Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Compilations part 6: Japan Nite Sound Sampler 2001
This is a surprisingly strong compilation of a number of diverse-sounding bands from Japan, put together by some sort of foundation dedicated to raising the profile of Japanese artists in America. There's a series of Japan Nite samplers, none of which are for sale. They turn up on eBay reasonably often, and never seem to cost too much.
As far as I know, the most successful band from this particular CD in the US thus far is Petty Booka, who perform mostly low-key cover versions. They got a US CD release in 2003 called Let's Talk Dirty in Hawaiian that compiles a bunch of their stuff. I remember being extremely surprised to see that at J&R Music World. Here's their version of I Wanna Be Your Boy Friend. Discography, video, and more mp3s can be found here.
More than one person I know holds the opinion that it's not real Japanese pop music unless a girl with a cutesy voice, wearing rollerskates and dressed like a cheerleader, is singing about bananas. For others who feel the same, here's Mummy The Peep Show with Kick Off! Not sure about current info, but they have several English sites (which look old) and this one seems like a decent place to start. I'm ever so slightly curious about their cover of This Charming Man. Quote from website: "MTP has a sense to select their cover songs. Their choise for this album was THE SMITH! "This Charming Man"!!"
The real reason I hold this compilation so dear is that introduced me to the Japanese band Bleach, subsequently known as Bleachmobile, subsequently known as Bleach03 (damn Christian band Bleach!). I've posted tracks by them before, but I still think they're absolutely incredible and strangely overlooked in the US. The good news is that as Bleach03 they finally have a US label after all these years. More on that in a bit.
By Bleach, here's Shikai No Haba which is one of two songs by them on this Japan Nite CD. [I guess you could say it's my mission to make sure that every man, woman, and child in America hears this song.] One of the only outright stupid comments I've ever gotten since the start of Mystical Beast was from someone who called it just a lot of screaming and yelling and noise. It's a pop song for Christ's sake! (A pop song with a lot of screaming and yelling and noise. It's also got a very beautiful and surprisingly melodic guitar break, so I hope you'll give it a chance.) I was so happy to see that someone else out there in Internet land recognizes Bleach for the popsters that they really are.
That song can also be found on a CD called Three Girls From Okinawa, which came out in England on a subsidiary of the Cherry Red label. That CD also includes a pretty great video of the band, lead singer in kitty-ears-hat and all, making huge amounts of noise in a studio somewhere. For whatever reason, though, the sound on Japan Nite is better. Or maybe it's just louder...it's hard to tell.
The other Bleach track from the Japan Nite compilation isn't quite as mind blowing as Shikai No Haba, partly because its bass part is somewhat more subdued, and partly because it only sounds like two songs being played at the same time (instead of three) but it's pretty great as well. Here's Otoko Ichokusen, which comes from an early single. I sometimes wonder if it might be possible to convert System Of A Down fans to this. (Oh, wait, I am a System Of A Down fan.) As with Shikai No Haba, Otoko Ichokusen unexpectedly breaks into a normal-tempo melody at one point.
I'll have a bit on their new US CD in a day or so. They played at SXSW this year, you know, not that anyone much seemed to care enough to write about it.
I Wanna Be Your Boy Friend by Petty Booka
Kick Off! by Mummy The Peep Show
Shikai No Haba by Bleach
Otoko Ichokusen by Bleach