Bands to watch

by Ian Martin

In addition to groups such as Garorinz, Folk Enough, Nontroppo and MacManaman, Fukuoka’s indie scene is still a hotbed of musical creativity. Here are some other bands worth paying attention to.

Probably the biggest band in the local scene now is emo/powerpop quintet Holidays of Seventeen. With a debut album produced by Weezer/Super Furry Animals producer Chris Shaw, they are pretty much guaranteed to be the next big thing to come out of Fukuoka.

Also among Fukuoka’s younger bands, Iriko and Band A have proved popular, with a style drawing from the Number Girl-influenced sound that came out of the city in the late 1990s — a sound club employee Seiji Harajiri describes, with a hint of irony, as “smells like Space Shower TV.”

No discussion of the undeground scene would be complete without mentioning the superb I Want City, a funk-punk duo with a sound reminiscent of 1980s Bristol new-wave bands such as Rip Rig & Panic and Maximum Joy. Also, formed summer 2010 in the wake of the dissolution of the excellent Me I Sashimi, Z/NZ have rapidly established themselves as hard-drinking postrock femmes fatales.

For those seeking a less raucous thrill, all-girl avant-pop supergroup Miu Mau trade in sweet, catchy pop melodies, delivered with Stereolab-like sophistication (declaration of bias: I have released two albums by guitarist Hiromi Kajiwara’s other band, Hyacca, through my own label, and couldn’t be objective about how great this band are if I tried). Also providing a more refined pop sensibility are boy/girl duo Amorphous, whose laptop and synth-based electropop has been lighting up live venues and art galleries around Kyushu this last couple of years.