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Miyavi explores his 'Others' side on new album

by Matthew Hernon

Playing a sadistic real-life villain in the Angelina Jolie film “Unbroken” clearly took its toll on Takamasa Ishihara, who admits he wept and threw up as he prepared for his final scene. Now back in a more familiar role as the enigmatic musician Miyavi, the man known as the “Samurai ...

Spotify, Pandora help slow decline in record sales

Apr 17, 2015

Spotify, Pandora help slow decline in record sales

by Kristen Schweizer

The decline in worldwide recorded-music revenues slowed last year as more people subscribed to online services. The proportion of sales from digital destinations equaled those from physical formats for the first time. Global revenue for the industry, whose best-selling album was the movie soundtrack ...

Southern All Stars 'Budou'

| Apr 17, 2015

Southern All Stars "Budou"

by Patrick ST. Michel

Southern All Stars “Budou” (Victor / Taishita) Southern All Stars don’t need to try. Japan’s music media and industry decided the rock quartet was historically important long ago. A 2003 poll by retailer HMV named them the most influential Japanese group ever, and plenty ...

Tenkiame 'So Sad About Us'

| Apr 17, 2015

Tenkiame "So Sad About Us"

by Patrick ST. Michel

Tenkiame “So Sad About Us” (Independent) Tokyo’s Azusa Suga is a busy man. For the past four years he has been managing online label Canata Records, recorded woozy electronic pop under the name Shortcake Collage Tape and played in indie-pop band For Tracy Hyde, ...

Cuushe dreams of perfect pop on 'Night Lines'

Apr 12, 2015

Cuushe dreams of perfect pop on 'Night Lines'

by James Hadfield

Where Japanese musicians used to move to Tokyo for a shot at the big time, these days it feels like increasing numbers of them are heading to Berlin instead. Mayuko Hitotsuyanagi, better known by her dream-pop alias Cuushe, was one of them. In 2012, ...

British filmmaker sounds out Japan

Apr 12, 2015

British filmmaker sounds out Japan

by James Hadfield

In 1996, the Environment Ministry unveiled a list of designated places and traditions around the country that demanded appreciation not for how they looked, but how they sounded. The selections in “100 Soundscapes of Japan” may not have been terribly adventurous — bird songs, ...

Record Store Day promises some hits

Apr 12, 2015

Record Store Day promises some hits

by Patrick ST. Michel

It has taken a few years to catch on in Japan, but Record Store Day (RSD) is now well-known among music fans. This year’s edition falls on April 18, so look out for limited-edition items and a few shows to celebrate. Last year’s RSD ...

Charli XCX hits her J-pop groove

Apr 9, 2015

Charli XCX hits her J-pop groove

by Shaun Curran

“I’ve tried to immerse myself in Japanese culture,” says Charli XCX, international hit maker and Britain’s next big pop-star-in-waiting. Of course, that’s the sort of comment you might expect the 22-year-old to make on the eve of her first headline shows in the country ...

Broken in life, Billie Holiday adored at 100

Apr 5, 2015

Broken in life, Billie Holiday adored at 100

by Shaun Tandon

Billie Holiday died with just $50 to her name taped to her thigh, but on the 100th anniversary of her birth the jazz legend is enjoying a renaissance as a trailblazer for generations of singers. Holiday was broken down by heroin use, police harassment ...

CQ will take you to the world's end

Apr 3, 2015

CQ will take you to the world's end

by Ryotaro Aoki

Music genres can sometimes be helpful guidelines for a band, but they can also end up being an albatross around a musician’s neck, especially if they’re part of your group’s moniker. Just ask Hiroshi Sasabuchi, drummer for rock band CQ and formerly of Tokyo ...

Pigeondust seeks out the story in a sample

Apr 3, 2015

Pigeondust seeks out the story in a sample

by Danny Masao Winston

When Chiba-based hip-hop producer Yuta Yamaoka, better known as Pigeondust, isn’t busy flipping through crates of dusty vinyl at used record shops, he’s at home dissecting and connecting bits and pieces of sounds, lifted from those records. “I could make music from scratch if ...