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Shawn Despres

Shawn Despres has been contributing to the Japan Times’ music page since 2005, and he has a passion for writing about the independent music scene in East Asia. He spent several years living in Yokohama and currently resides in Seoul.

For Shawn Despres's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Watusi Zombie 'N×A×R×A'

/ Jul 21, 2011

Watusi Zombie "N×A×R×A"

Nara-bred rock 'n' roll trio Watusi Zombie have played at Fuji Rock and toured in the United States. Their gigs are highly charged, chaotic affairs. Vocalist/guitarist Jugem Tanimura has been known to incoherently scream lyrics into a microphone decorated with a Buddha mask, and ...

Shonen Knife 'Osaka Ramones'

/ Jul 14, 2011

Shonen Knife "Osaka Ramones"

Shonen Knife, Japan's best-known alternative-rock band, are celebrating their 30th birthday. In honor of this occasion, the influential Osaka trio have a number of anniversary releases planned, the first being "Osaka Ramones," a tribute disc to the iconic American punk group the Ramones. The album ...

Lite 'For All the Innocence'

/ Jun 30, 2011

Lite "For All the Innocence"

One of Japan's top instrumental rock acts, Tokyo's Lite have performed at festivals such as Fuji Rock and Summer Sonic, and gigged throughout Asia, Europe and North America. They've also toured with such U.S. indie-music luminaries as Mike Watt and Lou Barlow, and have ...

Cinema Staff 'Cinema Staff'

/ Jun 9, 2011

Cinema Staff "Cinema Staff"

Now based in Tokyo, Gifu Prefecture-bred Cinema Staff played at the 2009 editions of both the Summer Sonic and Rock in Japan festivals. Formed in 2003, the indie-rock quartet issued three EPs prior to the release of their eponymous full-length debut. Throughout the album, Cinema ...

Festival season kicks into gear with Taico Club

Jun 2, 2011

Festival season kicks into gear with Taico Club

This weekend's Taico Club in Nagano Prefecture will be the first of four summer-festival appearances for Tokyo synth-pop/postpunk act Kimonos. Formed only last year, the duo of Leo Imai and Zazen Boys' Shutoku Mukai will also play at Fuji Rock (July 30), World Happiness ...

Boris 'Heavy Rocks'/'Attention Please'

/ May 26, 2011

Boris "Heavy Rocks"/"Attention Please"

Being a Boris completist is a daunting task. One of the country's most prolific underground acts, this year the Tokyo three-piece have already issued their "New Album" full-length and "Klatter," a vinyl-only collaboration with Japanese noise-artist Merzbow. They are back again with their two ...

8otto lively up themselves again

May 19, 2011

8otto lively up themselves again

Osaka's 8otto have a new album, a new label and a new mindset. The garage-rock/postpunk quartet's first three albums (2006's "We Do Viberation," 2007's "Real" and 2008's "Hyper, Hyp8r, Hyper") came out through BMG Japan (and are now housed on Sony subsidiary Ariola Japan after ...

The Cherry Coke$

/ May 12, 2011

The Cherry Coke$

Fuji Rock 2005 was a very memorable weekend for Celtic-punk-inspired act The Cherry Coke$. The Tokyo septet were invited to the popular summer outing to showcase cuts from their 2004 "Beer My Friends" debut on the festival's Rookie A Go-Go stage. While there, they ...

Ringo Deathstarr

/ Apr 22, 2011

Ringo Deathstarr

Mashing together Ringo Starr and the Death Star from "Star Wars" to create their name, noise-pop group Ringo Deathstarr were one the "buzz" bands at last month's South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas. With 2,000 acts performing over the ...

Meet a smoking new rock band

Apr 15, 2011

Meet a smoking new rock band

Formed in Fukuoka in 2005, The Cigavettes knew it would only be a matter of time before they relocated to Japan's capital. After years of discussing it, the melodic rockers finally packed up their instruments, along with their Beatles- and Rolling Stones-inspired catalogue of ...