Merpeoples bewitch; The Party's . . . party

| Feb 26, 2010

Merpeoples bewitch; The Party's . . . party

by Simon Bartz

Four cute young women clad in ghostly white robes prance around in a forest holding twigs: No, it’s not an outtake from the classic 1973 pagan spookfest “The Wicker Man.” Yes, it is the excellent video for the Merpeoples’ spankingly sublime song “Sherman.” Singer/guitarist ...

Sweat to a girl riot; soak up Gypsy jazz

| Jan 22, 2010

Sweat to a girl riot; soak up Gypsy jazz

by Simon Bartz

“What’s that smell in here?” I ask The Harpy’s in the dressing room of the livehouse Motion, which lies at the butt end of the sleazy Kabukicho entertainment area in Tokyo’s central Shinjuku district. “It’s the smell of roses,” says bassist Maki Sato, her ...

Guitar Wolf return to silence the lambs

| Mar 27, 2009

Guitar Wolf return to silence the lambs

by Simon Bartz

“We’ve come back and we’re going to attack your planet with humongous love,” says Seiji (that’s Mr. Guitar Wolf himself) as he downs vegetable juice at a Jonathan’s family restuarant near Yoga Station in western Tokyo. I light a cigarette and look at him. ...

True icon of indie

| Feb 27, 2009

True icon of indie

by Simon Bartz

The Wedding Present’s latest album, “El Rey,” is one of the best records I’ve heard over the last few years and has also been widely lauded in the British music media. Criminally, it has not been picked up for distribution in Japan. But you’ll ...

| Jan 16, 2009

School's out

by Simon Bartz

Matilda isn’t waltzing. She’s sprinting toward me outside Shinsaibashi Station in Osaka with the speed of a Jamaican Olympian chewing cheetah gonads. A meter from me she screams “Simon!” and takes a flying leap, so I instinctively reach out and I’m holding this tiny ...

School's out

| Jan 16, 2009

School's out

by Simon Bartz

Matilda isn’t waltzing. She’s sprinting toward me outside Shinsaibashi Station in Osaka with the speed of a Jamaican Olympian chewing cheetah gonads. A meter from me she screams “Simon!” and takes a flying leap, so I instinctively reach out and I’m holding this tiny ...

Meet a band 35,000 years in the making

| Oct 17, 2008

Meet a band 35,000 years in the making

by Simon Bartz

When The Cro-Magnons played at this year’s Fuji Rock Festival, you could have sworn the Big Quake had hit, with its epicenter at the main Green Stage. The ground shook, minor tsunami were recorded in the streams running through the site and squirrels fell ...

Sympathy for the Maries

| Jul 11, 2008

Sympathy for the Maries

by Simon Bartz

All the boys are in their birthday suits and beautiful long-haired Ryohei Shima is mincing up toward me. Just think of a naked Mick Jagger — a 26-year-old one, that is — entering stage right on the set of a gay porn flick and ...

Monster mash

| Jun 6, 2008

Monster mash

by Simon Bartz

Explosion, the livehouse in Kagurazaka, central Tokyo, must have been named with nights like this in mind. Billy Trash, who’s covered in blood, has discarded his double bass and stripped to his tiny, gonad-garroting Batman underpants. He charges into the crowd, pouring water over ...

Set the controls to quirk factor 10

| Apr 25, 2008

Set the controls to quirk factor 10

by Simon Bartz

After listening to Tokyo Pinsalocks’ brilliant new minialbum “Planet Rita,” it’s frightening to think that the trio — bassist Hisayo, singer Naoko and drummer Reiko — almost sold their soul to the devil, and not the rock ‘n’ roll one at that, which would ...

Kyoto's Ultra-man in bedroom revolution

| Nov 16, 2007

Kyoto's Ultra-man in bedroom revolution

by Simon Bartz

“Shotgun Blues” is the latest track off Hidenori Fujiwara’s turbo-charged musical conveyor-belt of rock ‘n’ roll madness, and it’s a blast of bluesy punk that sounds like Kings of Leon being chain-whipped by Iggy Pop in a dark alley. “That song’s from Ultra Jr., ...

On the lamb in Amsterdam

| Jun 1, 2007

On the lamb in Amsterdam

by Simon Bartz

The band plays. And they rock. They’ve got two guitarists — that’s not new. And two drummers, which is pretty cool. But on top of all that they’ve got a sheep in the band. Yes, a sheep. As in, “baa, baa.” I am serious. ...