Japan image that resonates

| Oct 17, 2002

Japan image that resonates

by Steve McClure

Ichitaro Nakanoshima likes nothing better than to spend the late morning watching videos of old musicals like “Singin’ in the Rain.” Nakanoshima, though, is no slacker. Before settling down to watch Gene Kelly trip the light fantastic, he starts his day at 6 a.m. ...

The Captains chart retro course

| Oct 9, 2002

The Captains chart retro course

by Steve McClure

Nostalgia is a dangerous thing. In the wrong hands, it can be an outlet for excessive sentimentality and out-and-out kitsch. In the right hands, however, it can be a healthy look at the past, an appreciation of what has gone before that doesn’t dogmatically ...

So you're a wannabe J-pop star?

| Sep 25, 2002

So you're a wannabe J-pop star?

by Steve McClure

Yellow Magic Orchestra burst upon the scene in the late ’70s with a refreshing and original blend of pop music and electronic sounds that established a new pop template and influenced musicians all over the world. The band broke up in 1983 and, apart ...

Talk about the passion . . .

| Sep 18, 2002

Talk about the passion . . .

by Steve McClure

Can Kiyoshi Hikawa save enka? Enka — usually, but imperfectly, translated as “Japanese ballads” — has fallen to an all-time low in terms of popularity, accounting for less than 10 percent of music sales in Japan. One of the problems with enka is its ...

Putting the J in J-punk

| Sep 11, 2002

Putting the J in J-punk

by Steve McClure

It’s taken a while, but punk rock seems to have finally broken into the J-pop mainstream. Punk bands that have recently made it into the Oricon album chart include Nicotine, the Stance Punks, Sobut (whose name, by the way, stands for “Sons of Bitches ...

Rock 'n' roll is here to stay

| Jul 31, 2002

Rock 'n' roll is here to stay

by Steve McClure

The silly season — when the midsummer heat engenders a sort of benign lunacy — is well and truly upon us. And you can’t get much sillier, in the nicest sense of the word, than The Yellow Dogs and The Bunnies, two resolutely retro ...

Women whose work is never done

| Jul 24, 2002

Women whose work is never done

by Steve McClure

“Senko (Flash),” singer/songwriter UA’s first single in three years, further cements her status as one of J-pop’s most enigmatic and original artists. Released July 24, “Senko” is a dark, moody piece that’s half tone poem and half pop song. UA and co-producer Rei Harakami ...

Really looking forward to old age

| Jul 17, 2002

Really looking forward to old age

by Steve McClure

Rock stars can do things us regular folks can’t. They can get good tables at crowded restaurants without a reservation. They can have promiscuous sex and take all sorts of exotic drugs and then be knighted by the Queen. And if they’re Eikichi Yazawa, ...

A card-carrying regular guy

| Jul 10, 2002

A card-carrying regular guy

by Steve McClure

One interesting aspect of Japanese meishi (name-card) etiquette is that entertainers never give them out. It took me a while to figure out that one. Several interviews with musicians I thought had begun inauspiciously when I handed the artist my meishi only to receive ...

Make way for the gloom

| Jul 3, 2002

Make way for the gloom

by Steve McClure

Mr. Hyde is waiting to be interviewed in the chicly decrepit confines of Casa del Japon, a Western-style house in Azabu that was the residence of China’s ambassador to Japan before World War II and is now a bar and restaurant. He is sitting ...