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CD REVIEW

Best Japanese/overseas albums of 2010: Tokyo Gig Guide

by Craig Exton

Lemon’s Chair — “[I Hate? I Hope?]”

I saw Osaka’s Lemon’s Chair at one of the excellent Total Feedback gigs at High in Tokyo’s Koenji neighborhood and was mesmerized by their loud waves of sonic guitar. This year’s album “[I Hate? I Hope?]” captured some of that controlled melodic My-Bloody-Valentine-esque noise on tracks such as “Halcyon” and the gorgeous nine-minute opening song, “Swallowtail.” Just two guitars and drums, Lemon’s Chair have the perfect formula for shoegaze — guitars way up, no vocals, and just simple beats to accompany. All this shoegazing is balanced by the other tracks on the album, covering ambient postrock and Cocteau Twins-like dream pop.

Gonjasufi — “A Sufi and a Killer”

I picked up “A Sufi and a Killer” simply because it was on Warp Records, and it turned out to be the best purchase of 2010. Nothing else like it was released this year. Gonjasufi is a dreadlocked yoga teacher from the Mojave Desert who sings and raps on this album through crackly mikes in a drowsy, husky voice. The fittingly dusty lo-fi production is by The Gaslamp Killer, who has dug up some beautiful 1960s and ’70s psychedelic samples from the likes of Turkish psych-guitar legend Erkin Koray and forgotten Bollywood soundtracks. The 19 mostly downtempo tunes on this album wander all over the place, from hazy blues to mystic trip-hop to fuzzy stoner rock. I discovered the best hangover cure is to sit cross-legged on the floor, light some candles, have some tea, and play this album on repeat.

Tokyo Gig Guide is a bilingual guide to live music events around Tokyo with recommended shows regularly added by users. The site includes useful gig-going information and details on close to 500 venues.