Category Archives: J-Pop

BIGPAPA aka BIGMAMA’s Tour Finale

BIGMAMA, a five piece rock-pop band based in Tokyo Japan, just recently finished their tour throughout Japan to celebrate the release of their latest album 君想う、故に我在り. They are made up of a unique composition for Japan, with a violinist being a major component of the band. They are considered to be an emo-rock band here in Japan, though in my personal opinion they play very pop-like tunes, with beautiful melodies and a voice that accompanies it wonderfully. BIGMAMA consists of; Kanai Masato (vo/gt), Kakinuma Hiroya (gt/vo), Yasui Hideto (ba), Higashide Mao (vi/cho), and Ibe Riado (dr).

Although their tour finale was dated to be June 15th, there was a separate secret tour finale on the 16th to celebrate father’s day. On this particular day, the band appeared not as BIGMAMA but as BIGPAPA, for…well, father’s day. On this special day in which we honor our father’s, I was invited to go see this band play for the first time.

 

To be honest, I have had no previous experience with this band. Aside from a couple of drinks and a long intoxicated conversation with one of the members on a cold December night and a copy of their latest album, my knowledge of this band was far from lavish. Yet, I found myself sitting on the 3rd floor balcony overlooking the arena and stage surrounded by friends and business partners of the band.

My first show. I was quite excited about this show, to be honest. After getting lost on my way to the Tokyo Dome Hall, when I finally arrived at my destination, I was welcomed by the sight of a myriad of youths sporting black tshirts with the bands name printed across the chest. I had listened to their songs before hand, and I quite like the album, but I was not expecting to see so many people wearing the typical attire one would don in Japan for punk band shows (ie Dickies shorts with the band tshirt and sneakers…clothes that show support for the band while still being comfortable enough to participate in moshpits and crowd surfing).

As I sat on the third floor balcony in my comfortable plush seat, I had a clear view down in the arena where people moved about, resembling the image of a beehive split open for viewing with the worker bees clustered in the small space provided. To be honest, it is quite disgusting looking. Humans are odd creatures.

As the arena lights began to dim, the crowd cheered and I sat up straight in my seat with anticipation rolling through my nerves. Each member walked onto stage, bowing towards the crowd before picking up their instruments in their designated spots. The lights went black and in the next instant, there was a blast of music and bright colorful lights painting the insides of the Tokyo Dome Hall.

The band introduced themselves at BIGPAPA, a different band from BIGMAMA, who came together today to play this show. The audience laughed and went along with their little charade of being BIGPAPA. I did not recognize most of their songs, though they played an exceptional show with an amazing light performance. What intrigued me more though, was seeing the crowd’s reactions to these songs. How people would sit on top of shoulders, singing on the top of their lungs until the climax of the song when they would thrust their bodies back as a sea of hands would reach up to support them, carrying them towards the stage before they rolled down into a black hole. While this seems to be a common act at punk show concerts, it was an alien spectacle for me to see so many crowd surfers during these catchy pop tunes. I quite enjoyed this gap of music and action.

In the middle of the show, the vocalist asked the crowd if it was anyone’s birthday. Hands shot up in the crowd and a path opened up like the red sea to lead the individuals up front.

“Staff, please detain these individuals!” Kanai said. Once everyone had been taken backstage, poppers were passed around. Soon, the birthday boys and girls were led up on stage where they lined up next to the band as the band began playing their birthday song. Higashide, closest to the group, made sure to smile and interact with them as she played the violin, sending girls into fits of tears and spreading grins across everyone’s face. At the peak of the song, an explosion went off as gold confetti streamers rained down into the arena. I quite liked this “tradition” that the band had, allowing their listeners to feel special on the day they were born. It was very different from many of the other bands I have seen.

The show ended before satisfaction broke surface, and the crowd attempted to start a slow clap in the dark. The slow clap would speed up quickly before dispersing into a million jumbled claps. Sitting above the crowd, it sounded like I was at the ocean, the waves crashing down onto shore. Soon the stage lit up as Kanai walked out onto stage. He spoke about his thanks for the fans and asked if he could play in the crowd. A cheer mixed with hysteric screams erupted and with that, he disappeared off the stage, reappearing in the midst of the crowd. He serenaded an acoustic ballad to all the fathers; thanking them for the support and unconditional love they provide their children. After the song, he returned to the stage through an arch the crowd created for him with their arms. A couple more songs were played before they waved their goodbyes, once again, disappearing off the stage.

Photo Jun 16, 8 18 59 PM[the view from the 3rd floor]

The crowd was still not satisfied as the ocean clapping began once again. Soon enough, they were rewarded for their long bouts of clapping as the band returned onto stage to make a couple of announcements. The re-release of their first three albums and a new single.

“And with the release of our new single,” Kanai teased the crowd. “We will also be playing at Akasaka BLITZ for three days in November to commemorate this release!” there was an outburst of cheers from the crowd. A few more words were exchanged before the band sprinted through the last 100 meters of their tour.

 

It was my first BIGMAMA show, and what can I say? I was not disappointed. They played songs I knew, some I recognized, and many songs I didn’t know, yet I was still able to enjoy the whole performance. The atmosphere within this large space, it was just so electrifying.

After the show, I had the chance to go to the after party in which I was able to talk to the rest of the members who were very welcoming and humble. Happy announcements were made and many smiles and laughers were exchanged.

Photo Jun 17, 3 01 33 AM[My guest pass with Takinuma’s pick and Kanai’s essay book. Thank you for the gifts!]

Thank you, BIGMAMA, for providing me the opportunity to attend your show. It was spectacular and I would definitely recommend people listen to their music, and if you like it, go to their show. You will not be disappointed.

 

BIGMAMA:

HP http://bigmama-web.com/index.html

Twitter https://twitter.com/BIGMAMAofficial

 

 

Until next time,
Yoshimaru

Find me here, you beautifuls…
Blog: http://yoshimaru12.wordpress.com/
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Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Second Album Details Finally Announced

Since Kyary’s sold out debut at London early this year, the Japanese pop star is set to release another album this year. “The What The!? Collection or “Nandakorekushon” will be slated for release on June 26 in Japan. Capsules’ Yasutaka Nakata has once again worked with Kyary for the album as her producer and songwriter.

“My second album will finally be released! It would make so happy if the picture for the limited edition made you mutter, ‘What the!?’ The CD also has all sorts of songs, from the rock-flavoured ‘Fashion Monster’ to the sparkly alien song ‘Invader Invader’, so please look forward to it! It definitely won’t let you down! I want you all to hear it soon!” announced an overly excited Pamyu Pamyu.

The official track list of “Nandakorekuhson” is as follows:

Tracklist
1. Nanda Collection (なんだこれくしょん)
2. Ninja Re Bang Bang (にんじゃりばんばん)
3. Kimi ni 100 Percent (キミに100パーセント)
4. Super Scooter Happy
5. Invader Invader (インベーダーインベーダー)
6. Mi (み)
7. Fashion Monster (ファッションモンスター)
8. Saigo no Ice Cream (さいごのアイスクリーム)
9. Noriko to Norio (のりことのりお)
10. Furisodation (ふりそでーしょん)
11. Kurakura (くらくら)
12. Otona na Kodomo (おとななこども)

Check out Kyary’s latest music video for her single, “Invader Invader” where obviously, dubstep sounds have started to invade Japanese pop as well.

And if the world still goes round… (それでも世界が続くなら)

The epitome of emo bands in Japan, それでも世界が続くなら (Soredemo Sekai ga Tuddukunara, aka SoreSeka: roughly translates to “if the world still continues on”) stood on a dark colorless stage singing out every teenagers darkest fears. The majority of their songs never go past a steady medium and the vocalists raspy voice sounds strained, as if holding back tears. Yet, every word rings through the air and echoes into the audience.

“We aren’t adults and we aren’t children” vocalist Shinoduka Masayuki shouts into the darkness where the crowd stood captivated by the bands sound. There isn’t laughter nor cheers of joy during the performance but an understanding silence about the harsh world of adolescences. It would be a difficult ordeal not to be drawn into this dark world the four artist paint so well with their instruments.

Lined up at the front of the stage stand young teenage girls who cry as they sway to the music these boys have created for them. Towards the back, an older generation stood solidly, as if nodding in agreement to the broken hearted love songs and hardships of being stuck in the middle of growing up.

This is my second time to hear this band play, but this is the first time to actually listen to their songs. And while a larger portion of their songs contain lyrics about death, there is still a sense of hope layered between the words.

During the emcee, Shinoduka asks the crowd what “death” is before continuing onto a story that he had heard earlier that day. His difficult to decipher mumbles fit the atmosphere the band had created perfectly. A dark muddled, very emotional, feel. Shinoduka apologizes and thanks the crowd before carrying onto their last song which, unlike their other songs, is upbeat.

Mesmerized, no one took their eyes off of the stage during their show. Who could possibly tear away from the band when the lyrics are begging for suicide? Or when they are about someone close to you wanting to die while you keep stopping them out of love, but having conflicting feelings about your decision to stop them. If this does not scream out emo, then what could possibly be emo?

There are many bands in Japan who consider themselves “emo” but in my book, they are too happy and upbeat to be “emo.” When they sing of happy endings and love stories, it is not…emo.

…or is it?

SoreSeka, however, is just…

Emo.

From their black shaggy hair and their black clothes to their songs, this band is the picture perfect example of a Japanese emo band. Their lyrics are very powerful and full of depressing and dark features, it only enhances their style.

0702_01

Make sure you are prepared to be touched by depression when listening to this band. For depressions cold hands will caress your cheek continuously and give you chills with their songs.

But of course, all in a good way.

If that is possible.

For a band to be able to cause silent tears to flow in a crowded venue, that is definitely something. Not very many bands in this country are able to do this.

Soredemo Sekai ga Tudukunara, I raise my white flag, you have wooed me into a dark world during your performance.

For true emo music, definitely keep an eye out for this band.

Until next time,
Yoshimaru

Find me here, you beautifuls…
Blog: http://yoshimaru12.wordpress.com/
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それでも世界が続くなら
HP: http://www.soredemosekaigatsudukunara.com/home5.html
Twitter: https://twitter.com/soredemosekai
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/それでも世界が続くなら/329263983826043

Living for Music, SuiseiNoboAz Major Debut

The air is tense as the room darkens. The audience patiently awaits as three shadows make their way onto the stage, fidgeting with their instruments before one silhouette raises his hand. In the next instant the whole venue is transported into an alternate universe stained with unidentifiable colors. The crowd cheers, thrusting their hands up into the heated space above their heads as sound begins to pour out of the speakers, filling in every inch of space that is left in the dark venue.

The band SuiseiNoboAz (pronounced: sui-say-no-bo-az) are the three members who transformed this generic black venue into a room colored in psychedelic-rock with a hint of pop. This band is made of Ishihara Masaharu on vocals and guitar, Mizobuchi Narufumi on bass, and Sakurai Norio on drums and chorus. The combination of these three talented musicians construct a unique sound unusual to the music scene in Japan.

SuiseiNoboAz: Mizobuchi Narufumi, Ishihara Masaharu, Sakurai Norio
SuiseiNoboAz: Mizobuchi Narufumi, Ishihara Masaharu, Sakurai Norio

I recently had the opportunity to ask Mr. Ishihara some questions during their busy preparations for making their major debut from a sub label of Avex records, cutting edge with their new album ubik.

The band had just recently returned to Tokyo from playing in the widely recognized festival, South By South West (SXSW) in Austin, Texas. According to Mr. Ishihara, the experience was fantastic. It was the first time for the three members to leave Japan, and they were all very excited for the trip. They were welcomed by surprisingly wide roads and delicious food and beer. They were treated to cocktails, beer and, to their surprise, Japanese sake made in Texas, by individuals from the audience who had been exstatic with their performance.

The members were also amazed by the sound volume that poured out of their amps. With a higher voltage than Japan, the sound was “a lot louder and fuller” Mr. Ishihara said. “It felt great!” And with this new knowledge of what their instruments were capable of sounding, he said he is now “more conscious in our sound.”

SXSW 2013
SXSW 2013

Now, for a little background on the band, I asked Mr. Ishihara how the band formed. A generic question but something that, in my opinion, should be asked during any first interview, right?

He said that before SuiseiNoboAz, everyone had been in their own bands, but had all disbanded around the same time. “We were all free so we sort of just got together” and thus, SuiseiNoboAz was formed. I suppose this is nothing special and is also a quite generic reason amongst many bands, but I will say that I am glad that their former bands all disbanded at the time that they did so they could come together.

After being together for 6 years, the band will finally be making their long awaited major debut in June, 2013. I asked Mr. Ishihara to choose a color that describes SuiseiNoboAz best, and he chose turquoise. Although there isn’t a specific color that he believes represents the band fully, their first major debut album image color is aimed to be turquoise.

I have had numerous opportunities to hear their latest creations, and in my opinion, I will have to agree that turquoise is a fine fit with the albums image color. Their later songs are definitely not turquoise, but more orange. A faded orange or a faded red. But these newer songs that have a stronger tinge of pop and synths, turquoise and purple come to mind.

I then followed with a few personal questions for Mr. Ishihara. Fun questions always make an interview more interesting, don’t you think? But because this is still the fist interview…it is more of a band introduction, so I will stick with the simpler, more generic questions.

Ishihara Masaharu
Ishihara Masaharu

So I asked him what he thinks he would be doing if he wasn’t in the music industry.

“I’m not sure if I would have a job if it weren’t for music…” He responded. I do not believe this, as he is a very smart man with a unique sense of the world. But he continues to mention that as a child, he always admired fishermen and manage artists because, they are, of course, two of the same of occupation.

I can understand why he admires manga artists for he is an artist himself and enjoys reading them…but fishermen? Perhaps I will be able to ask in more detail the next time.

I wasn’t too sure what I was expecting when I asked him what his favorite animal was…but somewhere inside me I think I was hoping for an exotic animal or a strange animal. Instead, he respond with cats. He believes that they are “free and independent” and that they are very intelligent animals and he bets that “they probably have very complex thoughts.” If that is the case, then I feel like cats suit him very well. For he is very independent and having the knowledge that he would love to live on a rooftop with a rubber swimming pool and not have to work, it seems as if he is describing himself. Perhaps he is trying to become a cat? A musical cat.

All three members of the band are very interesting and unique individuals that are great to chat with and share a drink or two. And while I am very intrigued by how Mr. Ishihara comes up with his seemingly obscure song themes, I am glued to the bass lines. Being a bass player myself, I am in constant awe with Mr. Mizobuchi’s bass playing. I have asked him about his techniques and styles, but I am never satisfied with his unknowing answers. One day…one day I will get an actual answer from this man of very few words.

Their first album, a self named album called SuiseiNoboAz, has a very heavy influence of the late band Number Grl. A very alternative sound with complex guitar riffs and intricate rhythm. The steady and strong beats created by Mr. Sakurai and the distinct bass lines by Mr. Mizobuchi that connect the whole ensemble. Mr. Ishihara’s unique and husky voice spits out words that are abstruse and help draft out their world for everyone to visualize.

Their second album, THE (OVERUSED) END OF THE WORLD and I MISS YOU MUH-FUH was a self produced album that consisted of more popish tunes. Though I definitely would not consider this album pop. The lyrics are much more straightforward while also having the sense of encoded secrecy. I enjoy this album very much also, for it was a great representation of the bands color at the time. And while I am still very fond of this album, they have grown since the release of this album.

20130420_463295

I am very excited to hear their completed new album. Their major debut album. To see how their organized their songs, to hear the new additions and to enjoy the album as a whole.

SuiseiNoboAz is a band very unique to the Japanese music scene. Their use in complex Japanese words and the integration of English phrases work in harmony to create their own flavor.

With their upcoming major debut, they are definitely a band to keep tabs on.

 

Until next time,
Yoshimaru

Band info…
Homepage: http://suiseinoboaz.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SuiseiNorecoRd/
Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/suiseinoboaz
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/SuiseiNoboAz/399820000108338

 

Find me here, beautifuls…
Blog: http://yoshimaru12.wordpress.com/
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Arigatou – Fan-mon’s latest and last single will star Akashiya Sanma

FUNKY MONKEY BABYS (aka Fan-mon) will disband after their live concert at Tokyo Dome on June 1st and 2nd, and they are releasing their last single titled “Arigatou” on February 27th. It’s not all bad, though. The jacket cover and music video for the last single has a little extra surprise…It features famous comedian Akashiya Sanma.

Sanma’s appearance on the cover was made possible when Fan-mon first appeared on Sanma’s talk show “Sanma no Manma” back in December of 2011. On the show, Sanma told Fan-mon how he wanted to be on their cover, and how he was envious when he saw Ueda Shinya (of comedian duo “Cream Stew”) featured on the cover of their single “Soredemo Shinjiteru/Love Letter“. Sanma then negotiated with the members to let him appear on the cover on the show. 2 years later, Fan-mon offered Sanma a chance to do so.

Sanma who met again with Fan-mon at the shooting, said, “I regret it now. You don’t take anything serious if I say ‘Let me be the cover jacket’ on the shoot, unless I say it behind the scenes. So I was surprised when I got an offer, since I had little dream that they would take it seriously.” To respond the comment, Funky Kato said, “We completely took it seriously! In a sense, we appeared on the show to make a verbal promise with you.” Then Sanma said, “I was like ‘Oh no~, but I guess it’s fine since it would be finished after taking couple of photos,’ but a staff member came over for a meeting, and said, ‘we will leave Tokyo at 8 am, and the shooting will end at 7 pm.’ So I was thinking, ‘Why would it take that long to take pictures? How slow do they have to press the shutter button!’, but I did not think there would be a filming for PV…”

Funky Kato also explained about the last single “Arigatou” saying, “We put so much of our gratitude toward the fans who have supported us until now, as well as the staff members.” Sanma agreed him, and said, “I’m sure they just wanted to tell how thankful they are to people, and I guess only the word ‘Arigatou’ comes to their minds, no matter how much they want to express other messages. It’s all about their ‘Arigatou’ feeling after all. It sure is a great word that hits the hearts of us Japanese.”

The PV, which Sanma stars in, is scheduled to be released next week.

Minegishi Minami Apologizes by Shaving Her Head and Posting a Video on YouTube

I am very sorry for worrying the members, you fans, staff members, my family, and many people for the article about me on a weekly magazine that will be released today.

As the first generation member of AKB48 that was formed back in 2005, I was supposed to be in the position where I always had to act as a role model for the junior members. However, what I have done was such a thoughtless and a lack of self-awareness behavior.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlzrIgacADU&feature=player_embedded

Since my mind is still in blank, I did not know what to do or what I can do, but as I just saw the magazine, I could not sit still, so I decided all by myself to shave my head without even telling the members or my agency.

I do not expect that I would be forgiven by doing this, but what I first thought was that I did not want to quit AKB48.

I was unable to think of leaving AKB48 now where the members I love and spent my youth together, and you warm fans are. I know this is being over‐optimistic, but I want to stay as Minegishi Minami of AKB48 if possible.

It was all my fault about this. I am very sorry.

I will leave everything to Akimoto-sensei’s and the management’s judgement. Though I haven’t been able to sort out my feelings, I just wanted to tell you how I was feeling right now.

Thank you.

For “Banisuta”, T-ara split into 3 sub units

For “Banisuta”, T-ara split into three sub units. So what is “Banisuta”? It’s the latest single from the group and will be released on March 20th.

The single will be the group’s 6th Japanese single and features 10 different versions of the song.

Seven regular editions of the single will be released as well as a unique solo single from one of the group’s members.

The songs are as follows:

Ai no Shi – Soyeon
Two As On – Eunjung
Maybe Maybe – Boram
For You – Jiyeon
Do We Do We – Qri
Love Suggestion – Hyomin
Happy Rain – Areum

Three limited edition versions of the single will also be released, each containing the single’s title track, as well as one of the following songs from the 3 sub units formed for the single:

Signs – Soyeon & Areum
Shabon Dama no Yukue – Boram & Qri
Dangerou Love – Eunjung, Jiyeon & Hyomin

Tegomass Releasing New Single “Sayonara ni Sayonara”

Japanese duo Tegomass announced that they will be releasing a new single, "Sayonara ni Sayonara", on March 6th.

The new single will come in a regular edition and a limited edition. The limited edition version will come with a bonus DVD and an 8-page booklet. The regular edition will come with 2 extra tracks not included in the limited edition, as well as its own 6-page booklet.

The new single’s title track was produced by Kiyoshi Matsuo and will be a mid-tempo, happy ballad.

Tegomass is a duo under Johnny’s Enertainment consisting of NEWS members Tegoshi Yuya and Masuda Takahisa. The new single will be their 6th single and first release in 2 years – "Aoi Bench", their last single, was released on February 16th, 2011.

Check out the track list to the new single below:

Regular Edition CD

1. Sayonara ni Sayonara

2. Hitori Jyanai

3. Komorebi Memories

4. Sayonara ni Sayonara (Original karaoke with just Tegoshi Yuya’s voice)

5. Sayonara ni Sayonara (Original karaoke with just Masuda Takahisa’s voice)

Limited Edition CD

1. Sayonara ni Sayonara

2. Sayonara ni Sayonara (Original karaoke)

DVD

1. Sayonara ni Sayonara MV

2. Sayonara ni Sayonara Making Of

Ayumi Hamasaki releases “Melody” PV

"Melody" was released on Ayu’s mini album "LOVE" on November 8th and the song was originally supposed to be released with a music video, but was cancelled before making its way to viewers.

Now Ayumi Hamasaki has revealed a short version PV preview for the song, which is the only new music video off of the singer’s upcoming album "LOVE again".

The music video is like a kaleidoscope, using multiple mirrors to create awesome kaleidoscopic effects. This also has a deeper meaning and mirrors the singer reflecting about her love life.

"LOVE again" is the 4th release of 5 monthly releases leading up to Hamasaki’s 15th anniversary. The album is her 14th full-length album.

Kalafina Releasing New Album, “Consolation”

Kalafina announced today that they will be releasing their 4th studio album “Consolation” on March 20th.

The new album will come in a regular edition and a limited edition. Confirmed tracks to be featured in the new album include “To the Beginning”, “Hikari Furu” and “moonfesta”.

The DVD and Blu ray disk that come with the limited edition version of he album will contain footage of the group’s time at “Animagic 2012” in Germany and the music video for “Yume no Daichi”, a new song believed to be the album’s lead track.

To celebrate the release of their new album, Kalafina will be holding a special live show titled “Consolation Special LIVE 2013” on April 6th, 2013 at the Tokyo Dome City Hall. Over the summer, the group will go on a full nationwide tour.

In addition to promotional activities in Japan, Kalafina announced today that they will be coming to the United States later in the year. On May 17th, the group will be special guests at the Chicago anime convention “Anime Central”. This will mark the Kalafina’s 3rd appearance at an anime convention in the United States.