'Magic Disk'

Jun 25, 2010

Asian Kung-Fu Generation "Magic Disk"

When The Japan Times asked a bunch of musicians last December to name the most influential Japanese artist from the past decade, Asian Kung-Fu Generation’s Masafumi Goto went for Shutoku Mukai. It was a telling, if not particularly surprising, choice. Goto and Co. were ...

DJ Yogurt & Koyas: 'Chill Out'

Mar 12, 2010

DJ Yogurt & Koyas: "Chill Out"

British dance duo The KLF birthed a monster with their 1990 album “Chill Out.” A 44-minute ambient collage that mixed snatches of the group’s own material with field recordings and samples of Elvis, throat singers and Fleetwood Mac, it would become the de facto ...

Shibusashirazu Orchestra set to sprawl

Mar 5, 2010

Shibusashirazu Orchestra set to sprawl

Things got off to a memorable start at England’s Glastonbury Festival in 2002. Revelers were roused from their tents on the first morning to find the main Pyramid Stage overrun by a 40-strong Japanese big band, complete with costumed performance artists, butoh and go-go ...

Tomori 'Utagoe no Minato'

Jan 29, 2010

Tomori "Utagoe no Minato"

Would it be premature to hail this as the best early-Showa period album of 2010? Osaka duo Tomari’s debut album pays little heed to the stylistic advances of the past half-century, turning instead to the music of prewar Japan for inspiration. It’s a sound ...