Listen Back 01-27-11


Once again it's time to gather 'round the Internet machine and take a listen to a little of what the Japanator staff has been listening to for the past week.

I don't know about you, but I think the girls are trying to kill me this week.

You can check it all out below. How about you? What's new in your audio universe?

Zac Bentz

Mouse on the Keys

I got onto something of a Mouse on the Keys live video jag the other day. I'm not into everything that they do, but seeing them do it live really completes the experience. It helps that the drummer is a killer. Crazy good!


This is the latest single release from Plasticzooms. Not as strong as some of their other recent singles, but I'm nevertheless looking forward to a full album sometime. We are getting one, right guys?

Jeff Chuang

Various Artists
Exit Tunes Presents Kamikyoku wo Utattemita 3

It's another Exit Tune's Vocaloid cash line. For the uninitiated, Utattemitta (lit. I tried to sing) is kind of a umbrella term Japanese internet people use to describe covers, namely anime songs and Vocaloid stuff. There's a whole scene going on, with some bigger names than others, and it includes the random individuals belting it out. Some have turned pro, and some of the fancier covers even rearrange the pieces they do, which is kind of neat. The other thing is that Exit Tune has been doing a lot of Vocaloid-related albums trying to cash on the Vocaloid rage these days. The "Exit Tunes Presents Kamikyoku wo Utattemita" line are basically covers for Vocaloid songs, so it's like they're milking money from a cow that milks off another cash cow. 

That meta-weirdness aside, I've had a soft spot for Wotamin for a long time, ever since I heard her take on a (now) old-timer classic, "Koi wo Sensou." She contributes a track on Exit Tunes Presents Kamikyoku wo Utattemita 3, which is why I've been listening to the album in the first place. If you are curious, yes, there had been three of these already. Yes, they sold, which is why there is a fourth one coming in March. As for Utattemita 3, it's a bit of a mixed bag, but there's good variety and even a couple pretty okay male vocals. "Star Mine" aside, I'd have to also dig up for Ayumi Nomiya's "Fiesta."

Kristina Pino

Ken Hirai
Wish Upon A Star

So the Ken Hirai sickness continues. I hadn't really listened to him until Pedro and Colette decided to infect me with this dude, and I didn't go looking for him after that, either. Pedro however, thought it grand to send me a link to this YouTube video of Ken Hirai singing "When You Wish Upon A Star" (from his album titled Ken's Bar). There's a reason behind it; I love all things Disney. When I heard this song though, I didn't really know what to think. At first, I was just surprised. It's a sweet cover though, even if it's totally cheesy and in surprisingly good English. We've heard lots of covers of this song before, from N*Sync (It's a good one, don't look at me like that) to Louis Armstrong, so it's cool to get another distinct take on the classic dreamer's tune.  

Colette Bennett

Yamashita Tomohisa

Well, after dropping a bunch of singles, Yamapi's finally put out his album, and I have to admit I'm pretty much enjoying it so far. It's well produced, it's got some really danceable tracks on it, and best of all it sounds more mature then his work with NewS, which I definitely appreciate. Sure, it's guilty pleasure pop, but I think if I haven't come to terms with the fact that I really dig this stuff by now, well, I'd have a much harder life. So, nice job, Yamapi!

Mike LeChevallier

Asobi Seksu

Many people take pride in trash-talking dream pop, calling somewhat of it a lazy genre, "All you have to do is sustain a couple of chords, one vocal range and add an electronic overlay!" While I'm not going to turn this into a full-on defense of space rock, what I will say is that doing shoegaze proper justice within the modern music era is not a simple task to tackle. When ethereal wave type bands began to form during the late 80s/early 90s, listeners had little to compare them to. Now, after the the glory days of synth came and went, the outfits that have stuck around, I feel, deserve some recognition for their efforts.

Asobi Seksu is based out of New York City, yet lead singer Yuki Chikudate brings the refined elegance of a Nippon songstress into every song she commits her voice to. The group's 2006 album Citrus is their masterwork, and since then have been struggling to deliver a record on par with that one (Hush and Rewolf aren't bad, per se , they just suffer from a lack of overall direction). While Fluorescence (set for a mid-February release) is generally uneven, it has a number of standouts that allow the entirety to shine while listening to it all the way through. These highlights include the classically arranged (in drone style) "Trails", the breezy ballad "Leave the Drummer Out There", the Japanese-sung "Trance Out", which sounds like it could easily be an OP/ED for your soon-to-be favorite anime, "Perfectly Crystal", a lovely track that should become our own Crystal White's entrance theme and "Pink Light", Fluorescence's triumphant closing number, a shout out to devotees of the atmospheric-alternative field. Asobi Seksu wholeheartedly thanks all of you for sticking around.

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Zac Bentz
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