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After The Beatles played Budokan in 1966, hordes of Japanese kids descended on their local barber shops bearing a photo of their favorite member of the band and demanding a moptop. Then they’d buy a guitar, form a band in their bedroom and mimic the sound of their British Invasion heroes, be they the Fab Four, The Rolling Stones or The Yardbirds, while — of course — annoying the hell out of their parents.

Now, in 2005, the same thing seems to be happening again, except this time round maybe we’ll see a few parents in the audience.

Hundreds of bands sprang up between 1966 and 1969, and this mushrooming movement became known as Group Sounds, with some of the most famous combos being The Spiders, The Mops and The Golden Cups.

Why Group Sounds? Legend has it that when singer/actor/TV presenter Yuzo Kayama invited Jackey Yoshikawa & The Blue Comets on to his show, Kayama ribbed Yoshikawa about his pronunciation of “rokku ando rorru.” Kayama then challenged Yoshikawa to come up with a term that could easily rorru off the Japanese tongue. Yoshikawa replied: “Let’s call it Group Sounds.” And the name stuck.

But this isn’t a history lesson. This is a guide to a new wave of Group Sounds-style bands that are elbowing aside the more raucous garage-rock types and in the process creating Japan’s most exciting musical trend of the moment.

The fact that this ’60s revival takes its clothing cues from flamboyant mod and psychedelic styles adds to its appeal. The fashion-obsessed Japanese kids can let their otaku side run wild and splash their hard-earned cash on rare, dead-stock clothes and fabrics at thrift stores, and at the same time put punks and rockers in their tribal uniforms of leather and denim to shame.

Group Sounds was all about absorbing new influences and experimenting with new styles, and the bands presented on this page reflect the diversity of the current ’60s-inspired scene — from the playful guitar-pop of Goggle-A to the Showa-pop of Tiger Lily.

Bands on the run

The Captains

Who: Kizuhiko (guitar/vocals), Hizashi (g), Ted (bass), Youske (drums)

Hometown: Sendai

Mod or psychedelic? “Mod! The mod is an elegant but dangerous beast,” says Kizuhiko. “But although Captains have a ’60s influence as far as fashion and music goes, we are bringing the ’60s vibe up to date. A kind of New Group Sounds with a harder edge.”

Star potential: The Captains have just signed to Toshiba-EMI and the debut major-label album is due out in the summer. Their catchy guitar pop has gained them a huge cult following, especially among the girls, as these guys, with their floppy fringes draped over cute drop-dead-cool faces and smart, red military-style outfits are simply irresistible. Star potential is clearly 10 out of 10.

More info: www.thecaptains.jp/index.html

The Syrup

Who: Matsuichi-geru (d), Kazumi (v), Hitoshi Kodan (g), Shingo Iwasa (b), Satoshi Hizirisawa (sax)

Hometown: Nagoya

Mod or psychedelic? “Psychedelic, of course!,” says Kazumi. “I wouldn’t say we are Group Sounds as such. We have a traditional Showa-style Japanese sound. We play a kind of Japanese mood rock.”

Star potential: The Syrup are a weird hybrid of Swedish band The Cardigans with the typical fuzzed-up guitar of Group Sounds, caressed with an experimental psychedelic edge. They look great. Sound better. Star potential is a huge 9 out of 10.

More info: www011.upp.so-net.ne.jp/syrup/

The Cyclones

Who: Toru Horiuchi (b,v), Masayuki Toyooka (g, chorus), Isamu Anboi (d, ch)

Hometown: Kyoto

Mod or psychedelic? “I like both. It just depends on how good the music is,” says Toru. “As far as fashion goes I would say mod. The Who, Bowie and Rod Stewart in their early days. You might think we are Group Sounds because of our costumes, but Group Sounds is difficult to define as a genre as there are so many different styles involved.”

Star potential: Cyclones dig deep through psychedelia to create a groove rather than relying on the more simplistic hook-laden pop of The Captains. So fame seems a long way off, errr, but hold on, they just starred as famous Group Sounds band Ox in director Kazuyuki Izutsu’s movie “Pacchigi!” which focuses on Korean people living in Kyoto in 1968. The Cyclones breeze in with a star potential of 9.

More info: www5a.biglobe.ne.jp/~psycron/main.html

Tiger Lily

Who: Asami (v), Kuniko (g), Cherio (b), Tomoharu Koga (d).

Hometown: Tokyo

Mod or psychedelic? Mods as far as fashion goes, but Tiger Lily play Showa-style mood music like The Syrup.

Star potential: Asami is one of the best if not the best — female singers in Japan. Her torch-song vocals can melt the iciest of hearts. If they take themselves a little more seriously, play more gigs, write more songs, there’ll be no stopping them. Star potential soars to 8.

More info: www.3chill.com/lily/

The Portugal Japan

Who: Fukiko The End (g,v), Suyako the End (b, ch), Cherry the End (d, ch).

Hometown: Kumamoto

Mod or psychedelic? The Portugal Japan have a punk edge, a little like Thee ’50s High Teens, who have graced these pages before. Think of The Ramones reborn as three cute Japanese chicks and you’re getting there.

Star potential: The new album is just out on the Sazanami Label and a Japan tour is kicking off, so the star potential burns the scale at 7.

More info: www.theportugal.jp/

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