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Joe Kern

For Joe Kern's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Jack Peñate

Music / Concert Previews Aug 31, 2007

Jack Peñate

Jack Peñate wants to inject human feeling into pop music again. And not just in the vocals — he wants it in every last note played. He and his crack band, Joel Porter (bass) and Alex Robins (drums), play a lively, sometimes frenetic mix ...

Music / CD Reviews Jun 29, 2007

Malajube "Trompe L'oeil"

If the first you hear of Malajube is the single "Montreal -40 C," you may dismiss them as an undistinguished, shiny-happy Euro-pop rock act thrown together in homage to The Cardigans. This would be a tragic, but understandable, error, since it's not until the ...

Music / CD Reviews May 4, 2007

Feist "The Reminder"

Leslie Feist traipses the map for inspiration, literally and figuratively. Indie rock and its melange of alternatively low- and hi-fi sounds comes through in the Canadian's music and in her moonlighting gig with Broken Social Scene, one of that aesthetic's most convincing purveyors. But ...

Music / CD Reviews Apr 27, 2007

Maximo Park "Our Earthly Pleasures"

This year marks about the fifth birthday of the post-punk revival that has seen tightly dressed lads in Europe and cosmopolitan hipsters in America playing danceable rock. Of this clique, Maximo Park are the eccentric artsy and intellectual guys from northeast England who come ...

Music / CD Reviews Nov 24, 2006

Joanna Newsom "Ys"

Joanna Newsom possesses genius on a ridiculous number of levels. She plays pixie folk music on a harp, but doesn't rest on the mere novelty of the idea. Her lyrics are stream-of-consciousness, but she has two things that run counter to this type of ...

Music / CD Reviews Aug 25, 2006

Be Your Own Pet "Be Your Own Pet"

Fast-playing BYOP sparked an indie buzz in 2005 as a raw, late-teens rock band from Nashville with an archetypal post-punk hellcat in lead singer/yelper Jemina Pearl Abegg. The buzz built up further after they launched a string of three hot singles without releasing an ...

Music / Concert Previews May 12, 2006

Fatboy Slim

Fatboy Slim, aka Norman Cook, is the DJ everyone can love: drunken college meatheads, glow-stick-toting ravers, classic rock lovers and parents of small children alike. His popularity has gone beyond mere love for his music; it has crept into the arena of institutional adoration. ...

Music / Concert Previews Mar 10, 2006

Kings of Convenience

In 2001, when Kings of Convenience's first album was released (the near-perfect "Quiet is the New Loud"), it was almost an antidote to the humorless introspection of their contemporaries: the teen angst of Dashboard Confessional, the poetic depression of Elliot Smith, and politely existential ...

Music / CD Reviews Feb 24, 2006

Beth Orton "Comfort of Strangers"

British singer/songwriter Beth Orton's fourth album, "Comfort of Strangers," does little that is new, but that's not to say it's a disappointment. The 14 tracks are among her best, and are far more concise and instantly likable than those on 2002's "Daybreaker." Famed experimental ...

Sufjan Stevens: "Illinois"

Music / CD Reviews Aug 21, 2005

Sufjan Stevens: "Illinois"

Sounding at times like The Moody Blues' "Days of Future Past" as interpreted by a roomful of high-school band geeks, "Illinois" is a 22-track concept album loosely based on the U.S. state of Illinois. This alone may sound ambitious in the era iPod random ...