May 31, 2009

The Boys Next Door

With his sport coats, Hawaiian shirts and wayfarer sunglasses, Mukai Shutoku looks more like an 80's silicon valley exec than one of Japan's top indie-rock darlings.

More vids and info after the jump

He definitely has the street cred. His former band, Number Girl, are still considered one of Japan's most influential indie rock outfits. This has given Shutoku the freedome to fool around a bit. He has a built-in audience (expect large crowds at whatever stage they play) so if he wants to try out some synth-pop, why not?

Zazen Boys have recently been working with producer extaordinaire David Fridman (Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips, etc). Warning: one look at his resume will make indie snobs wet their pants.

Will be interesting to see what he can tease out of their sound, but Sutoku is his own man. And although he may have a baby face, he's at his best when wailing about vices like booze and women. Enjoy.

Zazen Boys MYSPACE


Let it Bleed


The British DJ known as Fake Blood has done quite well keeping his identity under wraps, even wearing masks behind the decks. But when you're touring the world, mixing on Radio One and keeping up with Twitter and other social media, it's only a matter of time before the jig is up.

Links to music and more info after the jump:

Theories on his identity go from Tiesto to 2manyDJs, but to be honest, I don't care. The guy is gonna sound massive when teamed up with Crookers and the rest of the Diplo diaspora. And he's already spun out a some incredible odd-ball remixes for a slew of bands I love, such as Hot Chip, the Kills and Boy 8-Bit, as well as Fujirock alumni like Underworld, Scroobius Pip and Simian Mobile Disco. Many of these can be found on his Radio One mix. Recommended.

I found the entire Radio One mix HERE.

The Mars EP HERE

A taste of the Radio One mix and links to other Fake Blood remixes HERE


Rookie A Go-Go: The Envelope Please...


Every year the Fuji Rock Festival features some great young bands from across Japan on the Rookie A Go-Go stage. It’s your first chance to get a glimpse of the next big thing. Don’t pass it up. This year’s list after the proverbial jump.

Some 1,500 applications to play the RAGG stage were received this year, and out of them 15 were chosen. The stage is a highlight of the festival for some of us Fujirockers–Mass Of The Fermenting Dregs and Bo-peep spring to mind from previous years.

Bo-peep 2007 photo by Masuya Hoya and used with permission of Fuji Rock Express.

The stage is sponsored by Strummerville, a foundation set up to assist aspiring musicians by the family and friends of Joe Strummer the year after his death.

There is no one unifying sound or genre that defines them all of these acts. They are rock, hip hop, psychedelic and instrumental artists. The only common thread is that they are all homegrown talent, and that you have probably never have seen them play (okay well maybe you might have).

Mass Of The Fermenting Dregs 2007 photo by Masuya Hoya and used with permission of Fuji Rock Express.

Here are the Rookie-A-Go-Go artists that will be cutting their teeth at this year’s Fuji Rock Festival:

The Centerhits
The Descriptions
撃鉄 (Gekitetsu)
Harp On Mouth Sextet
Jaribu Afrobeat Arkestra
Kate Sikora
壊れかけのテープレコーダーズ (Kowarekakeno Tape Recorders)
マヒルノ (Mahiruno)
レイト (Reito)
泰山に遊ぶ (Taizan Ni Asobu)
打首獄門同好会 (Uchikubi Gokumon Doukoukai)

Details on all of the above artists will be available early next month. (If your band isn’t listed, then I hate to break it to you...)

Charlie Brown & Baseball Team 2008, photo by Takumi Nakajima and used with permission of Fuji Rock Express.


Jeff Lang


Slide Guitar King Of The World

Jeff Lang first bubbled to the surface of the Australian blues & roots scene in the early 90s. With his smoking slide guitar, he has become known the world over for his energetic performances and his finely crafted songs. He has played at more festivals than you can poke a stick at, and always puts on a definitely electric acoustic performance.

Purportedly never planning a set, Lang lets the energy of the audience drive the direction of his live shows. With a sizable catalog of original work to formulate a show, he's never one to shy away from a cover or two in his sets either, paying respect to his forebears. No wonder he can rely on his fans for the course his show will take. Since the days of inspiration as a teenager listening to his dad's record collection, he's been honing his skills and earning kudos at every turn. Name a player in the blues scene over the last 20 years, and you'll be hard pressed to find a name that Lang hasn't toured with, or at least played alongside. There's barely a weekend goes by in Melbourne that you won't see his name on a bill. Unless of course there's a festival to be played somewhere. Anywhere.

I don't think I could sum it up better than HD - Chart Magazine of Canada did a few years back, so I'll leave it to them.

"First, write some damn fine, rootsy story-songs and confessionals that easily locate the home truth. Smother the rocky ones in greasy, funky, groove-ass, electric slide slop. Color the folky ones with some evocative, deeply soulful acoustic slide. Play 'em as if you're a male Bonnie Raitt -- with some serious balls and flawless chops -- but twice as speedy and energetic. Play that thang so it cuts like a pearl-handled straight razor: Fast, clean, shiny and sharp, but always in service of the song. Congratulations! You're Jeff Lang . . . the new Slide Guitar King Of The World."
-- HD - Chart Magazine - Canada

Official site
Short interview here


Trashcan Sinatras


The Scotsmen make an long awaited trip to Fuji Rock.

I remember when I first I heard about Trashcan Sinatras. I dismissed them out of hand, due solely to their name. At the time, there was a rash (and I use that term as much literally as I do figuratively) of bands making music (and I use that word in the loosest of its possible connotations) by banging the lids of garbage cans and other crap they happened to find lying in the street. Stomp, I'm pointing my finger at you. It was the kind of thing that people who didn't ever go to shows went to see.

So, with their name as it is, I ignored all references to the Trashcan Sinatras. A pity too, because they're actually a really good band to listen to. No fluffy verses repeated twice per song here. No, here we have intelligently written, witty, and interesting songs that are easy on the ears. Lyricist Francis Reader's Scottish drawl comes out in their songs, a twang that helps make listening to them an experience further removed from your day to day britpop.

Never the ones to rush things, their latest album comes to us after a five year wait. Already released in Japan, it features a good selection of the slower style tracks that have made them such a loved act the world over. These guys fans seem to be some of the most dedicated I have come across. Trashcan Sinatras seem to be a group that you don't grow out of.

And thankfully, not a trash can in site.

Official site


Let's get it ON!


Wanna know who's best out of Franz Ferdinand and The Killers? Wanna watch them go head to head in an all-or-nothing bout for supremacy? Wanna watch as someone "pit(s) the biggest bands in music against each other"?

Wanna see some utterly pointless waste of web real estate as someone devotes a whole page to a poll about whether you like one band or the other one the most?

[Here it is]

Now what's all that about, then?



Cool Wise Men


It's a bit late to tell you now, but Friday night in Yokohama there was a mini-fest featuring four Fuji acts: Tokyo Ska Para, Curly Giraffe, UA and this mob... Cool Wise Men. I'd never heard of them, but the rest of the Greenroom Festival line-up was so good I thought I'd check them out.

Turns out they're another ska act and they've been around for 16 years. Shows how much I know. They played the Field of Heaven 2 years ago, where I spend most of my Fuji Rock. Shows how observant I am. They're a tight 7-piece from Tokyo, usually instrumental, though the second tune on their Myspace playlist has a vocal, and it shows why they're usually instrumental.

If anyone caught Spearhead last year and saw what they did to the Field of Heaven - I'm predicting this band's gonna do the same this year. Check the clips below and picture a sunny Field of Heaven.

If you fancy a preview, they're playing Shimokitazawa's new Garden venue on July 10.

Cool Wise Myspace



May 30, 2009

浅井健一 Kenichi Asai


Foreigners at Fuji Rock all too frequently miss out on some of the best that J-rock has to offer. Make a special effort this year to see some of the Japanese artists, and you won't be disappointed that you did.

Hailing from an illustrious background in Japanese rock music, Kenichi Asai is playing in a solo capacity this year. Think of such iconic Japanese bands as Blankey Jet City, Sherbets, Jude, and "supergroup" Ajico, Asai is one of the more seasoned performers gracing the stage this year. Don't be surprised if Ajico vocalist UA joins him on stage, as she's performing solo at FRF this time around too. Catch her on the Saturday, and Kenichi Asai on the Sunday.

Don't miss the unique stye of fast paced, psychedelic infused rock that has made Asai such a popular and enduring player in Japan.

Official site for all of Kenichi Asai's current projects (solo, Sherbets, Jude)


May 28, 2009

The Higher

Just push play up there. See if you aren't at least a little infected by this ditty, even if you thought you might be able to cavalierly laugh it off as teeny rock. I was so disarmed by it that I was literally disarmed of 99 cents on iTunes to buy it. Yeah, you heard me, I paid 99 cents of my own good money for this song. Youwannafightaboutit?

Oh sure, you can scoff at lyrics like "All that matters to me girl, win or lose;
Is an x-rated complete swirl of me and you", but I've always thought something creatively awkward like that is much to be preferred over something banally predictable. I get the feeling the dude (Mr. Seth Trotter) knows how what he's saying sounds, too, like when Rivers Cuomo busts out the hip-hop slang.

The Higher, by the way, are from Vegas, and have a dedicated following of midwestern teenagers. (Judging by those golden locks, I'm guessing a lot of young women?)

Kinda dig the music too. Sounds like Donavan Frankenreiter, but with more youthful energy and less nostalgia and straightforward aping of the 70's funk and pop from which they draw.

This is from '07, off of their second album, On Fire. They've got a new one called It's Only Natural coming out on June 23, which is, according to a report from the band, to be something like a summation of all they've been aiming for.

I seem to keep covering FRF acts with honey-smooth vocals.

Exactly what kind of dudes are these guys


May 26, 2009

Summer Fests, Head To Head

I've been assuming that Summer Sonic had been snagging many good acts away from Fuji in recent years. But I think I may have thought too soon, as a cursory glance at the two line-ups doesn't give the winnership clearly to either one. And you know what they say about assuming: it makes an ass out of u and ming. And Ming doesn't really deserve it, what with the toiling away 18 hours a day in a dank factory making Lewis Vouleton bags and toddler knives, not to mention that weird 'communist' government of his.

So I figured I better subject my assumption to some critical analysis.

Let's break it down. For marquee rock names, FRF has SS matched with Oasis, Franz Ferdinand, Weezer and The Killers to their Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance, Nine Inch Nails and Limp Bizkit.

SS also has Beyonce, which I have to admit is pretty cool, even though I'm not a fan personally. She probably will not play the awetacular Tom Petty mash-up version of If I Were A Boy.

But FRF has Public Mother Flipping Enemy , and SS has no artist of matching iconic status. Why, you ask? Because there ARE NO ARTISTS OF MATCHING ICONIC STATUS TO PUBLIC MOTHER FLIPPING ENEMY. Public Enemy played Summer Sonic in 2005.

FRF has Fallout Boy, who I am slightly embarassed to admit I thought were the same band as My Chemical Romance. Which one has the one totally cute member with that hair thing who gets on all the magazine covers?

(I made a similar mistake recently with Ace Ventura and the Cable Guy. I had assumed they were both such crap movies that I never bothered to see them or even give them each a separate and distinct ontology, until a friend told me I had to see Ace Ventura, so like a jackass two months later I go and rent The Cable Guy and wasted what felt like five consecutive Sunday afternoons in a row watching it.)

Fuji: Bad Brains. Sonic: The Specials
Sonic: Elvis Costello. Fuji: Patti Smith
You know who is awesome? Aphex Twin. Summer Sonic.
You know who else is awesome? Basement Jaxx. Fuji Rock Festival.

Sonic scored two FRF perennials this year, Sonic Youth and Mogwai. But it's good to mix things up. Weezer are making their first appearance at Fuji after appearing at SS in 2000, 2002, and 2005. And they did not have The Greatest Man That Ever Lived to play then.

Sonic has Mercury Rev AND The Flaming Lips, like Twin Cities of the 90's alternative universe.

Gogol Bordello, who played Fuji last year, are playing Sonic this year, and they are always an amazing live act.

But then Fuji has Peaches, who is also shockingly out of her head.

And you don't get much more classic, high energy, and unmatchable than Booker T., who has had a Robert Plant and Allison Kraus-worthy resurgence of an album this year. A palace of wonder explosion from this guy would be legendary.

I could go on (Animal Collective, Maximo Park, Royksopp, Fuji. Keane, Kasabian, Sonic.), but the real question here is where in the world did I get the idea that Sonic was getting better acts?

Must be my Minnesota humility and fatalism. Fuji is my fest. I expect to be the underdog. I'm not happy unless I'm not happy.

But I do love my Fuji Rock. It's so communal, so friendly and natural, so refreshing, so invigorating, so, um, in the mountains. After 12 years (entering number 13), there is still really nothing quite like it on earth.


Tom Freund


Jinki wrote about Diplo's links to various acts. And there's an obvious link between the Neville Brothers and the Funky Meters, as well as Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra and Asa Chang. Here's another one:

Ben Harper and Tom Freund.

Harper and Freund recorded "Pleasure and Pain" together in 1992, and were once both in a blues outfit called "Thirsty Dog". If you look closely at the biography for Freund on Fuji Rock's line-up, it lists Harper as one of his backup musicians.

"Every year the mounting landfill of new releases that threatens to bury the working journalist yields a few unexpected gems, and Tom Freund is one of them." The New York Times



Good old Glasto

Fuji Rock's template - Britain's Glastonbury - once again serves up a line-up of mind-boggling wit and variety:

Status Quo
Spinal Tap
Lily Allen
Bruce Springsteen
The Prodigy
Jamie Cullum
Black Eyed Peas




May 25, 2009

Kevin Bacon at the Turntables?

Above: Buraka Som Sistema on Al Jazeera English

Musicians can be an incestuous lot, and that goes double for the DJ set. So I shouldn't be surprised to find less than six degrees of separation joining many of this year's late-night performers at the Red Marquee.

More after the jump.

While looking up some music to download from eMusic, I saw a pattern emerging amongst many of the DJs. At the center of this web? Diplo. Both Anglophone and Francophone representatives from our team have already given him a duly-deserved shout-out, but it's worth mentioning that the native Floridian has collaborated with at least four of this year's club acts: London's Fake Blood (performing together in the UK as I write), Lisbon's Buraka Som Sistema and two Italian duos - Crookers and Bloody Beetroots.

A few recommended EPs to prep you for the Red Marquee:

Fantastic blog, with plenty of free mixes HERE
The Blow You Head EP
(Note the creative use of Pixies lyrics on "Must be a Devil")

Fake Blood MYSPACE

Bloody Beetroots MYSPACE

Crookers MYSPACE
The Knobbers EP

Buraka Som Systema MYSPACE
Recommended EP


Priscilla Ahn

"I was a little girl
alone in my little world
who dreamed of a little home for me"

I have to agree with this blogger that the word that completely encapsulates Priscilla Ahn is 'lovely'. Which is precisely the target she is aiming for.

These opening lines from "Dream" from her debut album, A Good Day say just about everything that needs to be said. They are purely sincere; there is no irony or arty twist later in the song. This is not the indie music of Feist or Laura Veirs; the pedigree is Jewel and Blue Note labelmate Norah Jones, music made for sweet girls with strong nesting instincts and the young men who love them (as is clearly the case with the aforementioned blogger).

If Jewel was the troubadour and Norah Jones the jazz songstress, then Ahn is the polymath. Not only does she have a voice of pure silk and honey, she is a multi-instrumentalist and creative arranger. Think the technique of Sufjan Stevens applied to songs for the creation of domestic bliss.

Click over to her myspace page now and start the player to hear the full range of her abilities. 'Dream' is the one being pushed as the hit, Silent Night is a multi-tracked a cappella arrangement of the Christmas classic that would do Imogen Heap proud, and Willow Weeping is just mother flipping charming, probably my fave. I would've bought it already if it were available for sale.

And then there is The Boobs Song, a live only track which says all that remains to be said about who Priscialla Ahn is that Dreams did not. It is a tale of jealousy and low self-confidence involving her boyfriend's poetry and another girl's boobs and embarassment at said jealousy and low self-confidence. With, of course, a kazoo solo.

Here's a host of live solo acoustic performances for a more intimate and personal look.

Home page and personal blog

Allmusic's review of her first album

Whose iPod is she popping up on

"You left me utterly confused
I am not here for you to use"


Lad Rock

Modern rock criticism is a boring ramble of musical categories that few of us could care less about: post-rock, emo, screamcore, darkwave, etc. It’s as if these critics spent too much time in record bins and never have the chance to take one home, toke up a smoke, and let the free-form associations flow.

Thankfully, most bands – aside from Tortoise- this year at Fuji Rock don’t need categorizing. Still, if one wants to engage in this pedantic and useless exercise, I think it’s best if we use obscure, pejorative terms such as my new fave, “Mancunian Lad Rock.”

This cute little term was enough to trip up a good friend of mine who has been a virtual directory of first-hand rock’n’roll information and an expert in all things where the music scene intersects with the drug scene. Apparently, he did not know that “Mancunian” refers to Manchester, the home of Oasis, and when used in this combination generally refers to to bands that have been personally selected to perform as opening acts for lads, Liam and Noel G.

It’s a sorta long list that now includes past Fuji performers such as Kasabian and The Courteneers, and this year, is represented by Twisted Wheel (they perform in support of Oasis on July 7th at the Ricoh Arena.)

The band even share an Oasis producer, Dave Sardy, who have helped them crank out a coupla songs. While they’ve left the guitar pedals at home, this band follow the same formula of “immediate” music coupled with earnest, fresh faced lyrics and emotion. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to slag off this band like other reviewers have, read here.

I’m trying to live by my grandma’s advice that if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say it at all.

In this case, if it’s good enough for Oasis, I’m sure other people may like it as well.

Sony Music Site
Band Website

//sean s.

The Long Way


Longwave, an upstate-New York band, are having a tough time of it lately. Not fitting into any particular musical genre and getting "lame" record review in Pitchfork, read it here may mean that the best thing that could happen to this band is playing Fuji Rock this summer.

A look at the band's myspace site shows Fuji Rock as the only firm date this summer, a list of other cities are followed by initials “TBD” indicating the band has had its share of difficulty when it comes to fitting into the hip, new music scene.

What has saved this band from the ranks of obscurity has been outstanding LA-based radio station, KCRW, who were one of the first to champion the single “Tidal Wave” as well as extending more than a few in-studio appearances for the band This is how I learned of the band a coupla years ago, and you can check it out for yourself right here.

The lack of success led the band to shuffle its line-up in 2004, though now, they are back at it with the perfectly respectable release Secrets are Sinister. I for one, suggest you give it a listen.

//sean s.

Photo by Makiko “Maki” Endo for
Smashing Mag.

A Whole Lot of Soul


We previously told how our brothers and sisters in rock at Smashing Mag traveled to Austin, Texas earlier this year for SXSW. One of the acts the site’s editor, Koichi Hanafusa, was most excited to see was Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves.

In late February, Koichi spent a few days at my place. He had to write a review of “Roll With You” by Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves and played the album start-to-finish several times (his write up is here if you can read Japanese). It’s a damn fine disc of old school-inspired soul and R&B. Only in his-mid 20s, the American-born Reed has an absolutely fantastic voice that brings to mind greats such as Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. Koichi said he thought there was a real good chance Reed may be at Fuji Rock this year. I’m thrilled that he was correct!

Reed’s got a short bio on his MySpace page along with loads of completely justified praise for “Roll With You.” The site also lists him as performing at Fuji Rock on Friday and Saturday. Fuji’s schedule only has him down on Saturday, but hopefully it’s wrong and fest-goers will be treated to two days of Reed and his six-piece backing band, The True Loves. If Reed is indeed playing on multiple days, I’m praying that one of the gigs goes down in the Crystal Palace Tent. A late-night intimate showcase by Reed and company would definitely be one of my must-see shows at this year’s proceedings.

MySpace page for Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves is here.
Smashing Mag’s photo report of Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves is here.
Video interview with Reed from last year is here.
Live performance on Jools Holland is here.


* Photo by Koichi "hanasan" Hanafusa and used with permission from Smashing Mag

Summer + Music Festivals = Awesome

Pitchfork has published a list of all the summer’s coolest music festivals on their web site.

It includes dates and locations for events across the globe along with a handful of the top artists performing at each concert. Fuji Rock is of course included in the article. Check out The Pitchfork Guide to Summer Festivals here if you’d like to see what’s going down musically at fests near and far between May and October.


*Photo by Ryota Mori and used with the permission of Fuji Rock Express ‘08

May 23, 2009

Steve Nieve: Hall of Famer


Steve Nieve is an attraction and an impostor; one of two members of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that are on this year’s bill; and he is likely the only foreigner double-dipping in the chip dip that is Japan’s two major summer festivals: Fuji Rock and Summer Sonic.

Nieve, who playing this year’s Fuji Rock Festival as a solo artist, has been working with Elvis Costello as keyboardist and contributing songwriter for decades. As a member of Costello’s backing band, The Attractions, he was involved heavily in the making of classic albums such as This Year’s Model, Imperial Bedroom, and Blood and Chocolate.

He was inducted into the (somewhat dubious) Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 as part of Elvis Costello and The Attractions. Booker T., also in this year’s Fuji Rock lineup, was inducted in 1992 along with The M.G.s.

In the original announcement for this year’s lineup, Nieve was billed as “Steve Nieve featuring Joe Sumner”. Sumner is the bass player and singer for Fiction Plane (and his dad, Gordon Sumner, a.k.a. Sting, was inducted into the R n R Hall of Fame himself the same year as Tilbrook, with The Police).

The lineup announcement was changed earlier this month, however, and now it reads “Steve Nieve band featuring Glenn Tillbrook”. Tilbrook is the co-founder and main singer-songwriter for classic British band Squeeze (who haven’t been inducted into the Hall of Fame). Tilbrook recently did a small solo acoustic tour of Japan, playing live houses and clubs.

As for racking up his air miles flying to Japan twice this summer, Steve will be playing the Summer Sonic ‘09 festival just a couple weeks later as a part of his other longstanding relationship: Elvis Costello and The Impostors. I'm pretty sure they’ll be the only Hall of Famers in attendance at that one (correct me if I'm wrong...).


*Steve Nieve title photo ©Keiko "keco" Hirakawa and used with permission.

May 22, 2009



For a band with a name that means “beard” in English, you would think all the members of HiGE (pronounced hee- gay, it only looks funny spelled out) might be sporting chin hair of some type, but only one member of this Tokyo quintet actually seems to have a beard. They do have two drummers, though.

HiGE have been putting out their brand of, hmmm, experimental classic rock (I hate trying to describe the sound of a band like this) since the turn of the century (doesn’t it sound weird to talk about the early 2000’s like that?). Really, this is a band that, as of lately, defies description. You need to experience them live and participate in the show to “get it”. Their stage shows are like theatre, with costumes, extras wearing huge papier mache rabbit heads, videographers, day-glo paint and matching light scenes, and lots and lots of swirling digital delay effects and loop sampling. It’s not “out there” experimental, their songs are straight ahead pop-rock tunes, they just like to add a lot of studio value to them. In fact, frontman and guitar player Hisashi Suto at times can sound eerily like a Japanese Liam Gallagher (in the sound of his voice, not his whinging and whining) and you can’t get more pedestrian than that.

Shawn saw them at Fuji Rock ‘07 first thing on Saturday morning at the Green Stage and thought that besides the tripped out intro, they were pretty straight ahead rock n rollers. Another Fujirocker deemed them “throwback grunge”. You’ll have to make up your own mind.

They play the Red Marquee on Sunday at Fuji Rock, and that will be a great place to enjoy what has now become a pretty trippy live performance.

Check out their promo vid for “D.I.Y.H.i.G.E.” and tell me if doesn’t make you feel stoned:

The PV above is from their latest album of the same name (which you can buy here). It’s full of lots of fuzzed out guitar and heavy post production effects, but it is not nearly as energetic as their shows, where the personality of the band, and in particular Suto, really shines (for the Oasis sound comparisons, check out “Home”[“家”] and “Meat Pie From Russia”[“ミートパイ フロム ロシア”], track 2 and track 5, respectively).

If you are in Tokyo, you can catch them this Sunday (May 24) at Studio Coast. Information is on their official site: See you there.


Towa Tei Vidéo en folie


Souvent lorsqu’on me demande la programmation de la prochaine édition de Fuji Rock, le seul truc que les gens veulent vraiment entendre c’est les gros noms de groupes d’étranger. C’est évident que les bands tel qu’Oasis et Weezer vont attirer leur part de fans mais sont-ils aussi relevant encore aujourd’hui ? Le Japon n’est pas sans gros nom aussi! Est-ce qu’il y a quelqu’un qui ne connaît pas Towa Tei ou Tei Towa comme disent les Japonais. Ce dernier est l’une des figures mythiques de la musique de club tant au Japon qu’à l’étranger…

Tout d’abord Towa Tei s’est fait connaître par sa participation au trio Deee-Lite dont il était le DJ. Ensuite, à partir du milieu des années 90s, il a débuté avec succès une carrière solo. Puis il a plus récemment joué en collaborations avec l’Australienne Kylie Minogue.

Mais s’aviez-vous que le DJ Nippon écrit également certaines chansons pour d’autre artistes ??? Il y a déjà quelque temps, il a écrit une pièce pour Koji1200 et dernièrement pour la jolie Lina Ohta.



Diplo à livres ouvert


Qui a dit que la vie d’une rock star devrait être sans morale? Sexe, drogue et rock & roll, non merci pour Diplo. Lorsqu’il s’est fait critiquer de récupérer les rythmes populaires des favelas soit en les incorporant dans l’un de ses remixes soit en produisant d’artistes tel que M.I.A. ou Santigold, le DJ américain originaire de Philadelphie à répliqué aux critiques en mettant sur pied un organisme à but non lucratif pour aider les jeunes. Une belle façon de redonner
Quelque choses de positifs à ceux qui l’on influencés et contribué à enrichir ses horizons musical.

Également Diplo est apparemment passionné par Twitter dernièrement. Comme des milliers de nerds qui joignent le dernier chou-chou des sites web 2.0, Diplo y partage son quotidien tout en suivent ses différents amis musiciens en tournée au quatre coins de la planète.

Apprenez tout ça et bien plus sur l’entrevue qu’il a dernièrement accordée au blog Discodust.



May 21, 2009

Oasis fights

Oasis have proven pretty skilled at starting squabbles with other bands. The latest is with their tour's support act before the tour even starts.

So I was wondering if we could get something going for Fuji Rock. They've slagged off Franz Ferdinand before, but it's a bit old now. So Liam, if you're reading this... the girls from Mass of the Fermenting Dregs said you're an over-the-hill, irrelevant has-been.

Liam Gallagher slags off Robbie Williams

Liam Gallagher slags off Radiohead

Liam Gallagher slags off Pete Doherty

Liam Gallagher slags off Kings of Leon

Noel Gallagher slags off Green Day

Noel Gallagher Slags Off Kaiser Chiefs, Amy Winehouse, and Mark Ronson

Guitarist Gem Archer slags off Jay-Z

Noel versus Kaiser Chiefs, Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party

Oasis versus Cliff??


Ska back at Fuji


The two leaders of Japan's ska scene are back. The Ska Flames and Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra both played the fest in '05, along with Ska Cubano (playing 3 times). Until then, ska was always a genre that was around, but never really poked its head into my world. Since then, I've been listening to everything the Ska Flames have ever recorded.

Ska hit Japan before it ever registered in the States (that, and Mr. Big). Both the Para and the Flames first popped up in 1989 - the Flames with a Gaz Mayall-produced debut album, and Ska Para with an EP. But it was the Paradise Orchestra that took off first, with a reputation for high-tempo live shows. They're probably the more accessible, too, with a bit of a pop edge to the tunes. The Flames produce a much more classic first-wave-of-ska sound.


and contrast

This year also sees Ska Para's Asa Chang doing a spinoff project - Asa-Chang and Junray, though ska fans are unlikely to get their jollies from it:


Ska Paradise homepage (noisy)
Ska Flames homepage (not noisy)



Jimmy Eat World


I've always been a corporate rock apologist, but in the absence of FM radio it's mostly been off my radar lately. Which is probably why I didn't notice Jimmy Eat World's last two records, 2004's Futures and 2007's Chase This Light, even though I had been all over the bandwagon for their greatly respected indie-esque Clarity and for the pretty awesome single The Middle from their corporate rock breakthrough Bleed American.

So this here is my gift to you, dear readers: front row seats to my Chase This Light deflowering.

Videos and links after the jump

Having given Chase This Light a good amount of attention over the past 3 days, it seems to be an almost identical record to Bleed American, minus any obvious breakout hit like The Middle. The production could not possibly be any more slick, the choruses any more huge. The track marked to be the big single, Big Casino, is certainly big enough in all the right FM radio ways.

But what makes a great FM radio song, what makes a good hook, is so intangible. Unlike, say, something aspiring to being literary, it's hard to point out exactly why a corporate rock chorus-shouter doesn't squarely hit the mark.

Like there's this song Debris from this band The Southland that is most certainly a 5-Star favorite song of the decade for me, total classic rock. But near as I can figure, nothing else this band has done is worth listening to.

And I really don't know why Debris is all but perfect and so many other similar songs completely forgettable. This is the plight of a track like The Middle, versus an attempted follow-up like Big Casino, which, although it will remain in my shuffle now that I've given it a decent shot, would not have been missed had I never found it.

My vote for best track on Chase This Light though is Gotta Be Somebody's Blues, a groovy acoustic shuffle. Just listen to those awesome big fat 70's-sounding drums!

And in case you forgot, here's those justly beloved emotastic fist-pumping choruses of yore:

(Stay away from the sucky Never Been Kissed version of Lucky Denver Mint, which was remixed to apparently sound more like a Paula Cole song)

BTW, Jimmy Eat World recently finished a North American tour in which they played their seminal album Clarity in its entirety. Public Enemy did the same thing last year with It Take A Nation Of Millions. It's nice to see that artists of a former glory are happy to pay homage to those days. Wasn't too long ago when the only respectable thing would be to berate their fans for living in the past, lest they find themselves on the State Fair circuit.

And this bodes well for JEW's (and probably PE's) Fuji Rock appearance this year, as we can be sure to hear all the classics played with full-on love and gratitude by the band. What more could you ask for in a festival appearance?

Home page

Recent interviews with drummer Zach Lind
and guitarist Tom Linton
about Chase This Light


May 20, 2009

Booker T: Extra Onions, Please


Ok, so I'll admit it. I didn't even know Booker T was still ALIVE until the Fujirock lineup announcement. But then I find out that his new album is fantastic and NOT a retread (!) and that his backing band is the Drive By Truckers (!!)

Links and more after the jump...

So I look through Corliogne's previous (and more comprehensive) article on Booker T and find out that my favorite living country band is backing up this guy, this legendary progenitor of southern soul, and I think about how perfect this is for Fujirock. The Smash staff are always looking for white-hot indie and pop acts, but they also want something old-school that's also cross-generational and still can bring the house down. Smash, you've hit the sweet spot.

Fantastic interview with Booker T from NPR HERE
Booker T back in the day HERE


Peaches: Durty Grrrl


Miss Merrill Beth Niske isn't known for either subtlety or restraint. As Peaches, her electro-punk persona, she has dutifully kept her mind in the gutter while reaching for the stars.

More info, links and a few amazing vids after the jump.

One of the things I like about Peaches is that although her lyrics (and outfits) are some of the most explicit around, she herself is not built like a Penthouse pet. She ain't afraid. It's like someone gave Sandra Bernhard some hot pants, an 808 and an unlimited supply of pheromone spray.

This approach has earned Peaches some interesting fans, including Joan Jett, Queens of the Stone Age, Feist (her old roomate actually) and Iggy Pop, who sings along with her in this MUST SEE VIDEO

That's right: Peaches and Iggy killing zombies in a George Romero video. wow.

It's possible she'll try to recreate this duet onstage like she does HERE.

A very telling mini-doc on her SITE
Other Peaches tracks at her MYSPACE
Interviews HERE and HERE
Her only American television performance on Henry Rollins' show HERE


Oasis Banned in China

Before I get to this saga, let me just mention that we at have been brainstorming about how to drive more traffic to this blog, so without further ado, let me toss out a few popular key words: Sri Lanka, Obama, lesbian gang bang.

Now, what would I have people otherwise interested in Sri Lanka, Barack Obama or lesbian gang bangs know about Noel Gallagher, the lead singer of the British band Oasis? Only this: For playing a Tibetan Freedom Concert in 1997 he says he barely remembers, Oasis was banned from playing April concerts in Beijing and Shanghai earlier this year. It may be possible that they and dozens of other huge rock bands - including Radiohead, the Beastie Boys and the Red Hot Chili Peppers to name a few - will never be able to play China. Here's the entire history:

June 1997 - Noel Gallagher plays a Tibetan Freedom Concert in New York City. As he remembered it to the Asian Wall Street Journal:

"I just happened to be in New York on that day, and the gig–U2 were doing it, Radiohead were doing it, even the f—ing Beastie Boys were doing it. The rest of the band wasn’t even there, and I said ‘F— it yeah, I’ll play a few songs. I didn’t know twelve years later it would cause all this trouble."

March 2, 2008 - At a concert in Shanghai, Bjork says "Tibet, Tibet" at the end of her song "Declare Independence." Check this video + report from the Guardian. Years before, Bjork had also played a Tibetan Freedom Concert, but that was no big deal at the time. Two weeks after her concert, major riots started in Tibet, though there is no evidence that this had anything to do with Bjork's gesture. Fearing that mass protests would erupt in advance of the Olympics, major concerts throughout China, especially featuring foreign bands or rock music, were shut down until around October, when the games were well past.

February 28, 2009: Oasis is banned in China. The band posts this message on their official website and Myspace page:

Oasis were informed Saturday, the 28th of February by their Chinese promoters, (Emma Entertainment/Ticketmaster China) that representatives from the Chinese Government have revoked the performance licenses already issued for the band and ordered their shows in both Beijing and Shanghai to be immediately cancelled[sic]....

According to the show's promoters, officials within the Chinese Ministry of Culture only recently discovered that Noel Gallagher appeared at a Free Tibet Benefit Concert on Randall's Island in NY in 1997 and have now deemed that the band are consequently unsuitable to perform to their fans in the Chinese Republic on 3rd and 5th of April, during its 60th anniversary year.

April, 2009: For the aforementioned AWSJ story, the reporter makes it backstage to an Oasis concert in Hong Kong and gets this statement from Noel Gallagher:

Basically, somebody from the Chinese Ministry of Culture had a problem with the fact that I’d done a gig for the Tibetans twelve years ago, a f—ing gig I don’t even remember. But these Communists clearly have long memories. They weren’t going to allow us to play. And the sad thing is, people had bought tickets. I’ve never been to mainland China, and now I’ll probably never get to go and enjoy all that it offers. This is probably the closest we’ll ever get. It’s a shame–international politics is a strange thing.

Now if playing a Tibetan Freedom Concert is enough to get a band banned from China, here are groups that will never play the middle kingdom based on the same 1997 event that got Noel Gallagher in trouble:

Noel Gallagher, Foo Fighters, U2, Sonic Youth, Biz Markie, Alanis Morissette, Patti Smith, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Radiohead, Yungchen Lhamo, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, A Tribe Called Quest, Beastie Boys, Rancid, Björk, Pavement, Blur, Michael Stipe & Mike Mills, Taj Mahal and Phantom Blues Band, De La Soul, Dadon, Chaksam-pa, Nawang Khechog, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Eddie Vedder & Mike McCready, KRS-ONE, Porno for Pyros, and Lee Perry featuring Mad Professor & the Robotiks Band

It reads like a good year at Fujirock. And that's just the lineup of one out of a half dozen Tibetan Freedom Concerts. The movement, guided largely by the Beastie Boys, began to taper down in 2001-2002.


May 19, 2009

Mass Of The Fermenting Dregs: World Is Theirs


Mass Of The Fermenting Dregs. My vision of a rock band with that moniker and the reality are two completely different things. On Planet Japan, though, it’s a typically everyday and strange band name that doesn’t seem to raise any eyebrows.

What they are not: A bunch of mid-20s males, struggling to learn their instruments, trashed on stage and off, burning through bass/guitar/drum players in some sort of alcoholic narcoleptic haze.

What they are: A melodic-sounding indie J-Rock trio fronted by two intelligent and entertaining young women from Kobe.

Mass Of The Fermenting Dregs (or "Masodre" in the abbreviated Japanese vernacular of their fans) consists of Natsuko Miyamoto on bass, vocals, and hair flailing; and Chiemi Ishimoto on guitar and riff wringing. They have a third member, a drummer who seems to remain anonymous, but is in fact a permanent member of the group. They played the Rookie-a-Go-Go stage at Fuji Rock 2007 with no label contract and no CD. And we were there.


Within a year they had a self-titled mini-album out, had signed to AVOCADO Records (distributed by EMI), and released a follow-up (albeit mini) album ウールドイズユーアズ (World Is Yours).

The first album was co-produced by MOTFD and Nakao Kentarou, bass player for former indie stalwarts Number Girl (whose founder, Mukai Shutoku, is playing FRF ‘09 with his band Zazen Boys on Saturday and this writer will be in attendance). Also knob twiddling (I can say that cos it's a chick band, so it doesn't sound gay) for two tracks (“If A Surfer” and “Bears”) was Mercury Rev bass player--and Number Girl and Flaming Lips producer--David Fridmann (Mercury Rev are playing this year’s Summer Sonic, as are The Flaming Lips). Clearly, there was a lot of focus on the bass, and clearly it worked for them because their S/T album went to #4 on the Oricon indies chart (not sure what that really means) and #1 on iTunes Japan J-Rock ranking (can’t really tell you what that means either, statistically speaking, but it sure sounds good)., a fairly good foreign resource on Japanese indie rock, loves ‘em. JRockNYC does not.

I interviewed them last week and found them to be articulate, intelligent songwriters that acknowledge they are image-conscious and aware of their street cred indie stage persona. They didn’t, however, have a clue what their name meant in English when they christened the band. Natsuko-san just said that she had “ a connection with [those] words and [their] sound since high school.” The answer almost begs more questions than their name does. When they were recording with Fridmann in Buffalo, NY, he had told them that “people don’t really use the word ‘fermenting’ in English that much.” Maybe Fridmann doesn’t drink as much as I do (or cleans more), but I find it popping up all the time. It’s the word “dregs” I would have explained to them...

Above: Natsuko (L), Yours Truly, Chimei (R). Dregs? I think not.

Mass Of The Fermenting Dregs will be playing The Red Marquee (mini scoop!) on Sunday afternoon/evening. I suggest you get there early enough to secure yourself some real estate under the roof of the red shed, otherwise you’ll be listening to them from outside.

Pictures of them in action at Saiko: Rock Chick are here.


*Mass Of The Fermenting Dregs photo: 2007 by Masuya Hoya, used with permission of Fuji Rock Express.

Easy Does It


Pink Floyd has approved. Thom Yorke touts them onstage. Who knew a rasta cover band could pull this off with such panache? Take a deep breath (hold it!) and meet the Easy Star All Stars.

Links and more info after the jump:

The NYC dub reggae collective first caught the attention of stoners in dorm rooms everywhere with their re-imagining of the seminal "Dark Side of the Moon" album. Then came "Radiodread," a complete dub version of "OK Computer" in its entirety. The latest is "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Dub Band," an updated Jamaican version of...well, you know. It's been reported that they asked for and received approval from Radiohead themselves, as well as the remaining members of Pink Floyd, and that Thom Yorke has actually plugged the record during a show. Time will tell if Sir Paul and Sir Ringo will also reciprocate.

On paper, the idea of reggae covers of classic albums made my hipster bones itch, but I have to admit that all three records are fun, and in the Fujirock setting (sun-kissed mountain stages packed with perma-grin college students), their set will be infectious.

Let's just hope that no lawsuits from the McCartney estate roll in. Hey Paul! Don't bogart that copyright, my friend.

Video from SXSW on WIRED
Their SITE
Feature on eMUSIC
"Dub" and Oz


May 18, 2009

Spoilt Virgins

Let’s face it, rock’n’roll is basically a bunch of garbage. It’s noisy, means nothing, and quickly fades into obscurity. Into this context, I introduce The Virgins, a band who will probably sell a million albums and live/breathe/die the “I don’t give a f&*# attitude ” about everything aside from getting laid or paid.

This self titled debut from the NYC band basically sucks because it has no original riffs or creativity. But, and I am talking about a big BUT here… The Virgins manage the mean trick of creating some of the summer’s best jams...

Rock and Roll is littered with others have pulled off a similar sham such as the Sex Pistols, Libertines, Beastie Boys. A NME reviewer basically says as much and is pretty spot on with his comment. Props to one critic who finally gets it right. Read it here.

And you can also check out their myspace site which features a video where the band is basically just wildin’ in the street---nothing could be such scary fun, especially if you are still in the grips of adolescence like this band.

//sean s.

Going, Going, Gong


Speed freaks, hippies, and ravers all love Gong. Well, at least that was case ten years ago in Taipei when Gong was played at just about every outdoor jam or pre-dawn party. One guy wickedly recalled this scene as: “Demerol, wearing a dress, and flying on my motorcycle listening to Gong.”

While Gong’s popularity is not where it once was, many believe these early Gong parties were a precursor to Taipei's fledgling rave scene.....

A look around the first area rave clubs reveal the same penchant for day-glow colors, strange pyramid shapes, and other psychedelic images that continue to appear on Gong’s website. Someone else told me that listening to Gong was good practice for “spacing out” to music, or at surrendering oneself to strange loopy beats which is just what you need when knocking around to psycho-trance, acid house, or whatever else they call it now.

I’m guessing Gong may be similarly popular in Japan. They are playing the Orange Court and not Gypsy Avalon, and one can still download the band’s original 1969 release, Magic Brother, off the internet, so it’s still at least marginally popular. Another thing helping their popularity is a 2003 project with Japan’s Acid Mother’s Temple. And, I dare you, which other band can claim to be part of Glastonbury’s 1971 triple-live album release.

The band calls each gig a “giggling party” and they are definitely worth a look considering where they’ve been, who they’ve influenced, and perhaps music is coming all full circle with the new psychedelic scene evident in NYC-area bands such as Gang Gang Dance, Animal Collective, etc.

If you want to discover Gong for yourself, possibly hooking up with some other freak
Minded people up for a “giggling party”, here’s your links

Band website

//sean s.

"Tickets! Who Needs Tickets?"

According to Fuji Rock's official English site, regular ticket sales for the festival will begin on Saturday, June 6.

Pre-booking requests are being accepted up until June 5.

For those living in Japan, you can find out how to go about getting your tickets here. Overseas visitors looking to make their summer trip to Japan truly an unforgettable experience can learn how to get tickets here.

Info on how long concert tickets, campsite tickets, and parking passes are valid for can be read here.

Three-day passes for FRF '09 cost 39,800 yen. One-day passes cost 16,800 yen and only 10,000 will be issued each day so be sure to get yours soon if you can only join us in Naeba for a little while.


May 17, 2009

Rowland S. Howard


There aren't many Australian acts at Fuji Rock this year. The inclusion of a Melbourne music stalwart makes up for all that. You may not know his name, as he has always stayed somewhat in the shadows, much like his music.

Rowland S. Howard got started in the Melbourne music scene when he formed the Young Charlatans. Penning the iconic "Shivers" at the age of 16 for this band, Howard left the group soon after for Boys Next Door. Budding vocalist Nick Cave's vocals then made "Shivers" one of the standout ballads of the genre when he performed it for them. Boys Next Door quickly evolved into post punk legends The Birthday Party, going on to massive critical, if not commercial, acclaim. Moving on from the Birthday Party, Howard formed a longstanding collaboration with Lydia Lunch and has worked with a veritable smorgasbord of names in the music industry world wide. In addition, there's barely a name in Melbourne that he hasn't had something to do with, working with Kim Salmon, Dave Graney, The Dirty Three, Magic Dirt, Ed Keupper, local legends Shower Scene From Psycho, and of course The Beasts of Bourbon, not to mention many, many more. He still maintains a working relationship with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, occasionally doing backing vocals and more on their albums. These Immortal Souls has served as an outlet for his music over recent years.

Get down to whatever stage Roland S. Howard finds himself on on Sunday. I'm putting a bit of cash down on the Red Marquee mid to late afternoon, but let's wait and see. Don't take my word for it, check this enduring cult songster out for yourself!



Takkyu Ishino

Takkyu Ishino is all over the board in electronic music, from chirpy pop to minimalism to the sort of dirty repetitive trance you're supposed to space out to on a beach in Thailand. But I first noticed him for his pop music, which is usual for me since I don't like to space out on beaches in Thailand. This one, Stereo Nights, is great electronic pop like Four Tet filtered through some J-Pop light goofiness/kitsch.

He got his start with technopop group Denki Groove, then gained a following in Germany when he started working solo. Here's a glimpse of what to expect from him for a festival crowd (and I was surprise at him being profiled on Japanese TV--I thought he was all underground and stuff : )

I'm not making any promises, but if he can get blondes in bikinis dancing in Berlin, surely we can expect as much at Fuji? Anyway, I defy you to watch this clip and not pine for a hastily poured paper cup of beer with globules of mud in it.

Ishino's been playing FRF every odd year for the past couple of years now. Here's a report of his performance in '05 at Orange Court and some photos from Red Marquee '07.


No Blink-182 @ FRF

Blink-182 just released their tour dates. Apparently Weezer and F.O.B. are only playing with the punk trio for some of the shows. Fuji Rock is NOT one of them. If any one is interested in reading more about Blink-182's reunion concerts and seeing the confirmed gigs click here.


Juana Molina: All together now


Juana Molina was a TV star in Buenos Aires. Then she dropped out and recorded music for years. Her backing band in Naeba this year includes at least 30 or 40 backing vocalists...all her.

I will be there.

Links and more info after the jump:

Yes, Juana tried other musicians, but instead decided to work mostly with herself. Packing at least 2 sequencers, keys and percussion, the dizzying columns she builds simply by looping her voice and guitar. It's easy to imagine a studio filled beyond fire standards on some of the tracks from "Una Dia." It's it's all/mostly her, but as we heard last year , you can do a lot with one voice

Her lyrics (Spanish), come last, she says, mainly because the sound/song structures themselves are the goal. She's not trying to tell a story in words, but you can certainly write your own over her soundtrack.

Get the song/watch the film on her SITE:
Fantastic intro/interview from the awesome RADIOLAB
Live on KCRW HERE (click "Watch")

May 15, 2009



There's always a gypsy band or two at Fuji Rock. This year, it's Räfven's turn.

Bands like Räfven are all about the live performance. The music translates so well into party mode, all about swinging your mates around, arms linked in a crowded dance floor. Anyone who remembers Gogol Bordello's scorching set in the Palace of Wonder last year will know what I'm talking about. This is music to embrace in person.

I've been listening to three of Räfven's recordings all afternoon, and the live CD really stands out. Working their way into the festival circuit by simply showing up and playing, these guys are well know for performing across Europe wherever more than three people have congregated.

This 8 piece from Sweden have endeared themselves to crowds all over the place. And good reason too. Festivals are about variety, and that's why I'll be front and centre when Räfven pick up their instruments. Wouldn't it be boring if all we got was (insert any musical genre of your choice) for three days? These guys are my pick for the most number of performances over the festival in 2009.

I might just have to book this band for my wedding. But then again, knowing their form they might just show up and play anyway!

Official site


Smashing Magazine: The Smashingest


Fuji Rock Festival is about more than just the headliners. Sure, the big name acts on the Green and White stages probably don’t need much in the way of introductions, but with over 200 artists performing over the course of the weekend there are bound to be a few you’ve never seen or heard. And of course, many of these acts are Japanese and relatively unknown outside of here.

So let me introduce you to one of the biggest and best online resources about popular music in Japan: Smashing Magazine.

If you are wondering about any of the bands on the Fuji Rock bill - maybe you’ve never heard of them before, maybe they’re Japanese; if they have come out of--or come through--Japan, chances are they’ve been written about on the Smashing site.

At present, there at least 2,000 artist entries (you can find an index here) on the site dating back to 1998. It consists of tour reports, gig reviews, disc reviews, interviews, photo reports and miscellaneous features on music in (and sometimes out of) Japan. The photo reports contain an astounding collection of galleries by some of the best rock photographers in Japan. These are incredibly dedicated and passionate music lovers, and are the same people who shoot FRF in all its glory, 24/7, while the festival is happening. And the writers? Well...ahem...let's just say: simply genius!

As a database of rock music (and much more) in Japan, the Smashing Mag site pretty much has no equal. Each entry contains links to official artist home pages and myspace pages where you can check them out further, as well as direct links to iTunes and Amazon Japan (here, you can click the “English” tab in the top right to change the language) where you can purchase that limited edition, six-song vinyl E.P. with the Japanese cover art and bonus track that you would otherwise have to trek to Tokyo’s maze of back street record shops to hunt down. Easy peasy Japanesey.

The site is divided in half: Smashing Mag Japanese and Smashing Mag English. Toggle from one to the other by clicking the logo in the top left (yeah, that logo, the one that sits atop the 5,253,281 page loads number). There are even some reports in French. For you English speakers--don’t be afraid to poke around the Japanese parts of the site. Photos and links to streaming media don’t require you to have kanji knowledge or pass a language proficiency test. Explore it. You won’t break it. And you’ll probably learn something.

We’ll try to provide specific links to previous Smashing Mag articles on artists we report on here, but we may miss a few, so do yourself a favour and check it out. Whether you’re curious about a favourite band’s past forays to Japan, or have no idea who some Japanese or other foreign artist is in 2009 Fuji Rock Festival lineup, Smashing Mag should be your first stop. Well, there and Google.

And one more thing: the man behind it all is Koichi Hanafusa (“Hanasan”). He’s also the man behind the Fuji Rock Express live-as-it-happens website that chronicles the festival every year, and this here lead-up blog.


Check out his humble beginnings here. Thanks Koichi!

(Picture © 2008 Jason Jenkins, used with permission)


Maxïmo Park Will Have Their Vengeance

Maxïmo Park’s first album, A Certain Trigger, is one of the best rock albums of the naughties, full stop. And I don’t mean ‘one of the best’ as in, say, the grey consolation prize area of the tail-end of the top 50. I mean top 10, just behind category killers like the White Stripes and My Morning Jacket. (The whole album is great, but the above two are probably the best tracks)

Well, this has been and remains my opinion at least, though I seem to be standing more or less obstinately alone on this. My plan then is to wait another 10 years as history vindicates me and all the rest of you have to lash yourselves in shame for missing the boat (or, if I know people, pretend like you were right there with me the whole time, you craven opportunistic hipster SOBs).

It’s unfortunate that their two follow-ups have each been flawed in their own way. 2007’s Our Earthly Pleasures has the absolutely divine Girls Who Play Guitars, but the rest lacks the real memorability or punch of the debut. I blame part of this on the production, which seems to have been a victim of the loudness wars, which emaciates the dynamics of the record and makes it fatiguing to listen to. Their new album, Quicken The Heart, released just this week, has more dynamics (though still not as great a sound as the first), but suffers from lackluster material and execution at times. Luckily we live in an era of singles, because it too has a few gems, such as Wraithlike and Calm.

Their trademark style is high energy dance rock, which makes them a great live act (and who needs three full albums of great music when there’s only time to play the hits and favorites on stage anyway?) I saw them play at my first FRF in 2005. You will probably see me at this fest doing the exact same Pete Townsend windmill air guitar to the intro to Graffiti I did then. I can’t help it. It’s a compulsion. Just don’t try to be all cool by copying me, you insincere bandwagon whore. Unless you really mean it.


Slow and Steady ...


The most recent list of additions to the fest may be small, but there are still plenty of more acts to come.

It was just announced that Asa-Chang & Junray and Doves will play on Friday, July 24. While Brahman and DJ Tim Healey will perform on Sunday, July 26.

Asa-Chang & Junray, Doves, and Brahman are all vets of the fest.
Photos of Asa-Chang & Junray from FRF '07 here.

Doves live report from FRF' 05 here.

Brahman live report from FRF '05 here and photos here.

Likkle Mai wasn't named with the latest batch of acts, but her MySpace still lists her as playing.


* Doves photo by Koichi "hanasan" Hanafusa and used with permission of Smashing Mag

Blink-182 @ Fuji Rock?


Fall Out Boy and Weezer are both scheduled to appear at Fuji Rock on July 26. According to music web site Pitchfork, the two acts are teaming up for a summer tour with the reunited Blink-182. Citing an article in the new issue of Rolling Stone magazine, they say the tour will start on July 24. Does this mean Blink-182 are coming to Naeba too?

Dates will supposedly be announced in the coming weeks so I guess we'll know soon enough.

When Blink-182's Tom DeLonge got married in 2001, he asked his favourite band, Jimmy Eat World, to play the reception. Jimmy Eat World, of course, will also be playing at Fuji Rock on July 26 which is even more incentive for Blink-182 to join the festivities.

Pitchfork new story on the upcoming tour can be read here.


*Photo of Fall Out Boy by Takumi Nakajima and used with permission of Smashing Mag

May 14, 2009

Ready and Wilko

Brinsley Schwarz was probably the genre's most inventive band and Ducks Deluxe its most technically proficient, but pub rock's most exciting ensemble was definitely Dr. Feelgood. Greasy, bluesy, alcoholic and totally insane, the group played rock'n roll without any of the pretentious filtering that was de rigeuer on the English pop scene of the early 1970s, and the focal point of the band's intensity was the "machine gun guitar" of Wilko Johnson.

Johnson was the meanest mofo in British rock, a scruffy and menacing stage presence whose command of the stinging timely riff was legendary. When he left the band in 1977 he decided to make some money and became part of the new wave faves the Blockheads, a gig that brought out his naturally funky side to great effect but automatically checked his more sinister presence since he was basically playing behind vocalist Ian Dury, whose outsized personality left no room for anyone else on stage.

But since the early 80s he's been pretty much on his own and one of the prime fixtures on the British and European old style R&B circuit. He also used to be an annual visitor to Japan, but for some reason he hasn't been to these parts in a while, so it will be nice to have him prowling Fuji, staring down the faint-of-heart and rumbling across whatever stage he struts at full volume. Save your beer money for this one.


Questions worth answering

At last year's festival, Canadian singer-songwriter Justin Nozuka played the smallest and most obscure stage at Fuji Rock--the Mokudotei, which is basically a stop-off point on the portion of the boardwalk that connects the White Stage to the Orange Court. He managed to cause quite a traffic jam.

Nozuka places emphasis on the singer half of his appelation, with a melisma-soaked R&B vocal style that would give Babyface serious pause. However, his songs are anything but the love-you-up jive that usually comes with that territory. This contrast reaches its peak in "Save Him," a harrowing, and harrowingly beautiful, song about domestic abuse. "Save him from the hand that beats me," says the anonymous, and presumably female, protagonist, and in Nozuka's alto it reaches deep into your soul were it just sits there waiting for an answer. Judging from the moony faces of the young women who listened raptly, they probably didn't fully appreciate the import of the song. However, they did get "Oh Momma," which half-Japanese Nozuka (on his father's side) wrote for his "okaasan," as he put it. It's difficult to make a son's ode to his mother sound anything but mawkish, but Nozuka turned it into a real love song. The crowd knew exactly what he was singing about.


Come see The Legend



55DSL, the Diesel sister brand that want you to live at least 55 seconds per day, is celebrating it’s 15th anniversary party tonight (May 14th) at Unit Daikanyama. The special event named “Fifteen fukin years” will feature some Fuji Rock old timer Dexpistols and Grandmaster Flash!!! For those how remember the sweet performance of the hip-hop legend at the Red Marquee, it’s a party not to be missed. Best of all, the party will be free for every body that say “jinki love flash” at the door. Come over warm-up your legs and see you their!


GUEST DJ : GRANDMASTER FLASH__DJ : _DEXPISTOLS _DJ KANGO_DJ YAN_and more__UNICE (B1F CAFE)_DJ : _DJ Senorina & Roger Yamaha_LYNTARO WAJIMA_and more__LIVE : _Soul McCartney
OPEN : 22:00
START : 22:00

Grand Master Flash


May 13, 2009

Flav's 50th Birthday

There are much more profound ideas in this interview with Chuck D in Monday's Metro, particularly if you're interested in music's place in this current muddle of pirating and pissed-off record companies, but my favourite insight into the fella is this:

What did you give Flavor Flav for his 50th birthday?

A gift certificate for one of his favourite restaurants.

Flav's in the news elsewhere too.


Wolf in Peep's Clothing


For Japan's premier blues-punk outfit, Guitar Wolf, burning out was the only option. Until now?

If you ever saw Seiji, Billy and Toru at their beer-swilling, eardrum-puncturing prime (see above), you knew that fading out or strolling slowly into the sunset was never an alternative. But then Billy died at 38 - certainly a consequence of a legendary yet unsustainable lifestyle. And now the band drinks....juice? And they talk

What gives? I ask myself this as I peruse the latest interview, then I realize what KIND of love they speak of. "When a wolf eats a lamb the wolf loves the lamb it eats," says Seiji. Ah, right. When Guitar Wolf came off a self-imposed sabbatical, many thought they were through, but it was really more about injury (he jumped of too high a stack of amps and broke his leg) than shunning the stage.

Guitar Wolf site
The interview in Japan Times
The 1234 mystery
My fave: Jet Generation


French Connections


Antibes' Anthony Gonzalez (nee' M83) and his blissed-out dream pop have had a few strange pairings of late, sharing the stage with both Kings of Leon and the LA Philharmonic...

Last year's stadium tour with the Killers (also at this year's FRF) is a better match, but perhaps their upcoming opening slot for Depeche Mode will be the best fit yet. M83's guitar drone and etherial synths do echo 80's indie, but I'll wait till Gonzales has shed Gahan, Gore and company and arrives in the Japanese Alps before I fill my cup at that well again.

Listen to M83 here
M83's Youtube Channel
M83 and London Philharmonic
M83 on Current.TV


Sensitive Acoustic Bad Brains Covers

Kimya Dawson is cool. Bad Brains are way cool. So Kimya Dawson + Bad Brains = ?????

If you are thinking that is some fucked up math, you are goddamn right. For more bad Bad Brains cover versions...

Keep Reading:

So the FRF tie-in here, aside from Bad Brains glorious effing return debut at FRF this year, is that these youtube abortions, ok i'll be nice clips were taped at a Bad Brains tribute put on by the makers of the film Afro-Punk, who showed up at FRF two years ago (i think) with their film (i know).

The redeeming value of these lame clips? you can understand the lyrics for, like, the first time ever.

Ok! Ok, now check out this one. it's really terrible. Kimya forgets the lyrics. and reading the comments makes it even funnier. (sorry kimya, i can't resist) hahaha. lol!!!


Whinging Brit Rockers Take Pop Too Seriously

Ok, this, from NME last week, is totally awesome ridiculous:

Graham Coxon has spoken about the fallout from Blur Britpop tussle with Oasis.

The guitarist says he felt so bad when 'Country House' beat 'Roll With It' to Number One in the UK singles chart in the summer of 1995 that he had to be talked out of jumping from a sixth floor window by Damon Albarn.

You can read the whole ridiculous report on NME (it gets better).

So is this why Oasis and not Blur is playing FRF this year? here's to hoping the rivalry never ends (\_/)


May 12, 2009

Ben Harper & Relentless 7


Ben Harper will be playing Fuji Rock on the Saturday night, but don’t expect the folk/soul/jam sets he is famous for playing with his longtime band The Innocent Criminals.

This time he’ll be touring with his new band Relentless 7, a trio of Texas blues rock musicians featuring Jason Mozersky (lead guitar), Jesse Ingalls (bass and keyboards), and Jordan Richardson (drums).

Mozersky was a shuttle driver, like the ones we see all over Fuji Rock Festival driving the artists in white vans and mini-buses back and forth to the stages, only he was doing it for a Texas music promoter. If the official account is to be believed, he plucked up the courage to ask a captive Harper if he could play him his demo. Harper reluctantly agreed but was reportedly "blown away."

Hyperbole aside, Harper landed Mozersky's then band (Wan Santo Condo) a record deal and subsequently hired him to play on his 2006 double album Both Sides Of The Gun. Mozersky recommended some friends (Ingalls and Richardson from LA band Oliver Future) and their collab ended up as the song "Serve Your Soul" on the album - and the start of Relentless 7.

While it is being positioned as a "new" rock sound for Harper, it's not like the man hasn't rocked before. Ben Harper is a gifted and intense lap steel guitar player. Check out "Voodoo Child":

When he's not playing guitar on stage he's energetic and animated and known to jump off the drum set and charge out into the audience.

What is new is seeing and hearing a young, straight ahead rock band with blues chops trying their utmost to keep up with Harper's experience and formidible musical repertoire. Some of their down tempo numbers still feature that soft, folk gravel voice, but don't expect too much of that if their set is anything like what the Washington Post reviewed last week.

Expect more rock and less folk soul. Look for covers of Led Zeppelin's "Good Times, Bad Times" (which they were streaming on their website) and Queen's "Under Pressure" (which they played at their public debut during the "Get Out The Vote" benefit show along with the Beastie Boys, Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, and Tenacious D.)

The Ben Harper & Relentless 7 album White Lies For Dark Times will be released in Japan this week.



Oh yeah--The Innocent Criminals haven't broken up, they're just on hiatus.

Why God invented stage names

A DJ once told me that he plays under his real name so that his mum can be proud when she sees it on the posters. Would the world have been the same if the boys from one of the headliners this year went by their birthnames: Carlton Douglas Ridenhour, William Drayton, Jr. and Norman Rogers...

instead of Chuck D, Flavor Flav and Terminator X?


Shibusa Shirazu Orchestra


The first time I saw Shibusa Shirazu (translates as something like "knows no cool") was in Gaienmae, Tokyo, in a basement with an audience of about 12. I think there were three or four members of the troupe present, and the music consisted of them blowing through their brass mouthpieces, minus the instruments that usually sit at the end and produce the nice sounds, plus a teacup and saucer with spoon sitting tight against the speaker and rattling from the vibes.

rattle rattle
rattle rattle
rattle rattle
rattle rattle
rattle rattle
rattle rattle

And after about 15 minutes I thought 'right then, that's enough of that," and went for a drink. Since then I've heard plenty of people whose opinions I respect talk admiringly about the group. I tell them they're wrong, They tell me they aren't. I tell them they are. They tell me they aren't. I say they definitely are. And so on.

Finally I cracked and watched some YouTube clips (remember when you had to go to Woolworths to buy a cassette single to find out what a band sounded like?).

Anyway, turns out they can be much more fun:

I think the confusion stems from the fact that there really isn't a Shibusa Shirazu orchestra, or at least it's different every time they perform. They were set up as a backing outfit for an avante-garde theater group way back in 1988, and it seems that since then the shows have been made from whoever fancied playing at the time. The Youtube clip seems pretty representative of their festival shows. Their full roster of 30-plus performers includes two "groove girls", a handful of butoh dancers and an animator (as in, animate the crowd rather than drawing nice pictures). As long as they remember to plug their trumpets into the mouthpieces, I reckon this will be a show to remember.


Uncle Don Coglione

May 11, 2009

Animal Collective on Letterman

This song totally blows me away and has been virally circulating through the internet. The dancers in the background, or what Letterman calls, "trick or treaters," are less than inspiring and don't do the song justice. Shoot, i would simply like to see Paul Shaffer's bald head bobbing to this tune.

//sean s.

More Dub and Reggae Vibes at This Year's Fest


Will Likkle Mai’s name be included in the next wave of new artists for FRF’ 09? According to her MySpace site it will be.

Although it hasn't been officially announced to the public by FRF organizers yet, Mai’s MySpace lists her as playing at FRF ’09 on both July 24 and July 25.

Formerly the vocalist for Japanese dub act Dry&Heavy, Mai parted ways with the group in 2005 to focus on a solo career. In 2006 she released her debut album, “Roots Candy,” and played both Fuji Rock and the Rising Sun Rock Festival that summer in support of it. Her last full-length effort was 2007's “MW.” She recently issued a new 7” of her pop-accented reggae stylings called “Come Together For I & I.”

Likkle Mai’s MySpace site is here.
Photos from her 2006 Fuji Rock appearance are here and a short review of her set is here.


*Photo of Likkle Mai by Miyuki “Sam” Samata and used with permission of Fuji Rock Express ‘06

Gang Gang Dance: Hip enough for NYC

I’ve already said this before, but I will mention it again… I am psyched to see artists at Fuji Rock because back home in the US their shows are sold out! The latest commodity coming across the pond is Gang Gang Dance. My last try going to see this band was the opening party for the Nada Art Fair ( a young cousin of the bigger Art Basel Miami Beach event). I, along with 20 well dressed, pin stripe suited, big shots of the art world found ourselves locked out of this party. Nobody was getting in or out, and i had little choice but to console myselve with the indignity of sitting at a bar next door coiffing US$25 whisky drinks.

That was 2007, and since then, this band of “feral art rockers” have played every major happening, art show, biennial or any other cultural event of any importance. For instance, they conducted the 88 Boadrum happening in Williamsburg last year, an 88 minute performance with 88 drummers selected by the Boredomes and Hisham Bharoocha. The event wasn’t totally new, nor mind blowing, as it was a continuation of the 2007 77 Boadrum event, only this time sponsored by Nike with events in both LA and NYC.

Gang Gang Dance have powerful friends in the art and music industry. Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor told NME they are his favorite band, saying their live shows are inventive and cool. If you’ve ever checked out their youtube clips, you will see the band loosely jamming around with electronic equipment and two drum kits. Shows can veer between a lot of standing around with bouts of head swinging and full out breakin’.

The best way I can describe it is looking at the bigger US music scene and figuring out how the hippy, psychedelic movement migrated to the east coast in bands like Gang Gang Dance while the west coast was overtaken by hardcore muthafuckas like Rage Against the Machine and other brutal punk acts.

Its weird how things can change, and how flipping coasts can make things cool again. That’s how I explain Gang Gang Dance, and if I’m wrong, just let me know.

Band Website


//sean s.

May 10, 2009

Curly Giraffe


With a name like Curly Giraffe, I just had to have a listen. I've either never seen a bill with "human being" Kiyoshi Takakuwa's alter ego, or glossed past his name. More fool me!

Nice fresh accoustic tunes are sometimes backed with a little help from electronic percussion, and a upbeat sound is the result. A stalwart of the music scene, Takakuwa spent time in Australia growing up, and as a result the English lyrics of his songs, penned himself, actually make sense. Decide for yourself whether that's a good or a bad thing. I strike it up to good myself.

Curly Giraffe's latest album "New Order" was released in April. From what I can tell, it's certainly no homage to thae iconic band of the same name. I might just have to check this one man band out this week at his gig at Club Quattro in Shibua on May 13th. After all, anyone who describes themselves as a "tall, gentle herviborous animal" can't be all bad!

Official site
Shameless plug for his new album on Amazon


All Night Fuji Part 1: Ken Ishii


It's sometimes difficult to strike exactly the right balance at Fuji Rock overnight. It's a constant trek back and forth between the Red Marquee and the Palace of Wonder to balance the musical side of big name acts at the RM with the social side at PoW. It's always a compromise, as some of the quirkier musical acts perform by special invitation at the Palace, alongside their rookie stage predicting who's going to be Japan's next big thing. On friday night, the choice gets even harder, with All Night Fuji down at Orange Court, way over the other side of the grounds.

Or does it? I for one usually end up making that 30 minute trek to the dark side, home to the truest of the dance parties at FRF. Sure, there are other dance and techno acts over the weekend, but All Night Fuji is the only dedicated stint of non stop raving. Whereas acts in the Red Marquee can make way for quite differing styles resulting in a somewhat disjointed feel to the night, All Night Fuji is where you can enjoy that uninterrupted flow. The biggest name announced so far is Ken Ishii. And that's no small order.

I remember my first ever Ken Ishii gig. I was about to move to Japan, and a good mate decided that I needed one last bender; one involving a dj that would help soften the blow of my move to Japan, a cultural buffer if you will. I readily accepted the invitation, back then a night out was a night out, and my tastes in music were not as defined as they are now. Ishii provided a much harder edge to the trance I was used to. Ishii's minimal style set in motion a whole new level of appreciation for techno that I have pursued and come to love since I arrived here.

Breaking into the international circuit is an achievement relatively few Japanese DJs and/or producers have managed. Drawing big crowds on his home shores, Ken Ishii first came to international recognition more than 15 years ago. Since then he has reached a level that takes him all around the world on a regular basis, but he still manages to find plenty of time for his home country. No stranger to Fuji Rock, he will no doubt cut a swathe through the night with the sound that is as recognizable to video gamers as it is clubbers, with his productions having been picked up for everything from video game soundracks to the official theme for the Nagano Winter Olympics.

For me, the choice is an easy one. With two further nights of RM and PoW debauchery, you'll spot me in the (hopefully!) stylish Smash staff T shirt on the Orange Court floor, 11pm to 6am Saturday!

Catch Ken Ishii in the lead up to Fuji Rock on the Womb Cruise on May 31st, and at Unit on June 12th.

Official site


Basement Jaxx

The last time Basement Jaxx played Fuji Rock (2004) I was lucky enough to interview them. I’d tell you what they said, but I forgot to press the Hold button on my IC recorder and managed to wipe the interview by the end of the festival. Not my greatest move ever. I’d already sold the interview to two publications, and neither of them were going to let me write a gonzo story about a writer’s hazy recollections.

But I remember that the pair gave interviews separately, revealing quite a difference in their characters. Simon was first. He was charming, thoughtful and talked about the technical aspects of Jaxx and his taste for rock music. Then came Felix – jetlagged, perhaps hungover, but still functioning at about 5 times the speed of his partner, talking about parties and jazz. It’s easy to imagine them in the studio with Ratcliffe at the mixing desk and Buxton bouncing around like a kid on tartrazine. It’s also easy to see why the duo works so well together and how they’ve created such a recognizable sound. They told me about the music they listened to (can’t remember any examples, but they had opposite tastes), and they told me about their idea of a perfect evening (can’t remember what they said, but they had opposite ideas). Simon also told me that he doesn’t enjoy being centre of attention on stage, but that Felix loves it. When they headlined the White Stage later that day they both seemed to be loving it, and they showed that even though it’s a long way from those days in South London, they still know how to throw a party.

I recall that the PR people gave me a flyer about a Jaxx singles collection that was about to come out, but neither artist had even heard of it. They both told me that their record company did what it did and they do what they do, and though they thought it was weird to release a Greatest Hits so early, neither seemed interested. According to their myspace page, Fuji Rock isn't on their schedule, so maybe their management operates in a similar way.

I wonder if they know they have a new album coming out in a couple of months, called 'Scars' and featuring Yoko Ono and Lightspeed Champion as guest vocalists. Here's Raindrops from that album - a track that's causing a bit of a rumpus among some fans for not being nearly bouncy enough.



May 9, 2009

Touche Italienne... la suite


Oublier les pastas, pizza margherita, Davinci, Gucci et autre classic Italien. De Milan à Rome c’est la fiesta électronique de Crookers qui se transporte à Fuji Rock.

Moins rock que leurs compatriotes de Bloody Beetroots, ils mixent quand même de la top électro qui flirt d’avantage avec la house ou même avec un peu avec quelque passage hip hop. Le duo de Crookers est cependant bien connu pour leur mixes des plus éclatés. Je vous en propose donc un essentiel enregistré lors de leur récent passage à la légendaire radio Anglaise de la BBC; Radio1.

The Crookers - Essential Mix 06/21



Touche Italienne


Ces dernières années, le Festival de Fuji Rock nous a plutôt gâté côté musique électronique. Plusieurs nuits mémorables ont accueilli les meilleurs Djs que ce soit au Red Marquee, à la scène Ganban ou au Day Dreaming sur le toit de la montagne. Aussi plusieurs des artistes qui ont su faire bouger les Nippons étaient souvent venu de l’hexagone français. Justice, Teenage Bad Girl, Surkin, DJ Medhi pour n’en nommer que quelques un ont tous livrés de performance mémorable. Depuis l’avènement du phénomène Daft Punk, la « French Touch » est partout et fais vibrer les dance floors du monde entier. Par contre cette année, ce sont les Italiens qui font une entrée en force sur les planches de Naeba. Est-ce un signe que nos amis Français perdent leur touche magique?

Tout d’abord le Duo électro The Bloody Beetroots sera sérieusement à surveiller. Reconnue pour leur son rock qui peut rappeler Justice et leur masque de Spiderman (ou Venom pour les pointus), les deux comparses devraient décaper les haut-parleurs. Dernièrement signé sur le label Dim Mak de Steve Aoki, The Bloody Beetroots ont été de tous les blogs branchés en matière de musique dans les derniers mois. Pas de surprise ici, leur dernier single intitulé 'Rambo' est excellent. Pour avoir une idée de l’énergie qui règnera ce soir là, une petite vidéo…

The Bloody Beetroots feat. Steve Aoki - Warp

The Bloody Beetroots feat. Steve Aoki - Warp from Francesco Calabrese on Vimeo.



May 8, 2009

I and I Survive

The good news is that after nearly two decades of a mercurial attitude towards any sort of Bad Brains Re-Ignition, vocalist HR is back with the band. As awesome as the backing trio of Dr. Know, Darryl and Earl is, we all found out when HR went Sailing On to get his I and I on in 1990, without him the Bad Brains just ain't the Bad Brains. But from the looks of YouTube stuff from reunion tours in the last two years, HR, now pushing 50, holds his hands in prayer at the mic instead of thrashing. In other words, it's doubtful he'd still be Banned in DC. But when they crank their stuff, crowds still -- how shall we say? -- Rally Round Jah Throne. So get figgin psyched for Saturday at FRF09. A Bad Brains documentary may be in post-production, but no way does this band seem ready for just Livin' in the Movies.


9mm Parabellum Bullet


Si vis pacem, para bellum ("If you seek peace, prepare for war")

Anyone who chooses a name like 9mm Parabellum Bullet must have a point to make. I think the point this band is trying to make is that they go off. No wait--they blow up. No wait--they erupt. No...wait--they explode. No, no...wait, wait--they detonate!

I mean, they left “parabellum” in the name (the 9mm parabellum bullet is a German, Luger-designed 9mm pistol round designed before WW1 and still in use today. It blows up real good. If you are, on top of being a music fan, a gun nut and you wanna trade some rare 9mm para ammo, go here), they didn’t just call themselves “9mm Bullet” or even “9mm”. I digress, though, as Japanese band names could be an entire blog unto itself (Mass of the Fermenting Dregs, Bump of Chicken, or The Autopsy Report of Drowning Shrimp... anyone?).

Anyway, they hail from Yokohama and favor machine gun style power chords and rat-a-tat drumming in their version of heavy melodic Japanese rock. While they dwell in that overproduced, shredding, 80’s/classic/nu metal sound so popular here in Japan, they manage to stop just short of crossing the line into “wank” territory. Their production value leaves plenty of space in the songs so the guitar/drum attack seems neither suffocating or overly “nu” (check out “Butterfly Effect” from their first full length disc Termination), but there’s still plenty of angst and screaming.

They seem to moving up the J-Rock ladder pretty quickly. They played Punk Spring ‘09 this year and SummerSonic last year. They’ve even been blogged about on an ineverheardofitandidon’tknowwhereit’sfrom music blog-–so you can bet your last round of ammunition that their set is going to be popular.

Some recent pictures of them in action at Shibuya O-East are here courtesy Masuyo Hoya and Smashing Magazine.

They will be touring behind their latest album, the Gothic sounding Vampire.


May 7, 2009

Weezer: どいたしまして。(Don't Touch My Mustache!)


Rivers Cuomo brings his love affair with things Japan (or, at least, things Japanese girls) back for (yet) another appearance at a summer festival here. You’d think with the number of times Weezer has played here (and the fact Rivers’ wife is Japanese) that he/they/their webmaster would know Naeba Ski resort is nowhere near Mt. Fuji, Japan - but I guess that’s what a Harvard degree’ll learn ya’ these days.

Their usual festival of choice has been Summer Sonic (they played in 2000, 2002, and 2005), but the Weez will follow on the heels of their January “Hootenanny Tour” with another appearance in Japan at Fuji Rock Festival headlining the Green Stage on Sunday night.

I can forgive Weezer their last two albums because of their first two. Their first eponymous album gave us “Buddy Holly,” “Undone (The Sweater Song),” and “My Name Is Jonas”. Pinkerton, their previously much maligned and now cult status second album was Puccini’s Madame Butterfly written for ADHD-ridden, MTV-suckled Generation Y’ers by a bunch of riff-laden, self-deprecating, slacker Gen X’ers.

Really. Pinkerton is named after a character in the opera: B.F. Pinkerton. From the ukiyo-e cover art (“Night Snow at Kambara” by Utagawa Hiroshige, plus the “Here Be Monsters” style map packaged inside the CD ) to the pen-pal love letter from a young female Japanese fan in “Across The Sea” to “El Scorcho” and its “Goddamn you half-Japanese girls, you do it to me every time” opener; Pinkerton has all the symptoms of a bad case of yellow fever. Once contracted it is something that never goes away, kind of like malaria, and the only way to keep it in check is by making return appearances to the Land of the Rising Sun every other year.

As much as their last few albums have been, umm...uninspired, they can still bring the hooks and the riffs and the jump-up-and-down choruses (and the great videos–to wit: count the YouTube celebrities in "Pork and Beans" on YouTube no less). This is the Weezer we want to show up, mustache be damned!

"Say It Ain't So!"


May 6, 2009

A White Stripe in Attendance at FRF '09?

It's been reported that Patti Smith's son, Jackson Smith, will wed White Stripes drummer Meg White later this month.

Jackson Smith plays guitar in Patti Smith's touring band and should be with her when she plays FRF on July 24.

Will his new bride tag along? Meg is no stranger to the festival having played it with the White Stripes in 2002 and 2004.

A story about the couples upcoming nuptials can be read here.


*Photo by saya38 and used with permission from Smashing Mag

Fuji Rock Acts at SXSW

Some of the Japanese members from our Fuji Rock Express family traveled to Austin, Texas to cover the massive South by Southwest Music Festival for Smashing Mag.

They snapped tons of great photos of many acts, including a handful of artists who will be playing in Naeba at FRF this summer. Click on the different band names to see the pics.

Easy Star All Stars
Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves
The Airborne Toxic Event
Ben Harper & Relentless7

To see the rest of the groups they reported on for the site please visit here.


* Photo by hanasan and used with permission from Smashing Mag

May 5, 2009

Booker T

BookerT.jpgWhat a life Booker T. Jones has had. He was the leader of one of the original race barrier-breaking '60s soul combos (the MGs); under his leadership the MGs were de facto house band for Stax, backing such greats as Otis Redding and Sam & Dave; he created classics such as Soul Limbo (aka the BBC cricket theme) and Green Onions; he went on to back Neil Young on 2002's "Are You Passionate?"; and most impressively of all, he provided hammond chops for Bruce Willis' timeless "The Return of Bruno".

Now, at 64, Jones has released his first album in 20 years - "Potato Hole" - with Neil Young returning the backing favour, and the Drive By Truckers pitching in to make it sound all grizzly.

All the reviews raved about the bold cover of Outkast's 'Hey Ya!' which shows how effortlessly Booker can take a tune and make it sound like he wrote it. But were it not for the fame of the original, I doubt this would be hailed as the album's highlight. A better cover is of Tom Waits' "Get Behind the Mule".

Though it's all instrumental, listen to the opening track and tell me you can't hear the words 'pound it out' coming from Mr. Jones' organ, and in the more melancholy 'She breaks', that's clearly what the track is wailing. Throughout the album, Young and Jones make you feel like you're listening to lyrics, but without anyone warbling over their artistry.

What they said

"what might've been a generic awards-show jam turns out to be a badass set of MG's-style instrumentals" - Rolling Stone

"earthily funky instrumentals" - The Independent


Booker invited his old collaborator Neil Young to guest on his new album, but forgot to call Bruce Willis.




May 4, 2009

The Fall Out


They forgot the kitchen sink.

You could think, judging by their approach to music videos, that Fall Out Boy aspire to the title of ''America's Greatest Pop Commentators,'' or, at least, ''America's Greatest Pop Parodists.''

Though big in the states, minus bassist Pete Wentz , the group are unlikely hearthrobs -- by appearances singer and musical anchor Patrick Stump could easily be swapped out for The Decemberists Colin Meloy. What has taken them so far, though, must be their recognition of this. In Fall Out videos the band is mocked by hip-hop roughs, aging rock stars and chattering chimps, and their response is ''I Don't Care'' . There must also be an element of pure personality or humility: The band was able to marshall a host of guests for it's latest album ''Folie a Deux,'' from Lil' Wayne and Pharrell to Debbie Harry and Elvis Costello.

Not that you can hear it in the sound -- and it's certainly not the music, which would easily disappear in a sea of similar post-emo bands, that has propelled them so far (unless of course that is the secret to mainstream success -- heavens, that can't be true). The children of Green Day, Fall Out songs veer from All American Rejects in ''A Little Less 16 Candles'' to Maroon 5 in ''I'm a Lawyer'' and ''Tiffany Blews'' to tortured NIN light.

But back to the videos. ''It ain't a Scene,, It's an Arms Race'' references everything from ''Clockwork Orange'' to ''Spinal Tap,'' ''Use Your Illussion'' era Guns 'n' Roses to R&B/hip-hop studio dramatics; ''A Little Less 16 Candles'' has vampires, punk vampires, hip-hop vampires, and yes ''Clockwork Orange'' vampires in cahoots with vampire cops. Luckily at it its most tormented, it doesn't take itself too seriously. But it also doesn't do much more than make a collage of these silly elements. And so the title of commentator or parodist is a little too far out of reach. Instead, be satisfied with a soundtrack for a ride to the beach this summer.

Fancy Franz Pants


Rock fashion is all over the map, from grunged-out hippies (See Palace of Wonder), punk-spirit indie kids (mostly Red Marquee and White Stage) to the tight-suited British invasion (big on the Green Stage). Fuji Rock might be the last place you'd want to break out your Saville Row tweeds and linens, but bands from Maximo Park (2005) to The Hives and The Strokes (2006), have been known to don cocktail party outfits to rock the the big stage with thin ties and pointy shoes.

The most unabashed about this is Franz Ferdinand, who first brought their fashion sense to Fuji for a sunny afternoon slot in 2004. Since then, FF have gone from the brashness of their eponymous first release to the dark-club, dance-provoking intimacy of their latest, ''Tonight''. Though not scheduled yet, expect them to hear them on the Green Stage again for the band's third Fuji appearance (second was in 2006). And don't be surprised to see them wearing what are being widely reported as their favorite new duds by traveling Dutch fashion label Clemens en August.

And while you think you might know FF, if Fuji is lucky they'll be playing live some of the new dub interpretations of songs from ''Tonight'' that they are putting together for ''Blood,'' an album of dub remixes to be released June 1. Imagine Roxy Music meets Lee Perry. Hopefully. Till then, polish yr wingtips and press your pants, Naeba awaits rock's latest attire. And if fancy ain't you, then there is always rock, a la Joe Strummer and Hysteric Glamour (still sounds fancy, though, don't it?).

Only Toxic to Jaded Hipsters?

Los Angeles quintet The Airborne Toxic Event should have their festival set in top notch form by the time they greet Fuji Rock’s revelers in Naeba on July 26.

In April the act played the main stage at The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. At the end of May they’ll perform at the Sasquatch! Music Festival.

Along with their Fuji Rock appearance, this summer they’ll also play at Lollapalooza. In the fall they’re doing Austin City Limits.

All of the shows are in support of TATE’s eponymous debut. While Pitchfork wasn’t a fan of the disc, the band’s arty alt-rock is obviously impressing some influential ears to garner invites to all of these acclaimed, massive music events.

The Airborne Toxic Event’s MySpace is here.
A clip of the band playing live on the Late Show with David Letterman is here.




Skirting the grounds between jazz, dub, and simply being labelled experimental, Tortoise will release of Beacons of Ancestorship in late June. Their first release in over three years has eager fans waiting in anticipation. Their friday FujiRock performance has Japanese post rock fans champing at the bit.

The ever popular quintet from Chicago have never been the type to rush things, getting around to their first saleable release only after nearly five years of playing the traps. Since then they've built up a solid fan base in every corner of the world, and deservedly so. Festivals are where bands like Tortoise shine, and where they ideally should be experienced, their music so suited to an outdoor setting. Tortoise's own feelings on this are evidenced by their tour schedule, consisting of almost exclusively festival spots for the remainder of the northern summer. You can expect a pretty laid back set, something to chill out to in amongst the madness.

Official site
Live set


May 3, 2009

The Bloody Beetroots


The Italians are out to show their neighbours how it's done. Looks like they're gonna give 'em a run for their money, too. The Red Marquee has housed some of the most interesting late night additions to FRF over that last few years, and it looks like this year will be no exception. While the set times and stages haven't been announced yet, I'm willing to put money down for these guys to tear up the marquee from, oh, about 3am Sunday morning.

Hailing from Italy and drawing on the influence of such names as Daft Punk and Justice (the former for their masked stage appearences and the latter for their big electro sound), the Bloody Beetroots burst into everybody's blog in 2007. Since then they've signed to Steve Aoki's Dim Mak label, appeared on bills with him across the US in 2008, as well as featuring him in some tracks. Looking like your friendly neighbourhood superheroes on stage, these guys proved to be quite the marketing whizzes with their release of "Cornelius," released as a "complete art project" resplendent with T-shirt. Whatever time and location they end up playing I recommend you get down there.

Because they're gonna tear it up!

Cornelius video


Buraka Som Sistema bring it!

Hipster mags such as The Fader have been championing Buraka Som Sistema and a handful of other African tinged music for the past couple of months. The music is punchy, high energy, booty shaking stuff, and unlike anything you've ever heard before.

From the group’s Wikipedia page, their musical style is dubbed “kuduro” which means “hard ass” in Portuguese. It’s a type of hip hop / mash-up / electro that is popular on the streets of Portugal which by the way, has a large African community, and many talented MCs which have graced the group’s last couple of records.

Anyways, the Buraka Som Sistema blend everything together beautifully, including a few Rage Against the Machine clips and are riding the crest of a popular new music movement. If you haven’t heard of them yet, do yourself a favor and get hip to their music cuz they definitely gonna bring it.

//sean s.

Animal Collective


I knew Animal Collective was playing Fuji Rock about 2 months before the official announcement and had a pretty hard time holding my tongue and not blogging about this info. Tell you the truth, I couldn't be more excited cuz this band is tearing it up on their North American tour, and it is darn hard getting a ticket to their show. As an example, their LA gig at the Fonda Theater was sold out weeks in advance with tix on Craig’s List going for US$150 apiece. Well, I considered paying the price, but unexpectedly ran into them somewhere else...

Instead of paying the scalpers and on line ticket brokers, I consoled myself with a Sunday afternoon all ages gig featuring a handful of hot local acts. This particular day was seemingly a Who’s Who of LA’s up and coming bands such as No Age, Wavves, and Miko Miko.

This all-ages show was sold out and I had to pull some strings to get myself in. The instructions given to me and my companion were to go around the club and wait in the back. Well, when we go there, we met a dude wearing a hoodie who told us his instructors were to go to the front of the club.

After getting our hands stamped, I learn I am standing next to Dave Portner aka Avey Tare of Animal Collective. He’s real quite and polite, standing almost mid-distance from the stage and taking in all the bands. During breaks, he tells me the band is gonna play Fuji Rock and are pretty psyched. Anyways, at the end of the show, when the bands are packing up on the street, he’s still there hanging around which shows he totally loves music.

//sean s.

The Melvins


To celebrate their 25th anniversary this year, The Melvins are performing their 1993 seminal sludge metal album Houdini in its entirety at a few select gigs in the U.S. of A. We don’t know if this will be the case for their appearance at this year’s Fuji Rock Festival, but for those who like it on the dark and heavy side, Buzz Osborne and company’s set should be a top priority.

The Melvins are considered by some to be, if not the godfathers of grunge, then at least the forefathers of it. The fact that a pre-Nirvana Kurt Cobain was a huge fan (and rejected as their bass player) adds to the mythology—though in truth the The Melvins were far more experimental and heavy than what what we think of now as “grunge” music.

Buzz Osborne (a.k.a. King Buzzo) called the slow sludgy sound of his band “a hideous cacophony of melody,” and he pretty much nailed it. If the Melvins were a precursor of anything, it would be the drone metal sound of bands like Mastodon, Sun O))), and Boris (who took the name of their band from the first song off of 1991’s Bullhead). While The Melvins’ latest effort, last year’s Nude With Boots, is perhaps a little more accessible than much of their unconventional and dense discography, King Buzzo still keeps things the way fans of the band like it: “Big. Loud. Heavy. And lots of drums.

The Melvins play on the Saturday night, and I’m gonna go ahead and guess the White Stage. It won’t exactly be light or uplifting music—in fact it will probably be like having your chest crushed by a substantial weight—but you can bet nobody will fuck with you afterward when they see the stupefied look in your eyes and your ears bleeding.

"Boris" the song, a 1991 performance via YouTube.


Raw Power

Friction is one of those bands that seem to have had more of an effect on other bands than they had on the public. Formed in the late 70s in Tokyo, the group was led by bassist/vocalist Reck, a devotee of what passed for garage rock in those days, namely bluesy punk that didn't eschew guitar flash but didn't really need it either.

The band went through personnel changes seemingly every week during the 80s and released only four albums over a 20-year period, two of which were live collections. Obviously, not the most prolific band in the world, Friction nevertheless remained true to its greasy, minimalist creed; or, more exactly, Reck remained true to it since he was the only constant in the group. As a live act, he/they were legends, and had a huge influence on 90s bands like Thee Michelle Gun Elephant and Blanky Jet City, indie outfits who pretty much adapted Friction's sound directly and turned it into the kind of stuff that could fill arenas.

Several years ago Reck reformed Friction by basically hiring former Blanky Jet City drummer Tatsuya Nakamura to bang away behind him. For only two guys, however, Friction mounts a mighty roar, mainly because Reck is not only the kind of vocalist who never wastes a grunt or an aside, but because he plays the bass like a guitar. The duo's new EP, "Deepers," contains three amazingly visceral covers--the Stooges' "Raw Power," the Stones' "You Got Me Rocking," and Hendrix's "Fire"--but it's the two original tunes that show what Reck can do better than anyone, which is take a simple blues-rock riff and tease out all the possibilities until there's nothing left. He leaves the audience pretty wasted as well.


Public Enemy

Public Enemy may have had their cultural moment 15-20 years ago, but they’ve continued releasing incendiary and fiercely independent music every 1-3 years ever since. Listening to some of the tracks off of their 2007 album How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul makes me really question why the hell no one has heard this music (myself included, up until now). I don’t recall reading about this record, seeing it on any year-end lists, or any of that. Maybe the entire album isn’t brilliant, but if Weezer (bet you never thought you’d see this comparison) can release a record in 2008 with two brilliant songs and a bunch of crap and see their 1.5-decade long popularity maintained, why not PE? The single Harder Than You Think is a particularly potent track, with its triumphant/apocalyptic sounding horn section and classic Chuck D/Flava Flav revolutionary poet/clown interplay.

Of course, the answer to why few notice anymore is obvious: like Bob Dylan they keep making the records they want to make whether anybody gives a shit or not. If they’d quit before 1994’s Muse Sick-n-Hour Mess Age, the album that marked their precipitous drop in popularity and prestige after their world-changing first four, they could have made a huge splash with a ‘comeback’ sometime in the last 5 years and increased their audience for the 2007 album ten-fold (witness the difference in interest between a new Sonic Youth album and even the merest whiff of a possibility of a new Pixies record).

But Chuck D has a singular devotion to what he believes in, and it has absolutely nothing to do with trends or the opinions of others or record sales or what is effectual. He is a prophet, but of the old testament style, continuing with the same message whether he is talking to the world from a multi-platinum precipice or talking to himself on an empty street corner, like that time God ruined Hosea‘s life by making him marry an ingrate prostitute so she could be a living representation of the way the Israelites were treating their Supreme—and no one paid any mind to him anyway. I reckon that’d make him one of the more interesting people to listen to again, even if you’ve been ignoring him for the past 15 years.


The Kids Are Alright

Tokyo-based DJ trio 80Kidz have accomplished a heck of a lot since forming in 2007, easily justifying their rising status in the world of electronic music.

They’ve shared local stages with the likes of Justice, Busy P, Boys Noize, Teenage Bad Girl, and Hot Chip. They’ve also remixed a slew of acts including CSS, MGMT, and The Black Kids.

They recently unveiled their full-length debut, “This is my Shit,” and have booked a short June Japan jaunt in support of it to get them primed up for their Fuji Rock Festival set on Saturday, July 25.

Before getting bottoms bouncing in Japanese clubs they will try their luck with international audiences. 80Kidz have been tapped to play the “100% Genki” tour and will visit England along with De De Mouse, Riddim Saunter, and Tucker for six gigs later this month. Full details on the shows can be found here.

The Shoes, who provide guest vocals on “This is my Shit,” are playing on the same day as 80Kidz. Perhaps the two will collaborate live on stage at the fest?

80Kidz MySpace is here.
Review of “This is my Shit” from The Japan Times here.


Kiyoshiro Imawano, 1951-2009

Former RC Succession leader and unofficial mayor of Fuji Rock, Kiyoshiro Imawano, died yesterday in a Tokyo hospital at the age of 58. Kiyoshiro was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2006 and reportedly opted out of surgery in order to save his voice. He underwent radiation treatments and seemed clear of the disease enough to launch a comeback in early 2008. This comeback was supposed to culminate in a headlining appearance at last summer's Fuji Rock, but only days before the festival started cancer was discovered in his pelvis and the appearance was cancelled. According to newspaper accounts, Kiyoshiro entered the hospital last Friday feeling ill and his condition quickly deteriorated.

Kiyoshiro performed at every Fuji Rock Festival from 1998 to 2005 except for 2003, and in many of those years he performed on more than one stage. With his painted nails, heavy mascara and fly-away hair, he was one of the most eccentric, not to mention eclectic, pop stars in Japanese music. He formed the legendary folk-rock group RC Succession in high school in the early 70s, and his subsequent solo career embraced every style of music, from blues to hard rock to soul. In fact, he once toured with Booker T and the MGs, which is bittersweetly ironic since Booker T (without the MGs) will be playing this year's Fuji Rock for the first time. In addition, the Blues Brothers Band, which is headed by former MG Steve Cropper, and which was the last foreign group that Kiyoshiro sang with after his cancer diagnosis, is returning to Japan for a tour this summer. Expect a lot of heartfelt tributes to Kiyoshiro at this summer's blowout. He will be missed.


May 2, 2009

Salsa Nippon

Back in the early 90s a Japanese TV travel show followed the Japanese band Orquesta de la Luz to New York, where they were participating in a salsa festival at Madison Square Garden. At first, it looked like another of those documentaries showing the indestructibility of the Japanese spirit in the face of a hopeless challenge, like those amateur baseball players who always go over to the US and try out for the Mets or the Cardinals, with video cameras recording all their humiliations. But it wasn't like that at all.

Orquesta de la Luz is a real salsa band. They, in fact, were one of the headliners--in New York, the salsa capital of the world! At one point in the program, an interviewer walked around an Hispanic neighborhood asking passers-by what they thought of the band. Everyone knew them and many thought they were the best salsa band around at the moment, but when asked if they knew where the band was from, most of the respondents said Panama or Venezuela. Very few actually knew that every single member was born and brought up in Japan, including lead singer Nora, who, at the time, still could not converse in Spanish. They toured South and Central America constantly.

Since "retiring" in 1997, the group has played sporadically here at home, but in the past six months their name has popped up at a lot of jazz clubs, which seems to mean they're on the comeback road. Fuji should be the perfect opportunity to turn a new generation of Japanese on to the hottest dance music on the planet.


Transfuges #2 ; The Shoes


Après une tournée les ayant emmenée au Brésil, en Italie, Coré, Allemagne, Suisse, Belge et en Angleterre. L’an dernier le duo français de DJ électronique The Shoes était de passage au Japon lor du Festival Summer Sonic. Mais cette année, c’est à Fuji Rock que les comparses du vinyle feront danser les petits nippons.

Il semble donc que nos amis français aiment bien faire leur petit tour régulier au pays du soleil levant pour y jouer ou simplement y jouer les touristes… Ou les deux comme en fait foi leur vidéo intitulé « People Movin »

Si vous êtes fans de leur compatriotes Justice ou encore de groupe tel que Digitalism ou des autres artistes français des étiquettes tel que Kitsuné ou Ed Bangers, c’est un show à ne pas manquer. Le groupe à principalement fait parler de lui lors de la sortie de leur EP « Stade de REIMS 1978 » avec d’excellent remix de Yusek et Brodinski. Mais leurs prochains hits seront également à surveiller. Pour en avoir une idée, The Shoes propose en téléchargement un remix du vidéo poster si haut remixé par ARGBOGAST ici.

Sébastien-Philippe Fortin

Transfuges #1 ; Polysics


Punk kids en complet orange avec lunettes soleil rectangulaires, Polysics est groupe japonais influencé par Devo groupe mythique de la New wave Américaine. Formés en 1997, les jeunes Tokyoïtes ont déjà une base de fans assez considérable. Lors de leur spectacle de l’an dernier sur la scène principale de Summer Sonic, ils ont complètement volé le spectacle à la troupe de Devo, qu’il faut bien avouer qui se fait veillissant!

Polysics sur scène est une véritable dose d’énergie. Deux garçons et deux filles s’unissent pour faire crier guitare, drums et claviers pour faire sauter de joue les foules japonaises. Leurs spectacles à Tokyo sont constamment à guichets fermés et Fuji Rock sera votre meilleur occasion de les voir performer dans un avenir proche.

Site officiel


Sébastien-Philippe Fortin

May 1, 2009



DJs are known to be tech-savvy and travel-ready, but Diplo is like MacGyver, Indiana Jones and Grand Master Flash rolled into one.

While other DJs hopscotch between New York and London, Diplo (nee' Wesley Pentz) strides into the slums of Brazil...and comes out with some pretty damn good beats. Sometimes better known for his relationship with MIA, Diplo has has made a name for himself as one of mashups' earliest proponents and for real DJ-tourism: traveling the world, digging into the local music of wherever he happens to be (Africa, South America, Post-Katrina New Orleans, etc) and turning it into his own "NPR for the Streets."

His Blog
Killer new single with Santogold
I just downloaded his iPhone app
The Bootleg that started it all
Fantastic recent interview
Plenty on Diplo in the Fader


All in the Family


The children of legends have a hard time breaking into their own. That goes double for Seun Kuti, son of Afrobeat revolutionary, Fela Kuti.

Fela Kuta is a hard act to follow: The man played 6-hour concerts. He had 27 wives. He faced down military bigades and laughed. His music started riots. He had talent and moves, too, and more than a few of his offspring acquired it. Femi, Sean's brother, certainly has it, as does Seun, who started playing with his dad's band, Egypt 80, when he was eight years old. Now Seun, the youngest of the Kuti clan, will bring his dad's band - all 16 of them - to Fujirock to see what kind of moves we have out east. Let's not disappoint them, shall we?

Interview here
Radio interview and samples of the album here
Looks like Seun has a few of his dad's moves


The Gaslight Anthem

The Gaslight Anthem will probably be new to many in the Fuji Rock audience, but expect the band to leave a big, heartland rock impression.

This is the Jersey Shore sound for the new kids. Singer Brian Fallon sounds like a Darkness On The Edge Of Town Springsteen being channeled by the The Killers’ Brandon Flowers during the Sam’s Town recordings - only a lot tougher and all growed up. Or as Sobriquet Magazine described them:

"The Gaslight Anthem are like something out of speculative fiction: this is what pop music would be if Springsteen hadn't listened to his producer, let the Ramones record the song “Hungry Heart”, and launched the C.B.G.B.'ers into megastardom."

Some thundering energetic roots rock will be a nice offset to the emo and sarcasm that will echo off many of the stages at this year's festival. With a vernacular steeped in heartland rock and Americana that rumbles out over the course of their two full length discs, Sink or Swim (2007) and The ‘59 Sound (2008), there just might be a few fans encouraged to prove it all night after a taste of something old made new again.


Soil & "Pimp" Sessions

More naming mayhem here. I'm not sure if they're "so called pimps" or they think inverted commas are decorations, or what soil might mean, but either way - best thing to happen to Japanese jazz ever? I believe they might be. Check the vid:



The funky METERS

The funky METERS... not keen on the name. First, it's that avante-garde capitalisation that I thought only existed in Japan. Then there's the redundancy. The Meters already were funky - they were founding fathers of funk. It's like saying the Bluesy Howlin' Wolf or the Jazzy Miles Davis or the Boring-as-Batshit Coldplay.

So, as far as I can understand, the Meters still do play as a unit sometimes, but they call themselves The Original Meters (why not just The Meters?), but there's also The funky METERS, with Art Neville and George Porter Jr. from the Meters, AKA the Original Meters, but with Art's son and Russel Batiste Jr., son of funk legend David, making up the numbers. When Art isn't playing, the funky METERS are called Porter Batiste Stoltz, because it takes two Meters members to warrant a Meters name. Cyril Neville isn't in the funky METERS, but he is in the Neville Brothers, who are also playing Fuji this year, so maybe he'll join the funky METERS and maybe then they'll need a new name.

Anyway, will they bring the funk? Anyone who saw the Beach Boys a few years back, or the James Brown grave-turning horrorshow last year knows that old geniuses plus a handful of relatives doesn't always make for a great show. But I'm backing the (funky) Meters to pull it off - they've made up their numbers with some quality musicians, and judging from their website, they still play Cissy Strut and Fire on the Bayou, and those tunes are so damn funky that anyone could play them and I'd turn up to listen.

Don Coglione

« April 2009| June 2009 »