Patrick St. Michel
Patrick St. Michel is a Tokyo-based writer with a focus on Japanese music. He runs the blog Make Believe Melodies, which has focused on Japanese independent music since 2009. Besides The Japan Times, he also contributes to MTV 81 and The Atlantic.
For Patrick St. Michel's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Oct 6, 2011
Record label Second Royal won't just be putting on a concert this Sunday in their hometown of Kyoto, but rather a state-of-Japanese-indie-music address. The imprint's event at Club Metro features some of Japan's most buzzed (and blogged) about artists going today. Past gigs point to this being a great live event, but it will also be a chance to see a handful of Japanese artists who are poised to grab attention both domestically and overseas next year.
Sep 22, 2011
Sep 15, 2011
Ogre You Asshole's "Homely" practically begs to be considered as the band's artistic leap forward. The band has traded in the guitar-centric, 1990s-indie sound of its previous releases for a slower-moving vibe featuring an abundance of bongos and saxophone. It's a challenging LP to dive into: the catchy immediacy of the group's past is replaced by random vocal samples and soft-rock signifiers. Yet Ogre's shift in sonic direction on "Homely" comes off like giving a flophouse a fresh coat of paint — new sounds trying to distract from plodding, go-nowhere songs.
Sep 1, 2011
Miila and the Geeks show a great aptitude for the past on their debut album "New Age." The generally fuzzy atmosphere of the whole record evokes 1960s garage rock, with lead singer Moe Wadaka's sinisterly sexy vocals conjuring up early PJ Harvey. The inclusion of a mind-of-its-own saxophone winds up linking the group to the jittery no-wave movement. But this Tokyo trio rise above just being a history textbook, blending bits and pieces of yesteryear together into a sound all their own to create one of the best Japanese albums of 2011.
Aug 18, 2011
Jul 21, 2011
Earlier this year, indie-rock group Beach House found themselves in unfamiliar territory. Two of the Baltimore duo's older tracks were sampled by much buzzed-about R&B project The Weeknd on their hyped-up debut mixtape meaning once intimate dream-pop was now serving as the soundtrack for drug-powered sex jams. Beach House lead singer and organist Victoria Legrand says she's completely fine with that.
Jul 7, 2011
Now three albums deep into their career, indie-poppers andymori still lean on youthful energy to carry their music instead of songwriting smarts. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as "Kakumei" ("Revolution") features a handful of energetic pop numbers that know how to leave an impression without lingering around in your head too long. Yet the trio's best moments on this release take up less than half of "Kakumei's" already anemic 29-minute runtime, the rest of which is filled up by ho-hum attempts at J-rock and meandering slow numbers.
Jun 9, 2011
In another time, Caroline Lufkin could easily have ended up as a chart-topping J-pop star. After graduating from Boston's Berklee School Of Music, the Okinawa-born artist moved to Tokyo, where she began working on her first album. Her management at the time wanted Lufkin (who performs simply as Caroline) to go down the same road her big sister Olivia Lufkin did. Her path to the Oricon charts was being paved right in front of her.
May 26, 2011
The story behind Gellers seems like the stuff of made-for-TV movies. A bunch of kids meet one another on the outskirts of the city, and eventually form a band. They stick together and, despite a few setbacks, release an album and tour the country as adults. There are no scripts to be found here, though.
May 19, 2011
"Kono Tokimeki Ima Sugu" (which translates loosely as "This fluttering of my heart, now") serves as a bit of a homecoming for hyper-speed pop trio MacDonald Duck Eclair. Their third album and first in five years comes out on K.O.G.A. Records, the label responsible for releasing the band's debut single in 1999. Despite this full-circle move, MacDonald Duck Eclair's latest finds them sounding virtually the same as they did when they started at K.O.G.A. "Ima Sugu" flirts with poppier structure, but does so without forfeiting the breakneck pace established on earlier releases.
May 5, 2011
Osaka artist Oorutaichi has long tried to test listeners' ears by blending together many disparate styles, so much so as to render the concept of "genre" irrelevant when discussing his music. For an upcoming concert in Tokyo he hopes to further challenge the sensory experience through the addition of celluloid.
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