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Listen Back 09-02-10

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First off, I hope the post header makes some of you not freak out this time. I figured anime girls would be good enough, but noooo, you wanted the image to have something to do with the post too! Sheesh!

Second, wow, lots of stuff to listen to this week. 

Oh, and if you didn't already know, this is where we, the various and sundry editors of Japanator, talk about stuff we've been listening to a lot this week. How about you? What's been good for your ears this week?

Mike LeChevallier

Air
"Alone in Kyoto"




My pick this week may be a little bit controversial, as it's not by a Japanese artist, nor does it contain any lyrics in the language. In fact, it doesn't contain any lyrics at all. Yet the song is lyrical, and every single time I listen to it I am instantly transported to the very location in the title: Kyoto. Air is one of my favorite pop-electronic groups of all-time, they haven't released an album that I didn't care for in at least some way shape or form. 2004's Talkie Walkie is one of my favorites, every track is a separate variation of musical journey that creates an individual soundscape that ultimately never feels misplaced within the context of the record. The closing track, "Alone in Kyoto", was originally composed for a beautiful scene within Sofia Coppola's 2003 film Lost in Translation (the quintessential American-in-Japan work, in my opinion) when an isolated and confused-by-love Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) visits the Heian Shrine and its surrounding attractions, viewing a traditional wedding ceremony, a group of worshiping monks and tying a wishful slip of paper to a tree already filled with such hopeful desires. I've never visited this area of Kyoto before, but when I do, I assure you I will have my headphones in and the ol' iPod cued up to Air's captivating melodies. Talk about a metaphysical experience.

Jeff Chuang

Maaya Sakamoto
15th Anniversary Live "Gift" at Nippon Budokan BD/DVD




I am a big Yoko Kanno fan, so Maaya Sakamoto's start as a career musician was something I kept track of since nearly the beginning. Naturally her 30th birthday slash 15th anniversary live was a really big deal, one that probably would have warranted me scrambling to get to Japan if fortune and luck would have had it. Though knowing that a Blu-Ray release would be available helped to soften the blow, as neither fortune nor luck is one my skills.

What can I say? It's everything that I wanted and expected as far as a concert video goes. In fact if I could be neutral and objective about something like this, I would say it is produced better than the average Japanese concert DVD that I've seen. There are some pretty subdued but neat theatrics, the direction is good, and the sound, too, although we have only 5.1 and 2.0 sound on the thing.

My favorites on the disc had to be "Hikari Are" and the "Yoko Kanno Medley", when Kanno busted out some piano solos and Maaya sang alone, just the two of them. In general every song that you probably care about from Maaya, she's sang something from it, that night. That said, they still didn't do one of my all-time faves, "T-Shirt."

The personal surprise on the concert-on-video is the bonus items. While first of the two bonus videos is your standard, behind-the-scene look at Maaya's latest big blast this past March, the other bonus video shows her path to learn the guitar chords to "Get No Satisfaction," which she painstakingly reproduced during the concert. It was a K-ON moment when we see how Maaya tried her best to jam out on her Dakoda Red Fender Mustang, getting tips from all the other pro instrumentalists she worked with on the show. Does that make Shoko Suzuki Ritsu?

It's probably a must-buy if you are her fan, or at least worth watching it somehow. Maybe we'll get a fansub?

Josh Tolentino

FLOW
"World End"




As is usually the case with me, my listen back pick is based on the last song I heard. This week it's FLOW's "World End", Code Geass R2's 2nd OP song. I decided to marathon it all on a whim, which would mean I listened to the song at least 12 times in the space of an evening.

Despite its flaws Code Geass remains a pretty compelling show, and with that OP it's certainly less of a downer than, say, Gundam 00 and "Ash Like Snow".

Ben Huber

THE PREDATORS
"THIS WORLD"




After wrangling with iTunes 10 for a while, this week I started listening to the latest release from THE PREDATORS. They're a smaller side band made up of Sawao Yamanaka, Jiro, and Hirotaka Takahashi from The Pillows, Glay, and Ellegarden, respectively. They end up sounding much like a slightly more raw The Pillows, which I suppose is mostly due to the vocalist. But if you're looking for more rock and wondered what these few guys were up to, it's not a bad mini-album.

SOIL & "PIMP" SESSIONS
"PIMPOINT," "Planet Pimp," "6"




I've also gone back and have been enjoying some of SOIL & "PIMP" SESSIONS albums. They're fantastically upbeat jazz, occasionally with a little dose of crazy. Still love the intro on "Planet Pimp" that segues into "Hollow." Plus, "Paraiso," the opening song for Michiko to Hatchin, will always be stuck in my head after I'm done with the album.

Brad Rice

Various Artists
Evangelion: We Are (Not) Alone




I've been on a chiptunes kick for a little while, listening to Anamanaguchi and the like, and discovered this fan project filled with Neon Genesis Evangelion chiptunes and trance music. So far I'm digging the arrangements, although this being a fan project, some of them come off as a little sloppy or not-to-my-taste. Still, it's worth the free download, and it's cool to actually hear what some of the Japanese chiptune scene sounds like.

Yui Horie + Unscandal
"Go! Go! Golden Days"




This fun little diddy has been a favorite of mine for a while, ever since I started watching School Rumble and picked up the "Scramble" single while in Japan. It's got all the verve and energy that I love -- I just wish I could find more music like this. For some reason, I can't seem to actually find Unscandal's albums. I should probably try looking harder, or at the very least, ask Zac for them.

Zac Bentz

Maximum the Hormone
Tsume Tsume Tsume/F




I don't know why, but for some reason I've been listening to a ton of the more recent Maximum the Hormone stuff. Well, recent as in from two or three years ago when the last released anything. Maybe I'm just starting to get my hopes up for the new album. It'll be tough to top their last single!

plugnet
Select




Found these guys through HearJapan. Oh boy. If you like chiptunes and crazy, non-stop rapping, then this is it! This song isn't on the album, but the video is awesome. The album will melt your face off.

Pedro Cortes

Metric
Fantasies

Old World Underground, Where are you now?




Having thoroughly enjoyed "Scott Pilgrim vs The World" I decided to check out the discography of several of the groups featured on the soundtrack. I started off with my favorite song on the OST, "Black Sheep," and started listening to the Canadian group Metric. I gotta say that I'm enjoying what I'm hearing so far. Next up are the Blood Red Shoes.

Mari Iijima
"Do You Remember Love?"




This is a constant in my life. Every week. Still my favorite anime song.

Colette Bennett

Yamapi
"One in a Million"




I've been listening to Yamapi's new single all week, trying to get myself to understand why this song is doing so well in Japan. I hate the autotune, I hate the outfit, and I hate the whole "attitude". I was excited when I first heard he was launching a solo career but this is definitely a marked difference from the direction I hoped he'd go in.



To comfort myself and went back and watched Loveless, which was a much better song.

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