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Listen Back 01-20-11

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Back after a brief hiatus, it's once again time for the attractive and powerful staff here at Japanator World Headquarters to take a moment out of our sexy lifestyles and tell the tales of our past couple/few weeks of audio adventures.

To make up for the time off, we've got an extra-large dose of all manner of Japanese music, ranging far and wide. Take a moment, set a spell, and have a listen won't you?

Oh, and yeah, what have you been listening to lately?

Zac Bentz

Mo’Some Tonebender

“Hammmmer” / “Youth”


I’ve been listening to these two new Mo’some Tonebender videos over and over. Both songs are from the Struggle album released last month somehow without my knowledge. And of course now we’ve heard that the band will be headlining the Japan Nite tour in the US this year. It’s an embarrassment of riches!

Plasticzooms
“Pink Snow” / “Bug”


I’ve also really been digging these two new songs from Plasticzooms. They’re quite a bit different than their previous stuff, “Pink Snow” especially. But I’m really liking them, so I’m all for it. More, please!

Colette Bennett

A friend kindly gifted me all the Shin Megami Tensei scores that I did not already have, so I've been thrilled to lose myself in a world of the sounds of SMT.

 
One of my favorite tracks is this one from Persona FES, which only intensifies my insane obsession with Shoji Meguro!
 
Jeff Chuang
 
Maaya Sakamoto
You Can't Catch Me
 
 
Maaya Sakamoto's new chart-topping album is the next logical evolution from her last one. I think overall she is still searching for a sound, but this time she does a much better job, just by being a vocalist at the hands of all the talented composers that contributed to her album. She sums up her album much better than I could, in an interview, passionately fan-translated here. I am horrible at name-dropping so I won't try, but this album is more than just a little bit of everything. It comes together pretty well despite each of the contributing composers are showing off their signature styles just as much as Maaya is. I imagine a large number of fans of this album probably also have CDs from the other artists that worked on it, so it is a commercially conservative way to approach a new album in my opinion.
 
Tim Sheehy
 
Do As Infinity
Eight
 

 
Do Infinity's eighth studio album recently hit Japan and I couldn't really wait to give it a listen. I'm not their biggest fan, but I've been very interested to hear how they've managed without their former member and long-time composer Dai Nagao. Needless to say, those worries were put to rest the moment I heard the album.
 
To be honest, you can't even tell he left. The songs not only have quite a bit of his aesthetic, it just goes to show that the remaining members were largely responsible for what made them sound the way they did in he first place. Like their last album, there are quite a few upbeat tracks, though their latest single "Hand in Hand," is more of a pop ballad. Still, I'd recommend giving it a listen. It can be a bit nostalgic at times.
 
Kristina Pino
 
Maaya Sakamoto
"Kiseki no Umi
"


Speaking of Maaya Sakamoto, she's one of the first Japanese artists I ever really listened to back in the day. Besides the boys like V6, Gackt and Hyde, the first female artist I took a liking to was her, when a friend of mine lent me her single album Hotchpotch. I recognized two songs on this album that I'd seen in anime. The one I'm showing you here is full version of the opening to Record of Lodoss War. The other anime OP in that album is from Escaflowne. Record of Lodoss War is also among the first anime I watched. I remember seeing it when I was about 15 on VHS (I would hope most of you readers know what a VHS tape is). I have my days that I want to just relax and listen to something slow, and this song is usually on that playlist. 
 
Pedro Cortes
 
Panty and Stocking OST




I can't get enough of the P&S soundtrack. It's pretty bat-shit bonkers and has something for just about any occasion. The one track that's getting a lot of play is Tenga Step. It's got an awesome beat and good dubstep is always welcome in my ears. I'm also quite fond of the Scanty and Knee socks Theme.
 
Mike LeChevallier
 
Deerhoof
Deerhoof vs. Evil


I've been following Deerhoof since their formation--they're easily one of the most consistently inventive bands of their genre. I remember being 9 years old, and while most my classmates were listening to whatever volume of Now That's What I Call Music! was out at that time (likely one of the first collections), I was spinning The Man, the King, the Girl within the dark confines of my room. Ever since 1997, Deerhoof has steadily been releasing, for the most part, very satisfying albums every couple of years or so. Their newest effort, set for an official U.S. release on January 25th, is among their finest works to date. In fact, it may be their most thoroughly solid all-the-way-through album yet.
 
Typically a Deerhoof record will contain a throwaway track or two, often skipped over when playing the record in its entirety, but every single song on Deerhoof vs. Evil is a real winner. The group is as tightly-orchestrated as ever, with the one-of-a-kind vocal stylings of Satomi Matsuzaki bouncing off the noise-scapes of her fellow bandmates. I received my press copy of DvE a few weeks ago, and I haven't tapered down my exposure to it in the slightest. I highly recommend this album to any fan of intelligent, highly melodic music, especially select Japanator folks as Matsuzaki-chan does harmonize in her native tongue on occasion. It's only the first month of the year, and I have no doubt this record will be on my Best of 2011 list.

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